There are many different training collars available to dog owners. I have used and recommended all of them (Haltis, Gentle Leaders, choke, prong and shock collars).
I know some people prefer one tool over others, because that’s what works for their dogs. But many of us have owned, fostered or cared for a variety of different dogs of all shapes and personalities. For us, I’m glad there are options.
Today I want to focus on a popular training tool, the anti-pull harness.
An anti-pull harness is also called a no-pull harness, a front-clip harness or an Easy Walk harness.
I will use these labels interchangeably, although Easy Walk is a brand name for the PetSafe Easy Walk harness (affiliate link) or Premier Easy Walk harness. I’m not focusing on a specific brand for this post, but I have used the Easy Walk harness and highly recommend it.
The no-pull harness is a popular tool recommended by many dog trainers who focus on positive reinforcement. You can see Coco modeling one above. I do have it clipped to her collar and the harness in that photo, just something I sometimes do for safety.
I’m also noticing more and more shelters and rescue groups using no-pull harnesses in replace of choke or prong collars. One benefit to this is that a soft, colorful harness looks more appealing to adopters than a chain collar or even a Halti, which some people mistake for a muzzle because of how it’s worn.
No-pull harnesses vs. standard harnesses
No-pull harnesses are very different than standard harnesses. I generally do not recommend a standard harness (with a clip on the back) for dog walking or training because this type of harness allows the dog to pull with his chest, the strongest part of the dog. Unless the dog is well trained, he can be difficult to control.
How does an anti-pull, front-clip harness work?
Since you clip the leash to the front of the dog, on his chest, the harness creates an uncomfortable sensation for him if he pulls. Ideally, you would use this as a tool, in addition to training techniques to teach the dog to heel or walk on a loose leash.
Of course, some people will not use it as a training tool; they will use it for every single walk for the dog’s entire life. That’s OK, too. If it makes it easier for someone to walk a dog, then I see that as a win.
What kind of dog should wear a no-pull harness?
Any dog can wear one, really. If you’ve used one for your dog, let me know in the comments, along with your dog’s size and body type.
A no-pull harness can be good for solid, muscular dogs with strong necks and dogs with shorter muzzles like English-bulldog-types or pugs.
I do not believe they are the best tool for a dog that is 100+ pounds, depending on your own strength and size. For example, the humane society I work with uses these on all the dogs, and I saw a grown man with good dog-handling skills struggle to walk a fairly mellow but strong 140-pound St. Bernard on one. Since I am 130 pounds myself, I would need a Halti or Gentle Leader-type collar to control such a large dog, which I have done plenty of times.
So, the type of collar that is best for you and the individual dog you are walking depends a lot on just that – you and the individual dog. But, for extra-large dogs, I personally believe a head collar such as a Gentle Leader or Halti gives you more control than a harness.
An anti-pull harness also works well for medium and small dogs, and even toy breeds, especially if you’re concerned about a smaller dog slipping out of a regular collar or being injured by a choke/slip collar. A dog shouldn’t be injured if a collar is used correctly, but I realize this is a real concern people have with smaller dogs.
What dogs shouldn’t wear an anti-pull harness?
I don’t know that there are any specific breeds or types of dogs that shouldn’t wear a no-pull harness. Sometimes, I think it’s just a matter of trying out a few tools with your dog and choosing whatever seems to work best for you. I certainly used a variety of options when I was beginning to teach my Lab mix Ace to heel.
However, if you have an especially strong dog, especially if she is reactive to other dogs or people and you have trouble controlling her on the anti-pull harness, I suggest you meet with a trainer to learn some tips or possibly discuss other tools like a head collar or a prong collar. The anti-pull harness is not ideal for every dog, no matter what some trainers will tell you.
I do think anti-pull harnesses are helpful tools overall, but I have seen dogs that are still in control while wearing them, pulling their owners towards other dogs and such. Some of those dogs would be better off on a head collar or prong collar for the time being, in my opinion. (Judge away!)
As with any tool, you need to learn how to use the anti-pull harness properly and determine if it’s really the best choice for your unique dog.
OK, now let me know what you think.
Do you use a no-pull harness for your dog?
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