Thursday, 07 June 2012 16:26 My Favorite Dog Walking Tools
We walk 2 pit bulls in the Enterprise, NV area on a regular basis who get quite excited when we see other dogs on the walk. They can be quite a handful for one dog walker to handle, so we use a special dog walking tool to give us the maximum amount of leverage over these two powerful dogs. Needless to say, as we walk dogs all over Las Vegas and Summerlin we deal with our fair share of dogs that are pullers.
The Pros & Cons of Various Dog Walking Tools
When I first started walking dogs I was a one man show, and I did things the hard way. I would simply
use a leash clipped into the dog’s collar (some dogs would slip out of their collar on the walks, so I stopped doing that years ago), or I would throw on a simple slip down leash. Slip down leashes are great for walking dogs that are medium to mild pullers, and I use them all the time. This is the tool I use most often when walking my own dog in fact (see our products page for my recommendations). But when you have a bigger dog or a dog who loves to pull many times the slip down leash won’t get the job done.
I’m a pretty athletic guy, and at 6 feet tall I feel comfortable walking 2 Great Danes. But with as many dog walks as I did in a day I couldn’t have my shoulders wearing out after the first walk. Long story short, I knew I was going to need some help in this department. My first solution was to leash all the dogs to this scooter.
Ahhh those were the good old days when I was just figuring out how to walk dogs. That scooter was a lot of fun to walk dogs with! The dogs loved riding alongside it once they got the hang of it, but it turned out the scooter wasn’t a realistic solution for all my client’s dogs. Plus with 8+ dog walkers running around the city it wasn’t reasonable to have them all carrying around a huge scooter to each dog walk.
My next experiment was to have the dogs wear these doggy backpacks in hopes that would discourage the leash pulling a bit. We weighed the dogs down by adding canned food to the pouches, or on hot summer days we filled them with ice cold water bottles. The water bottles seemed to work the best and did the least damage over time to the fabric of the doggy backpack. The canned foods had sharper edges which would eventually wear holes into the pouches which was expensive and annoying.
This idea did lessen the pulling with some dogs, while for others it made no difference at all. My recommendation is if you’re going to use the backpack to keep the dog cool in the summer or to carry poop bags, your sunglasses or anything you may need on a long hike then by all means buy one of these handy tools. However, if you’re buying it in hopes that your dog will stop pulling I’d be sure to keep the receipt. Your dog may respond really well to the doggy backpack idea, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Next I got my hands on a dog walking tool called the Halti. It’s almost identical to a Gentle Leader but it has an extra strap that helps keep the pressure in the right spot. The Gentle Leader has a tendency to get pulled back over the dogs eye which is dangerous and annoying. The Halti has an imporved design that prevents this on all but the most determined pullers. The Halti also has a safety clip that clips directly into the dog’s collar. Most dogs will never need this safety clip, but some dogs are very sneaky and can get out of anything as soon as you turn your back. If you have a dog like this, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and you will definitely want the Halti.
The Halti was a big breakthrough for me, and my shoulders were instantly grateful that I discovered it. We still use the Halti for many of the dogs we walk each day, but it does have one major drawback… most dogs hate the pressure the Halti puts on their muzzle.
So for some this is the golden ticket and for many others it just creates a constant battle between the dog walker and an uncomfortable dog. Your dog will stop pulling almost entirely, but he is likely to try to rub the thing off his face the entire walk which is quite irritating for both of you. This resistance can be greatly reduced if you introduce the Halti properly (video to come). I go over how to introduce new things to your dog in my puppy training tips article (leashes, vacuums, kennels, etc), so I’d read it for ideas on how to properly introduce the Halti.
What is your favorite dog walking tool Ryan? Get to the point!
Okay, okay geez. The final solution that works for 90% of dogs with little to no resistance from them is the Easy Walk Harness. This dog walking tool is not like a normal dog harness which will make the dog pull more in most instances. Unlike traditional harnesses you clip into the Easy Walk Harness on the dog’s chest. It is designed so that when the dog pulls it pinches the shoulders together, and because it clips in on the chest it pulls the dog to the side as well. Pulling to the side pulls the dog off balance and gives you more control because you’re pulling the front of the dog towards you.
Traditional harnesses disperse all the dog’s pressure from pulling over a wide area making it very comfy and cozy for the dog to pull very hard. This is why dogs in weight pulling competitions wear a harness to drag thousands of pounds on a cart behind them. This is not what we want to encourage on a stroll through a Las Vegas neighborhood.
So buy yourself an Easy Walk Harness and thank me later. Even dogs who are mild pullers will usually stop pulling altogether once you slap one of these babies on. To be safe, you should introduce the Easy Walk slowly and properly (video to come). That way you ensure there is no resistance to this new tool and you and your dog will live happily ever after. Again, I go over how to introduce new things to your dog in my puppy training tips article (leashes, vacuums, kennels, etc), so I’d read it for ideas on how to properly introduce the Easy Walk Harness.
I hope the lessons I’ve learned the hard way save you lots of time, money and shoulder strength!