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MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS: HARNESSES TEACH DOGS TO PULL (NO, THEY DON’T!)



When requests for harness recommendations crop up online, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will say that putting your dog in a harness will cause him to pull, he will never be able to walk on a loose lead, harnesses should only be worn by sled dogs, etc. (I’m sure you have heard all of these comments before, multiple times).


However, this really is not the case at all. Wearing a well fitting harness allows freedom of movement without pinching or chafing the dog, making pulling more comfortable, but the harness itself will not encourage pulling. Yes, it is absolutely possible to achieve loose lead walking with your dog in a harness. Even if you take part in sports such as canicross or mantrailing, where your dog works out in front of you and pulls into the harness, a separate harness for those activities can function as a “work cue” so that the dog associates the kit with the specific “job”.




Top tip: it’s always best to be vague about quite how many harnesses you have amassed when questioned by your other half. “Yes, every one of them is used, and yes, they are all necessary, and no, they didn’t cost much at all, and no, I haven’t bought a new one for ages …”  etc etc.


Anyway, I digress - back to harnesses not teaching dogs to pull!


Here’s a little analogy which I hope will help to make sense of this. Before I became a sloth-like, dressing gown-clad, tea-swilling writer, I used to enjoy running. It was really hard work initially, and an effort to find the get-up-and-go to run. However, I realised that in order to enjoy it more, I needed to improve, and in order to get better, I needed to put the training in. No amount of fancy running gear would turn me into a runner, although the addition of running tights and a sports bra would reduce the jiggle-factor significantly enough to make the whole experience a bit more comfortable.


The point I’m trying to make here is that it is the training that makes the athlete, not what you wear; equipment teaches nothing, training does!






If you still aren’t sure what to think, why not check out this blog post to find out more?



If you need help with your loose lead walking, there is a fantastic free online workshop in the Canine Principles skills hub - I thoroughly recommend it!



If you have found this useful, why not subscribe to receive my future blog posts? Don’t forget to check your junk mail folder, just in case! You can also find my blogs, along with other science-based, dog-centred posts and articles over on my Facebook page: Trailie Paws For Thought | Facebook



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