There’s no training collar that works best for every dog, and that’s what I’m getting at with this post.
Heck, there’s not even a collar that works best for one dog in all situations!
Walking my dog downtown while carrying a coffee and shopping bags is way different than walking him in a quiet nature preserve, for example.
So in this post, I’m explaining what I like and don’t like about the three tools I’ve used while walking my weimaraner, Remy:
Gentle Leader vs prong collar vs Easy Walk harness
Which one is best?
In case you haven’t figured it out, no tool is perfect.
Truth is, my puppy pulls no matter what and it’s a work in progress, always.
It’s about TRAINING, not finding a “magical” tool. I use a training tool to help me while I continue to work on training.
Limiting a dog’s pulling takes time. It’s really about patience, training, consistency and finding whatever tool helps you MANGAGE your dog while keeping everyone safe.
I can only tell you which collars are best for my particular dogs.
So which collar is best for Remy?
I actually like the Gentle Leader best for the largest variety of dogs (I’m a dog walker and rescue volunteer).
That being said, the Gentle Leader is the worst of the three tools for Remy. For him, it’s a tie between the prong collar and the Easy Walk harness. I haven’t decided which is best so I rotate between them depending on what we’re doing. See below.
The Gentle Leader
I love the Gentle Leader but it does not work well for my dog Remy.
The Gentle Leader fits over the dog’s muzzle (similar to a horse). When the dog pulls, the collar is designed to gently pull the dog’s muzzle and head to the side.
The Gentle Leader works so well for a lot of dogs and it’s my top recommendation. I’ve used it on probably 100 dogs by now.
However, it’s not so good for Remy.
Remy closes his mouth (avoids panting), puts his head low and to the side and pulls HARD against it the entire walk. This causes the fabric to rub under his eyes, making the skin raw and his eyes bug out. It hurts him. And after a half-hour he’s nearly having a heat stroke from not panting.
When we pass people, he paws at his muzzle frantically and stands on his hind legs causing people to stop and other dogs to react.
It frustrates and embarrasses me, and Remy is also frustrated.
So, not a good fit.
I keep trying it hoping it will get better, but it’s usually pretty frustrating.
The prong collar
A prong collar is a chain collar with flat “prongs” around it that put gentle pressure on the dog’s neck when he pulls. The prong collar is limited in how far it can tighten. (It’s a martingale collar.)
People really tend to panic when I even mention the word prong collar, leaving my blog in a huff. (So, please don’t do that.)
So I have to ask, do people think prong collars are “spiked” or sharp on the ends? Because they’re FLAT.
I switched Remy to the prong collar when he was 5 months old, so we’ve been using it on and off for about 8 months.
It’s like night and day.
He’s so much happier with it and he no longer “bucks” or paws at his face. I have the most control over him than any other tool, and it’s important to have control over a boisterous, adolescent weimaraner. He’s only going to get larger and stronger.
But the prong collar is not perfect.
Remy still pulls while wearing it, and I don’t like that there’s almost constant pressure on his neck.
So that’s why I tried the Easy Walk harness …
Easy Walk no-pull harness
The Easy Walk harness is a nylon harness that limits the effects of a dog’s pulling because the leash clips to the chest and tightens the harness around the dog’s chest and shoulders when he pulls. It gently pulls him to the side and makes pulling uncomfortable.
I bought a large, so Remy’s was still a little loose on him in these pictures, but not for long!
The Easy Walk harness seems to work pretty well for Remy. I like that it takes all the pressure off his neck. (Although, it does rub his skin raw under his arms. Sigh.)
He still pulls while wearing it (of course), but it does make our walks more enjoyable and he seems happier too. The Easy Walk harness is more effective with Remy than I expected. There’s a reason you see so many people using them. They work!
My main problem with the harness is it still allows Remy the freedom to jump on people. He’s able to really LAUNCH HIMSELF at people while wearing it. Like, it seems to help him get AIR! Have you ever seen anything like it? Ha!
The prong collar works better for controlling him when he tries to jump.
Because of this, I tend to use the prong collar when I’m walking both my dogs together by myself because it gives me more control. On my longer strolls and hikes with Remy by himself, I tend to use the harness.
Let’s face it, the harness also give me a chance to sort of “check out” from training while still keeping my dog fairly controlled as long as no people are around. This is something we all need at times, adding to the popularity of this harness.
