When we exhibit at UK events, one of the main questions people ask, is "How do I stop my dog from pulling me on walks," followed quickly by "I have tried everything and nothing seems to work."
A lot of people think that the main reason for your dog pulling is down to your dog's desire to get from A-B and in many cases we agree with this theory. However, we also believe that a lot of it comes down to how much control you have over your dog and more to the point, how much control your dog knows you have over it when you are walking.
There are certain devices that help you to stay in control and we think that the combination of a double ended dog lead and high quality harness is a very good place to start.
We can explain the theory behind why this works and in this short article we'll include how to attach a double ended lead to a dog harness for maximum control.
First of all, you should choose a harness that is made from high quality materials and is well stitched and put together. The main straps should be strong, the buckles firm and fairly tight and the d ring and o rings (where you attach the lead ends) should feel robust and well made.
It doesn't matter if the harness is padded although we feel this is useful for spreading the forces evenly and cushioning any impact on the dog's torso. What is very important though, is how much support the harness gives and the fit should ensure that the dog's front legs do not rub heavily on the harness materials. When the harness is fitted and tightened it should be firm and stay in place if backward, left and right forces are applied.
Fitting the double ended lead to the harness
To take full advantage of the combined attributes of the harness and lead, you should choose a harness that has two lead attachment points. The first one will be in the most popular position, which is usually just behind the dog's shoulders. The second fastening should then be located on the front of the harness around the chest.
Attach one end of the double ended dog lead to the top ring and the other end to the front ring. You are left with a full loop of lead, which allows you to grab part of the lead at the top and part of the lead at the front. You should choose a position on the lead which will give you easy control for when you take the strain and for steering. Most people prefer to hold the end of the loop for taking the strain of any forward pulling forces and then have the hand further up the lead towards the front for steering.
If you take the strain on the part of the lead attached to the top ring, you will be attempting to stop your dog from pulling you forward and if you apply forces on the front lead, you will gently steer your dog to the left or to right. The steering direction is determined by which side of the dog you are standing on when walking.
Why are both attachments important?
The top attachment is very important because it basically acts as a brake. You will be applying counteracting forces on this part to bring your dog to a halt or to slow it down, just like you would do if you had a standard lead attached to a top ring on a harness or you were using a traditional collar. However, the front attachment is where it gets a bit more interesting.
When you lightly steer your dog from left to right it takes your dog away from the pulling action. A very light tug on the front part of the lead moves your dog slightly from left to right or right to left and more importantly it puts you in more control. What's more, your dog knows you are in control. You don't need to apply too much force at all - just be gentle and experiment. You want your dog to still enjoy the walk so don't try to move your dog too violently from left to right. All you need to do is guide/steer your dog lightly from left to right or right to left and this will usually do the trick.
There is no doubt that your dog just wants to get out there from A-B and in many cases it is excited to be out and about. An abundance of smells stimulates the senses and pulling can be even more noticeable if the final destination means fun, games or play. If the latter strikes a chord, why not forget about the play every second or third time so your dog doesn't always expect it in the same place on every walk.
By using a double ended dog lead and harness you should have more control over your dog and in our experience it really can make a big difference to your walk.