Whether to use a lead or a harness for your dog will depend on several factors, including your dog’s individual needs and behaviour, as well as your personal preferences. Both leads and harnesses can be effective tools for controlling and training your dog, and they each have their own advantages and disadvantages. A lead is a length of rope or chain that is attached to a collar or harness and is used to control the movement of a dog. Leads are typically used for walking and obedience training, and they can provide a strong and secure connection between you and your dog. However, leads can put pressure on a dog’s neck, which can cause discomfort or even injury, particularly if the dog pulls or lunges while on the lead. A harness, on the other hand, is a device that fits around a dog’s chest and shoulders, and it is used to distribute the pulling force evenly across the dog’s body. Harnesses are often used for dogs who are prone to pulling or who have neck or respiratory problems. They can provide greater control and comfort for both the dog and the owner. Ultimately, the best choice of lead or harness will depend on your dog’s individual needs and behaviour, and it’s important to consult with a behaviourist or dog trainer if you are unsure which option is best for your dog.
To use a dog harness, start by selecting a harness that is appropriate for your dog’s size, breed, and needs. The harness should fit snugly and securely, without being too tight or too loose. Once you have the right harness, place it on the ground and allow your dog to sniff and explore it. This will help them to become familiar with the harness and reduce any anxiety or fear they may have about wearing it. Next, hold the harness open and invite your dog to step into it. You may need to gently guide their front legs through the harness openings. Once your dog’s front legs are through the openings, lift the harness up and over their head, and then fasten the buckles or clips to secure it in place. Adjust the harness as necessary to ensure that it fits snugly and comfortably, and check that your dog has full range of motion. Once the harness is on, allow your dog to walk around and get used to the feeling of the harness. Reward them with treats and praise for behaving calmly and comfortably while wearing the harness. Over time, your dog will become more accustomed to the harness and will be able to enjoy walks and other activities with you safely and comfortably.
Lead training is an important part of basic obedience training for dogs. It involves teaching your dog to walk on a lead without pulling or lunging, and it can provide a safe and comfortable way for you to take your dog out for walks and other activities. To lead train your dog, start by introducing them to the lead in a controlled and familiar environment. Let them sniff and explore the lead, and reward them with treats and praise for showing interest in it. Next, attach the lead to your dog’s collar or harness and allow them to walk around and get used to the feeling of the lead. Gradually increase the distance and duration of the walks, and use treats and praise to reward your dog for walking calmly and following your lead. If your dog starts to pull or lunge, stop and wait until they calm down before continuing. Over time, your dog will learn to walk on the lead without pulling, and they will be able to enjoy walks and other activities with you safely and comfortably. More about lead training your dog.
Types of leads
There are many different types of dog leads, and the best option for your dog will depend on their individual needs and behaviour, as well as your personal preferences. Some common types of dog leads include:
- Standard leads: Standard leads are the most common type of dog lead, and they are typically made of nylon or leather. They have a handle at one end and a clip at the other end, which attaches to the dog’s collar or harness. Standard leads are versatile and can be used for a variety of activities, such as walking, training, and playing.
- Retractable leads: Retractable leads, also known as extendable leads, have a built-in mechanism that allows the length of the lead to be adjusted. This allows the dog more freedom to explore while still being under the owner’s control. Retractable leads are popular with many owners, but they can be dangerous if not used properly, and they are not recommended for dogs who are prone to pulling or lunging. Often they are associated with some bad dog behaviours.
- Training leads: Training leads are longer than standard leads, and they are designed to give the dog more freedom to move while still being under the owner’s control. They are often used for obedience training and other activities that require more distance between the dog and the owner. Training leads are typically made of nylon or leather, and they may have a handle at one end and a clip at the other end, or they may have a loop that can be worn around the owner’s waist. They are great way to start recall training for a dog.
- Slip leads: Slip leads are a type of lead that is made from a single piece of rope or chain that forms a loop. The loop is placed over the dog’s head and tightened around the neck when the dog is being led. They can be quick to be attached. Slip leads are simple and easy to use, and they can provide a secure and comfortable way to control your dog, but need to be done supervised, as they could be a choking hazard. For this reason most doggie daycares won’t allow these types of leads.
Recall training with a lead
Recall training, also known as “come” training, is an important part of basic obedience training for dogs. It involves teaching your dog to return to you on command, and it is essential for keeping your dog safe and under control in a variety of situations. To do recall training with a lead, start by attaching the lead to your dog’s collar or harness and allowing them to walk around and explore. When they are a few metres away from you, give the command “come” in a clear and firm voice, and use treats and praise to encourage them to come back to you. If your dog doesn’t come to you immediately, gently tug on the lead to encourage them to move in your direction. Once your dog reaches you, reward them with treats and praise, and allow them to continue exploring. Repeat this process several times, gradually increasing the distance between you and your dog. Over time, your dog will learn to come to you on command, even when they are at a distance from you. It’s important to be consistent with your training and to always reward your dog when they come to you, so that they learn to associate the “come” command with positive experiences.
Restricted breeds and leads
Restricted dogs in Ireland must be on a short, less than 2 meters (6.5 feet), lead. The leash must be ‘sufficiently strong’ or it needs to be a chain. Only someone older than the age of 16 should be holding the lead and be comfortable controlling the dog.
What is a prong collar?
The use of prong collars, also known as pinch collars, is a controversial topic in the world of dog training. Some trainers and behaviourists believe that prong collars can be an effective training tool for certain dogs, particularly those who are difficult to control or who are prone to pulling or lunging. Prong collars are designed to mimic the sensation of a mother dog’s bite, and they use a series of prongs or spikes that apply pressure to the dog’s neck when the lead is tightened. This pressure is intended to get the dog’s attention and to discourage unwanted behaviours, such as pulling or lunging. However, many people believe that prong collars are inhumane and that they can cause physical and psychological harm to dogs. Prong collars have been banned in some countries, and their use is highly regulated in others. If you are considering using a prong collar for your dog, it’s important to consult with a professional trainer or behaviourist who has experience with these collars and can provide guidance on their use.
Are shock collars / prong legal?
There is some conflicting sources about this. According to this Journal article from 2018 shock collars are not deemed legal, either for electric fence type enclosures or training collars. You won’t find prong collars / e-collars for sale in Irish petshops