Here’s my detailed article on no pull harnesses you may find helpful.
So what’s the verdict?
Well, I used the Gentle Leader for my Lab mix Ace. It worked the best for him.
For Remy, I rotate between the prong collar and the Easy Walk harness AND the Gentle Leader. They all work … sort of.
There is no tool that works best for every dog in every situation!
I use three tools every day between my two dogs.
For quick potty breaks, the prong collar works best for Remy because I can keep him under control around off-leash dogs that walk by frequently on our street. I can stop him from jumping and wiggling around.
For longer walks around the neighborhood or hiking, the Easy Walk harness is best because if Remy’s going to be pulling it takes the pressure of his neck.
And for the walks where I take both dogs by myself, I prefer to have Remy and my new pup Rip both on Easy Walk harnesses. It helps me manage them but I can checkout from formal heel training.
It is challenging to wrangle two large dogs, pick up poop, carry the poop bags and maneuver around other residents.
It’s the worst when I’m obviously picking up poop and someone barges over with her dogs. “CAN WE SAY HI!”
Um … hi? No?
But still, I need to be able to control my dogs even if other people are being idiots. So, that’s where all these tools come in.
No collar is perfect. No dog is perfect. I’m certainly not perfect!
What tool do you currently use the most for walking your dog?
Do you have any comments to add about any of these collars?
Let me know in the comments!
Chain slip collars from Mighty Paw
Thursday 9th of June 2022
Omg your Remy looks like my Auggie! He is a gray Weim almost 9 months old. Using the Sherm Sprenger small prong and now just got a 3 in 1 Petsafe harness for obedience class. Tried fitting it on him unsure if it fits. I am in Southern Ca. Where are you guys? I loved your article.
Friday 10th of June 2022
We used to live in San Diego but now we are in Montana.
Friday 11th of March 2022
When we adopted (rescued) our Berger Blanc Suisse he came with a prong collar which I was very sceptical of because at 37kg he is a handful when walking but it does actually dissuade him from pulling too much. However he has short periods where he is so focused on something that even the collar doesn;t deter him
Sunday 6th of March 2022
I was so encouraged to read about your struggles with pulling...my pup pulls as well and I feel like I have spent so much money and time on collars that will solve the issue and then don't. Currently I use a fabric martingale, but she still pulls. I think I am going to try the gentle leader next.
Sunday 6th of March 2022
I hope it helps!
Friday 30th of November 2018
Favorite training collar for ANY dog over five pounds and older than four months is a Mini Educator remote collar. Everything is taught on a regular flat buckle collar or prong collar first ( prongs MUST be fully rounded, not flat cut or sharp in any way. I use my Dremel tool and sanding belt to round any that are not).With the remote collar I train the dog to understand when they feel a stimulation on their neck they need to look to the handler for information. I start with the lowest level the dog can actually feel, my Mini Educator is a high quality model, about two hundred bucks, and worth every penny. I won't use or train with the cheap china made remote collars, as I have found them to be unreliable and can hurt the dogs. Your dog's life will depend on having a reliable recall if they are off leash, I won't take a chance using a model that I cannot rely on. I layer the e collar over basic obedience for heeling position, place command, redirecting from bad choices on the dogs part, and of course recall. All this can be done on low levels, and I've found it to work with any dog of proper size and age. Medium to higher levels can be used for life threatening things like livestock chasing, counter surfing, and aggression in some instances. Timing and ability to read the dog is very important on the higher levels, and a qualified balanced trainer is recommended for this. Most often since the dog understands there is a consequence for their actions, a low level is all that is needed for them to comply. Truly a tool that bridges the gap between human and canine communication.
Sunday 4th of February 2018
The prong collar works perfect for my German shepherd/border collie mix. No matter how much training, she is a 95 pound very strong dog. She easily pulled me to the ground a few times. With the prong collar I rarely even need to put any pressure on it anymore as she walks right beside me. I know prong collars freak people out so I will wrap it around my thigh and pull as hard as I can to show people that it isn’t sharp it just puts gentle pressure on the dog’s neck. My girl WILL let you know if she’s ever in ANY pain (believe me!) and she has never “voiced” anything about the prong collar. It helps us control her from jumping on people and at other dogs. The prong collar won’t work for all dogs but we tried harnesses, halti, regular martingale collars and this is the ONLY thing that works that she can’t get out of and doesn’t give her rashes!!