I’ve recently had the privilege of traveling to Western Europe- specially Paris and London and was NOT astonished by what I shall refer to as the “Harness Phenomenon”. Why? Ten years ago, even five years ago it was almost unheard and unseen for nearly all dogs to be wearing harnesses on walks. The push for harnesses in my opinion has gone towards a swing to an almost extreme direction where-as when harnesses first emerged no one was using them. Now, every sized dog hundred pounder to 3 pounder is suited up in one on this side of the atlantic or that. Could this be an over-use or a miseducation of proper harness usage?
Here are some possible benefits of using a harness for dogs:
1) If your dog’s breed is susceptible to a collapsable trachea (Yorkies), then a harness might be a healthy alternative.
2) If your dog’s harness is also combined with useful function– also a rain coat, windbreaker, sweater, or thunder shirt to assist with reduced anxiety- not bad.
3) If you need the extra security that your dog will not slip out of it’s collar and you double clip the harness to the collar.
Here are some common misuses of a harness:
1) Your dog is pulling and you need an immediate solution at which point you purchase a harness and never bother to correct your dog leading YOU on the walks.
2) You would like to gain more control over your dog on walks so you think a harness will assist with this. Harnesses are fine for walking most small breed dogs but are not a substitute for training. Also some harnesses like the easy walker are great alternatives, but never address the core issue which is that your dog wants to walk you. This comes down to respect and proper protocol that owner’s can benefit from learning from a trainer. With humans as in with dogs, the confident, clear communicator leads…if your dog is pulling you, there are many ways to adjust how your dog relates to you in the home and outside that can help you regain respect and increase trust in the eyes of your dog. Then after some training and bonding you can both walk side by side…with or without a harness.