There are several types of leashes and collars that can be used together to stop a dog from pulling. While the right kind of leash will help, the collar or harness attached to the leash is actually what will prevent the dog from pulling. Not every leash, collar or harness is right for every dog. Reviewing the various types and ensuring a proper fit can help you decide which equipment is best to help your dog stop pulling on its leash.
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There are four basic types of leashes: fabric or leather, chain, retractable and long line. Not all leashes will stop your dog from pulling. The most common type of leash -- and the most useful for teaching a dog not to pull -- is 4 to 6 feet long and is made from leather or other fabric, usually nylon. The leash's shorter length forces your dog to walk closely by your side. By itself this leash will not prevent dog pulling. However, when used with the right collar or harness it can eliminate or reduce the behaviour.
A chain leash can prevent your dog from chewing through its leash, but depending on the size of the leash and the dog, chain leashes can get heavy and be hard to control. The chain leash is not recommended by the ASPCA to be used to teach a dog not to pull on its leash. A retractable leash is a hand-held device much like a tape measure. It holds several feet of cord, usually around 50 to 100 feet. When the dog pulls on the leash, the leash unwinds, giving the dog more room to roam. The retractable leash, suited for large open spaces where others will not get tangled in the long cord, may give your pulling dog the added freedom it seeks, but according to the ASPCA, it is not effective for teaching a dog not to pull. Finally, long lead or long line leashes are long cords between 10 and 30 feet long that are used to teach dogs the "come" command, as you can pull the dog back to you when it doesn't come on its own. Long leads are not effective at teaching dogs not to pull or to walk nicely on a leash.
To reduce your dog from pulling on its leash, you should use a leather or fabric leash with the right type of collar. A regular buckle or snap collar can be effective with a leash and the right training. Two other types of collars specifically made to prevent dogs from pulling are choke and prong collars. These two collars work by applying pressure around the dog's neck to stop it from performing the inappropriate behaviour. Prong collars pinch the dog's neck when it pulls, while choke chains are used to quickly tighten around the dog's neck and then release. The theory is that the dog will stop pulling to prevent being choked. However, this does not work with all dogs, as some will continue to pull. According to the ASPCA, choke chains and prong collars should only be used under the supervision of a certified professional dog trainer.
Head halters are specifically designed to stop leash pulling while the dog is wearing it. Head halters, like the Halti and Gentle Leader collars, work with or without a regular dog collar, depending on the brand. The head halter loops over the dog's muzzle and clips behind its ears. An adjustable strap ensures the correct fit. Under the muzzle is a strap with a small metal ring, where the leather or fabric leash is clipped. Some brands will also feature a clasp that snaps onto the buckle collar. The head halter works by pulling the dog's head toward you if it pulls on the leash. This is an uncomfortable sensation for your dog, but is not painful. It prevents leash pulling by forcing the dog to look at you and move closer to your side.
There are several harnesses and halters available that strap over the dog's body instead of around its throat. These include the front clip harness, a regular harness and the Sporn training halter. These harnesses work with a fabric or leather leash to give the owner more control over the dog, thus preventing the leash pulling. The ASPCA states that these are a good choice for small dogs or dogs with tracheal or throat problems. However, while harnesses may work for some dogs they will not work with all dogs. In fact, harnesses can actually encourage some dogs to pull, especially sled dogs and other working dogs.
Leashes and training collars will only stop your dog from pulling when you use them often and correctly. When the equipment is removed, it's likely your dog will begin pulling on its leash again. The ASPCA recommends teaching your dog not to pull using various training techniques and by using either rewards or punishments.
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