How Equipment Design affects Dog Behavior


No-pull Leashes can be helpful in certain circumstances for dogs that pull out of excitement or reactivity to other dogs. They don’t actually stop a dog from pulling or change their mind about the reason they pull, but do give you a bit of physical advantage when a dog does pull - very helpful for larger dogs.


examples of no pull harnesses that are not recommended

I DO NOT recommend the “no-pull” harnesses that are designed to restrict shoulder movement - these are typically designed with a horizontal strap that sits over the dogs chest & shoulder and restricts movement of the scapula. Think of these as tying your shoes together and then trying to run - you may be able to, but it’s not allowing your natural range of movement and can lead to joint issues if used longer term.

The “no-pull harnesses” can also be challenging to fit on a broad-chested dog. They can fit too tightly in their armpits, risk catching their skin in the buckle and potentially cause chafing, and I’ve also encountered dogs who can slip out of them if they get their front leg over the leash.


images of examples of Y front dog harnesses

A Y-Front Harness is a better choice for most dogs, and if it has both a front and back connection point - can be turned into a no-pull harness by the addition of a double-ended leash with floating handle [link to product]

Also if your dog is at risk of slipping out of their harness, you can add a backup strap between the harness and collar to provide that extra bit of safety. 

Traffic Leashes can be another great tool for dogs that tend to pull. They can go by many terms, but typically these are hands free or handheld leashes with additional loops or handles on them that allow you to take a shortened grip on the leash when needed. 

Short leashes do slightly reduce the amount of “pull” that a dog can exert on the leash, and they also don’t allow a dog to build up speed before hitting the end of the leash when they break into a run. I use the traffic loops on my leashes on a daily basis, primarily to gain better control temporarily while another dog is passing or we’re passing a sitting rabbit.

Physical tools such as specialized leashes are definitely helpful, but the only way to get consistent behavior is by building a relationship with your dog based on positive reinforcement and mutual respect. 

Do you want to walk your dog, have your dog walk you, or walk in partnership together?


young german shepherd dog sitting and planting his front feet to resist being pulled by a leash

Importance of Selecting the Right Dog Leash

Don’t be restricted by what leashes are available in your local big box pet stores, think about what types of walks your dog loves to do, identify what situation now is most challenging, and explore what type of leashes or other equipment can help you manage you and your dog’s challenges.

I firmly believe that the right equipment can make your walks and your training sessions more enjoyable, which is why I’ve designed a variety of leash types for different situations. Maybe there is something suitable for you, or we can discuss a custom leash design that would better meet your needs?

I encourage you to make a resolution this new year, make a plan to improve your dog walks with the right equipment, patience, and consistent positive reinforcement training. Who knows where you can be in a year in developing a wonderful relationship with your exceptional dog?

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