Many of my customers ask me the same question over and over, what equipment can I use to stop my dog pulling? Well, the answer is, nothing. I have never seen a piece of equipment that has an 100% success rate in stopping pulling. The only answer to the question, is training.
There is however equipment that can assist in helping you manage pulling, and aid in the training process. I was finding I was recommending Perfect Fit harnesses to so many of my customers, that I started stocking them myself and this is why.
To start with, one of the most important reasons I believe most harnesses are a good choice for dogs that pull is because it saves the damage they can do to their necks. A dogs neck is very vulnerable and when a dog pulls it can cause all kinds of issues like tyroid disorders, ear and eye problems and collapsed trachea, some leading to lifelong problems for the dog. Many dogs that also pull on the collar a lot may obtain neck injuries, one sign of which is excessively licking the front feet. Serious injuries can occur if collars are used in conjunction with long lines/flexi leads if dogs are able to build up speed before hitting the end of the line, including the risk of a broken neck.
As well as this, if a dog is pulling due to reactivity, fear or stress, the act of pulling on something around their neck restricts the air flowing and will likely exacerbate the dogs feelings of stress. In human terms, if you put the top of your two thumbs together and press it against your neck, it gives you an idea of what a dog may feel like when they pull in a collar. If you have ever had a bad back or neck, can you imagine everywhere you walked, having something constantly putting pressure on that part of your body and blocking your airway at the same time?
So you have decided a harness is right for you. Why choose a Perfect Fit harness over other brands?
The harness comes in three separate pieces all of which are different sizes meaning they can fit perfectly to your dog, they fit so well in fact that they can be used for dogs, cats or even pet pigs! They have four clips, and the harness can be made so that the head hole is actually smaller than the dogs head. This makes it safer for escape artists or dogs that have managed to escape harnesses due to reactivity etc in the past as it prevents them backing out. In fact, they fit so well, and are so secure that they are even suitable for front amputee dogs!
The harnesses have two clips, one on the back like most harnesses, but also one on the chest. This means that used in conjunction with a double ended lead attached to both clips it can distribute the weight of the dog evenly. Using the harness like this really helps with managing and training a dog that pulls, or lunges.
Due to the harness having four clips, this means that it never has to be placed over the dogs head or manipulate the dogs legs. This is great for dogs that are either head shy, or not happy to be touched a lot as the harness can be put on with minimum fuss.
Bo enjoying running in her non-restrictive Perfect Fit
An important part of the Perfect Fit is that if it is fitted correctly it does not tighten, restrict movement and gives a full range of shoulder movement. This means that the front of the harness sits up, going around the sides of the neck and doesn't cut across the front of the shoulders, and that the sides of the harness go up around the whole shoulder instead of cutting across the sides of the shoulder. There have been studies done on dogs wearing "no pull harnesses" which operate by restricting the dogs movement. They show that whenever using these harnesses, the dog weight bears less on their front legs, even when the lead isn't attached to the dog. This can be orthopedically very harmful to the dog and used frequently enough the dogs gait could be permanently changed to the point that even when the dog isn't wearing the harness they still walk with an altered gait.
The Perfect Fit is fleece lined, which helps to prevent rubbing the dog and making them sore, and comes in multiple colours including reflective pieces which are great for the dark, winter nights. With the harness coming in three pieces this means that for those that like changing the colour of their harnesses, you can just buy separate top pieces change the colour instead of buying a whole new harness. This is also great for dogs that either manage to get hold of their harnesses and chew a piece, or a dog that outgrows their harness, you can just pay for the pieces that need changing instead of the whole harness.
It is very important to make sure that when you buy a Perfect Fit, it is fitted correctly. This means that the harness should not gape anywhere, and should only fit two fingers comfortable around each piece. For dogs that are a flight risk the head opening should be smaller than the dogs head so they cannot fit through it. When a lead is attached to the front clip, the front piece should stay relatively still without slipping down or to the side, and the top piece should not crinkle up. There should be full shoulder movement with the harness going right around the outside of the shoulder as opposed to covering part of it.
So the harness can be fitted correctly, I offer in home fitting. This is a specialised service for dogs that have reactivity, fear or aggression issues. For dogs that are particularly anxious, fearful or aggressive, as long as I can see the dog, I talk you through how to fit the harness so I can be completely hands off with your dog. I can also demonstrate how to correctly desensitise the harness and teach you how to help your dog become comfortable with the new equipment if necessary.
We always recommend an in home fitting for fearful dogs or dogs displaying aggressive behaviour or reactivity to humans. However if your dog would have no issues around being fitted, and is comfortable in an unfamiliar setting, I do offer some fittings where I waive the fitting fee. These are at dog training classes, but in a separate room so your dog doesn't have to meet any dogs (but may be able to hear them). These are subject to availability and based in Leek so please get in touch for more details.
For more information on harnesses and harness fittings, you can go > here < to our fittings page.