Collars, Leashes, Harnesses, Haltis, Gentle Leaders…Oh MY!

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Lifestyle, Paws for Thought, Products | 0 comments

I have written in the past about the importance of the walk and some of the most common collars and leashes available to help you and your four legger make it around the block.  As promised, here is more information on gear to control your wayward pooch!

Buckle Collar

The standard buckle collar if sized properly will allow for a secure fit around the neck and provides less of an opportunity for the collar to slip off during walks or play.  These collars typically come in a variety of colors, styles and material and are great for attaching an identification or license. This collar is not necessarily good for a dog that is a constant puller while being walked.  Often dogs that are pullers will gag or choke when exerting force against these types of collars.  Special attention should be given to those feisty small breeds who insist on walking you!  If pulled too hard, harm could be done to their windpipe. 

Head Collar (Halti or Gentle Leader)

The head collar (not to be confused with a muzzle) fits around the bridge of the dog’s muzzle and neck.  The head collar allows minimal force while allowing maximum control in moving your dog in the desired direction.  This collar is excellent for those dogs that are pullers and for those owners who don’t feel comfortable with a choker or prong collar. The combination of this collar and proper training can do wonders in making your walks enjoyable for both you and your dog.

While initially your dog may seem uncomfortable with this collar (pawing at it or refusing to move) over time and patience they will adjust.  If used incorrectly or if the dog is pulled with too much force strained neck muscles could result. 

Martingale Collar

The martingale collar is a slip collar that has limited capability to tighten.  (think of a choker collar covered with material). This allows the dog to be comfortable while still giving the owner some control.  While the collar does not easily come off the dog’s neck even when back pulling, it is not very effective for those dogs that are constant pullers.


A standard harness wraps to a dog’s body and when fitted appropriately provides good comfort while minimizing pressure on the neck.  The standard harness is typically effective for controlling little dogs that pull.  It is not very effective however for big dogs since they can utilize the full force of their legs and chest to pull. 

*There are certain no-pull harnesses available which vary pressure between the dog’s front legs and chest to provide the necessary control.

Choke Collar

Many trainers and owners use the standard Choke collar.  To be used correctly, the timing and release of the correction must be mastered.  It is a quick jerk that is applied at a correct angle, speed and with proper timing.  Many trainers are able to use this type of collar flawlessly, but it is very difficult for the average dog owner to learn.  If you are using a choke collar and notice that most of the time your dog is pulling and gagging…this may not be the correct collar for you.

Prong Collar

Widely misunderstood, the Prong Collar dates back 2,000 years to the Monks of New Skete.  They used the collar as a training device as does modern day training phenom Cesar Milan.  The concept of the prong collar is to apply pressure evenly around the neck which is much gentler and safer for the dog. The smaller the links the more effective the correction.  It has limited tightening capacity unlike most choke and slip collars.  Unlike the prong collar’s even pressure, Choke collars provide a quick jerk and impact.  The standard buckle collar provides a steady, relentless pressure on the neck. 

Of course prior to using ANY collar that has a tightening capability (Prong, Choke, Martingale or Slide) consult a trainer and learn how to use it correctly.  In the wrong hands, a collar with unlimited closing capacity can cut a dog’s air off completely.  Using a correctly executed and effective correction will work after just a few tries.  Whereas, an ineffective correction will never train what you wish and can either harm or instill worse habits.   

Everyone has their own experience.   Some folks say that a harness works on their 85 lb lab and others effectively use a choke collar on a smaller breed.  Use what works…just make sure you are using it correctly!

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