Before I got my first dog, I’d always assumed that I’d be using a collar and lead to walk my future four-legged friend. So why did my boy come with a harness?
Some quick internet searches later, I realised why. Yorkshire Terriers can be prone to collapsed tracheas – they’re not the sturdiest of dogs, despite thinking they are – the advice is to avoid using a lead attached to a collar as they can put pressure on the windpipe.
The harness my dog came with wasn’t the best. It was a puppy harness that he’d obviously had a while. It also got covered in paint after an unfortunate incident involving a nearby wall and a local builder who didn’t see the need to put up a ‘warning, wet paint’ sign. One swift trip to the dog groomers later, and I was on the look-out for a new harness.
Spoilt for choice
The trouble is, there are hundreds of the things out there. So it’s hard to choose the right one for your dog’s breed. They range from basic, a couple-of-quid models, to fancy ones that – literally – come with lights and whistles. Plus some harnesses looked like they still put pressure on the dog’s neck.
You can even buy ‘anti-pull’ harnesses. These sound like a godsend, if you’re fed-up with being dragged down your street by an over-eager hound, but none of the dog experts we’ve spoken to recommend them. Instead, you need to train your dog not to pull.
Still, at least we’ve come a long way from the days when Barbara Woodhouse instructed owners to use choke chains. Even back then, my family couldn’t quite believe that a dog expert on the telly was recommending them.
Barking up the right tree
My search for a new harness also led me to discover that, each month, thousands of other people are also looking online for info. This is why we’ve tried out 11 dog harnesses ourselves so we can help any dog owners out there to choose the best one. We’ve also teamed up with the Blue Cross to make a video to show you how to train your dog to wear a harness.
As well as having my own dog, I regularly walk a dog that does use a collar with a lead – a 13 year-old, very well-trained Parsons Terrier with impeccable recall, even in the presence of squirrels. But looking in my local dog walking haunts, she’s in the minority and harnesses are becoming more popular.
So what’s your preference to use with a lead – collar or harness? Is your dog a breed that’s better off with a collar or would you only use a harness?