Dog Harnesses and Flexis


I have written  in the past about how  awful prong collars are for the average dog.  People keep commenting on the blog and  keep telling me THAT IF THEY ARE USED CORRECTLY….blah blah blah—when the whole blog was about them NOT being used correctly.  Now opinion is swinging the other way:  instead of  over controlling dogs, people are  putting their dogs into harnesses because they don’t want to hurt the dog’s throat!

The pet industry uses the word ‘trending’ to describe  the phenomenon (I can’t think of any other  description), of the craze for harnesses.  Awful, You can not control a dog if he is sweating a harness of any sort:  they are designed for the dog to pull you.

Only guide dogs and sled dogs—dog which have been trained to work, and make decisions on their own—should be wearing  harnesses. They are designed for the dog to NOT suffer any pain upon the pressure of leading you around.  Premier ‘no-pull’ harnesses—where the dog  has to turn around  and face you if he pulls too much?  Dog is still in charge, and isn’t getting any social cue from the handler.  I have to keep reminding  dog owners/stewards/guardians/pet parents that dog ownership is not a democracy.  If you aren’t in charge, your dog will be in charge, and that sets up a terrible dynamic.  Domestic dogs were bred to accept leadership from humans.  When you don’t take control, you force the dog to make a decision—a decision a pet dog is not prepared to make.  He pulls, but he has no idea where he is going.  He could pull you across a busy street,  into the path of a bicycle, or to an unfriendly dog.  In any case, you can’t control the  dog unless he is so small you can pick him up.  With  Flexis—the retractable leashes, you have even less control.

This is so dangerous.  I was at an event today where I saw about a dozen dogs—-only 2 of which were wearing buckle collars.  All the rest were on harnesses…leading their owners around.  Of course, at least  four of these dogs were  French Bulldogs (talk about  trending…).  The owners didn’t have a clue.

This didn’t bother  me until about the past  three or four years.  The reason it does bother me is that so many people dump inconvenient dogs.  They always indicate some sort of lifestyle change where the dog no longer fits into their life…and they lie. They lie about the dog being a good house dog.  The dog is spoiled, and very confused, and if the dog does find a new owner,  if that new owner doesn’t take  behavior shaping very seriously, we have another  out of control dog on our hands.

What’s better?  Either a buckle collar or martingale, on a  six foot leather (the best) or nylon (acceptable) leash—and teaching  the dog  to not pull by standing still and  pulling the dog back, or  walking in the opposite direction.  True—some dogs won’t  ‘get it’.  There are brain damaged dogs.  Most dog will get it, however, if you are consistent.

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3 Responses to “Dog Harnesses and Flexis”

  1. cottonthemaltese Says:

    I agree with that consistency is important and that the retractable leash gives little to no control to handlers, but I don’t think the argument of harnesses is unsound. Smaller dogs with necks that could potentially be injured have to be on harness. Many smaller dogs face this problem called collapsed trachea hence it’s not an issue of control over comfort anymore. And yes, of course big dogs with stronger necks and much more strength have to be on collars, it’s absurd for them not to be

    • disparateinterests Says:

      Yes, we hear that a lot—the ‘collapsed trachea’. So people believe their veterinarians that the solution is a harness—rather than either a Halti /Gentle Leader…or a wide martingale & training the dog to walk on a leash right from the start. Now, I know very few breeders (either show or commercial) train their dogs, and don’t really care. As a groomer, pet owner, and member of the community, I DO care. Spoiling doesn’t make the dog cute. One of my clients who owned both large & small dogs said, “Don’t permit anything from a small dog you wouldn’t allow a large dog to do.” She was right. TRAIN THE DOG.

  2. Tali Says:

    I hear you. Dogs should only wear a harness for work that requires pulling or on veterinary advice for a throat/neck problem. I only knew one dog, a mini poodle, who wore a harness because it made it easier for him to breathe in his old age. Flexi leads are also used incorrectly. They are great for exercising a well trained dog in an unfenced field or for training a recall in a mostly trained dog, but for walking a good old 4′ lead is what you need, with a flat buckle collar or a chain collar if still training/showing. The trouble is, finding a store that still sells 4′ leads and buckle collars. Almost no one carries them anymore.

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