There is much debate about whether dog harnesses encourage pulling. Some people believe that because harnesses were originally used by working dogs to help them pull things like sleds their natural instinct when wearing a harness is to pull. Others are of the opinion that while some harnesses do little to discourage or prevent pulling, they do not actually encourage it. Let us look at both arguments.
Harnesses Encourage Pulling
Those who prefer to use a collar for dogs when training, tend to be of the opinion that harnesses encourage pulling because it is a dog’s natural instinct to pull and that the harness is more comfortable when doing so. The good folk at Voyager Harness disagree. They believe that regardless of whether a collar or a harness is used, the dog can be effectively trained not to pull.
That being said, some people are of the opinion that it is the design of the harness that encourages pulling. The more comfortable the harness, the more likely it is that the dog will pull. A fleece lined chest piece on a harness, for example, gives the dog something comfortable to push against. With nothing to prevent pulling, the dog will have more strength and leverage to pull.
Harnesses Do Not Encourage Pulling
A martingale type harness is not designed for comfort and discourages pulling because it gently squeezes when the dog tries to push forwards. This type of harness does not have a chest piece for the dog to push against. Instead, it has a loop that fits around the front of the chest and just behind the front legs. The squeezing motion of the harness discourages pulling because it becomes uncomfortable for the dog.
Many dog trainers believe that the only way to discourage pulling in a dog is to train it properly. If you allow your dog to pull you along regardless of whether it is wearing a collar or a harness, it is being rewarded and will continue to do so.
Dogs understand reward and consequences, so to prevent pulling you must be patient and apply consequences straight away. The best way to stop a dog from pulling is to stop walking and prevent it from getting to where it wants to go. This may be something that you will have to do several times before it gets the message. This is where patience comes in. If you cannot be bothered to stop and allow your dog to pull, then it will not learn.
Why Do Some Dogs Pull?
There is no denying that it is extremely frustrating to walk a dog that continues to pull the entire time. It can place huge pressure on your arms and back trying to pull the dog back to where you want, all the while it continues to pull and pull. So, why do they do this?
Dogs walk quicker than humans and they like to walk ahead. They also do not instinctively know that when they feel pressure on a leash they should stop, so many will just drive on. Dogs love to be outside and can get excited, particularly if they know they are going to their favorite park.
Training a dog to walk on a leash is hard and it requires patience and consistency. In fact, it is probably one of the hardest skills to teach a dog.
If you want your dog to stop pulling, the responsibility is on you to teach it. No harness or collar will do this for you. Your dog needs to learn that there will be no reward for pulling.