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Does a no pull harness work?

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.

Does a no pull harness work

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.

No pull harness

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.

Coco modeling the no-pull harness

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?

Also see my related posts:

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Daniel

Thursday 9th of November 2017

I found that even if you fit it properly, the easy walk harness can still cause abrasion underneath the leg area as the dog tries to pull.

Chuck Taylor

Tuesday 11th of October 2016

A "No Pull" harness may be great -but- not if the dog will not let you put it on him. I get the harness and he runs. IF and when I get it on him he runs around like crazy all excited. Then we go for our walk and he is ok. I have a Ruffwear Front Range Harness. Has the clip on the back -and- on the front. I hook up both cause I thought that was the way it was supposed to be used. Now from reading your article and some of these replies I think that I should only be using the front clip when training and can use just the back clip when it is just for fun. Thanks for all your efforts.

Valerie

Monday 20th of June 2016

The Gentle Leader has worked wonders for me and my 63-lb hound for about 3 yrs now...he's 4. He will still pull sometimes if spotting a bunny, kitty or squirrel, but otherwise it's great. I'd really like to teach him not to pull altogether and sometimes he's fine without it for a short while. I tried the Easy Walk harness which didn't help at all plus it chafed him under his "arms". I'd like to try a thinner- strapped anti-pull harness. I'll never use a prong collar, choke chain, shock collar, etc. I consider that cruel and unnecessary.

Beth

Monday 20th of June 2016

I used the sensation no pull harness on my 36lb dobie mix and it worked well until I noticed the hair was rubbed off and skin irritated under her front right arm. Vet said it was fit properly too. Never used it again and went to a martingale collar but she is still pulling when she sees cats and squirrels so have to rethink things for her own neck protection

Cathy Marcoccio

Monday 20th of June 2016

Lindsay, I can see how that could happen w the Gentle Leader since the strap is flat. With the Wonder Walk or Wonder Leash it's round.. It's basically a slip lead. Just put the loop over the head, figure 8 under the chin and goes up/over the muzzle and tighten obv. Some have a back up attachment to the collar which I prefer because I work w such unpredictablity not knowing the dogs. But if you have it secure properly you should be fine. Or double up to start by using a collar and leash in addition to the Wonder Leash so you get a feel for it. That's what I did.