Do no-pull harnesses work? Ask a sled dog or two.

Note: this blog is being published as part of the Harness The Love campaign.

I recommend front-clip harnesses all the time.  "These special harnesses cut pulling immediately, and most dogs find them extremely comfortable" I say sincerely.  Many dogs in my class do eventually show up in one of these harnesses.  Their owners look thankful and appear to be healing, at long last, from the repetitive stress injuries to their shoulders.  The dogs also seem well-socialized and exercised - all sniffled out.

Often, though, I see a raised eyebrow.  "You think that bit o' cloth will stop our dog from pulling?"  Why yes, yes I do.  But you don't have to believe me: let's ask a sled dog or two.

Really? Sled dogs?

Sled dogs have been bred to pull.  They love pulling.  They scream joyously from the rooftops when it's time to pull.  I run a micro-rescue which places competitive racing dogs in pet homes, so I'm lucky enough to meet quite a few of these special dogs.  And even though I am a professional dog trainer, I do not spend the sometimes-considerable time needed to train these dogs to walk on a loose leash or heel.  They're learning a suite of other skills which are much more important.  Our rescue simply asks our adopters to purchase a front-clip no-pull harness, and let the dogs have all the time they need on walks to just be a dog.  In almost every case, these harnesses work perfectly well to turn a slavering sleddie into a handle-able hound.  The proof really is in the pudding. 

How does it work?

Front-clip harnesses change the point of leverage.  When the dog pulls, the harness simply turns the dog to the side.  Mushing harnesses, which are designed to get the most horsepower from a dog as is safely possible, have a close-fitting comfortable collar and an attachment on the back.  It follows that a leash attached to a collar or a harness with a back attachment actually invite pulling in many dogs.  Yes, that's right: back-clip harnesses can awaken the inner sled dog in even the most fine-boned Chihuahua.  Is that what you want?

The question do front-clip anti-pull harnesses actually work? can be answered by the brave dog owners who bring a sled dog into their homes.  According to new sled dog mom Emmy Neufeld (responsible for the wonderful picture of bandana-wearing Mr. Handsome Oyster, above right).

If it wasn't for the no-pull harness I would have had a really hard time, especially with my back.  There were days I could hardly walk ...but I have always been in control. Now we walk ...most days with a lot of slack in the leash.

Learn more about front-clip harnesses here, and please spread the word about these fantastic, safe, and sometimes even life-saving pieces of equipment!  Then pop a front-clip harness on your dog, grab a treat bag, and head out into your neighbourhood to enjoy a nice stroll.  An amble.  A saunter.  A breath of fresh air.