Find out how the right leash and collar can help with leash-tugging.
Wondering why you and your best friend can’t seem to ever agree which way to walk? Well, you’re not alone. Lots of people are dealing with leash-tugging, and it’s leading to injuries. And hey, it’s not just humans getting hurt. All that pulling is terrible for your dog’s neck.
The first thing to understand is that your dog isn’t being a jerk. They have what’s called an opposition reflex—that means when you pull on their leash to redirect them, their body automatically pulls back. And if you pull the leash harder, they’ll simply stop walking and dig their heels in. That means all that leash-pulling isn’t doing any good, and it could really hurt your dog’s throat or even collapse their trachea if they’re on the small side.
So what’s the answer? First of all, you definitely need to work on loose leash training, where you’ll learn to reward your dog for walking only when the leash is slack. That said, the right collar and leash combo will make a huge difference.
Let’s start with collars. The number one concern is protecting your dog’s throat and neck. Fit is really important to prevent injury—You should be able to place two fingers underneath the collar to make sure it’s not too tight. Next make sure it’s also not so loose so that your dog is able to pull a Houdini and slide out of it.
As for types, there’s actually a lot more out there than your basic buckle collar. If your dog pulls a little but not that much, a back clip harness is the way to go. It’s great for smaller breeds who really don’t need any force directly on the neck. But if your dog is a strong leash-puller, try a front clip harness. When your dog tugs, the front attachment pulls to the side to stop them. Want the best of both worlds? Try a harness. If you find you need even more control, a Martingale collar is another option. The functionality is such that it is made up of two loops—one that stays loose and another that tightens a bit (without hurting your dog) to correct them when they pull on the leash. It is also useful for dogs that pull out of their collars. Another option is a head collar, which goes behind the ears and around the muzzle to minimize head-pulling. One thing to note: all of three of these need to be fit properly and used carefully (feel free to ask us for help in store). And one thing to always avoid? Choke, pinch or shock collars. Not cool and not necessary.
Next, let’s talk leashes. It’s important to make sure you’re not walking your German Shephard on a Boston Terrier leash—big dogs need wide leashes with big clips and vice versa for smaller ones. Also, you’ll obviously want something strong. Look for a nylon or leather leash with a stainless steel or brass clip. And be sure to avoid anything beyond a super basic, sturdy leash. Until your canine friend has learned to chill out on the tugging, this is not the time to experiment with non-traditional options like slip leads and hands-free leashes.
Any cat walkers out there? We see you, and we salute you. Just remember, while cats should wear breakway collars around the house (they come apart when pressure is added, such as when kitties are performing a death-defying feat), they should always wear harnesses on walks.