Collar or Harness?

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Barked: Thu Jul 8, '10 1:40pm PST 
My sister and brother in law have found themselves with an Amstaff, and I'm trying to help them find ways to fit the dog and her needs into their lifestyle. I'm trying to figure out what's better for this breed, a collar or harness, any imput would be much appreciated.

Bostons kiss on- the lips!
Barked: Sat Jul 17, '10 11:19pm PST 
I have a reactive AmStaff and I've tried pretty much everything! I assume you're concerned about pulling?

I LOVE my half-chain martingale collar. It prevents my dog from backing out of the collar and at the same time it only constricts so far, so won't completely close her airway or cause injury. It works no matter where I am relative to the dog, and will always release when the leash is slack. And I can give a soft leash correction or hard correction, or none, depending on the situation. There is a full fabric martingale also, that gives a softer correction -it just tightens as the leash is pulled tight, and stops the dog from backing out.

I have a front-clip harness (Easy Walk) that I really like. It takes no skill, doesn't hurt the dog at all, and easily prevents her from lunging away from me. I use it to bike with her, as it gently pulls her back towards me and prevents her from toppling the bike. I can't really use it to give a correction, but it is great for wandering, sniffing walks when you don't need a lot of control.

For more control, I have a head halter (Halti). It did take a lot of training for my dog to accept it. And it is really only good for keeping her close to my side, like heeling along busy sidewalks or obedience class. To let her wander and sniff, etc. and then get yanked around would be too hard on her neck. There is a risk of injury with this one if used too roughly. I do like that it closes her mouth, as she tends to shriek when she reacts to other dogs.

I have a prong but I only use it when I MUST have maximum control. It is a management tool for me, not a training tool. Correction from a prong collar can work, but there are significant risks -like escalating aggression- so it should only be used on certain dogs in certain circumstances, and ALWAYS under professional guidance. There are many, many drawbacks.... too many to go into here.

Regular (back clip) harnesses are okay, but don't give you much control and tend to encourage the dog to pull. My Boston has one, but he's not hard to hold back. smile

I will never use a choke chain due to the risk of soft tissue and cervical spine injury to the dog.

All of these products are just tools, and can't replace actual training. Positive training methods are the way to go, in combination with NILIF (non-confrontational leadership). No need to 'dominate' your dog. My Am Staff is smart, food-motivated and eager to please, and she LOVES her clicker. Eventually, I'll be able to walk her on a regular flat collar!


Edited by author Sat Jul 17, '10 11:21pm PST