I tend to take my corgi on a lot of long hikes and he comes with me when I'm rock climbing. I often find that when we are crossing logs, water or on ledges that I really wish I had a harness for him so that if he falls I'll be able to catch him (don't worry if its ever particularly dangerous we put him in a pack and carry him that way so there is no risk). Also we cross a lot of boulder fields and I love having something easy to pick him up by when he needs that little bit of help. However I've noticed (and so have many other people) that corgis just seem to slip right out of harnesses.
Anyone have a suggestion for a harness capable of holding a corgi's weight in an emergency that won't just slide right off?
He is pretty good about using his little legs to hold himself in as best as he can with his current harness but I worry that when I really need it he won't have enough time to react and help me out.
I've posted about this. I have not solved the problem of how to protect a dog on dangerous log crossings.
I do have a chest harness that I've used to belay the dog on steep snow, and yes I've held falls. Dogs on snow can climb up much more easily than they can climb down. Just like us. Be sure to get the dog harnessed and on belay BEFORE you get onto steep snow, which is extremely dangerous and even many ice-ax people underestimate it. I learned the hard way, but the ankle healed perfectly without surgery. Like us, dogs are surprisingly agile on steep snow until they hit that icy spot...
I have a quick-draw leash system with a small but strong utility biner at each end. I clip it to my pack shoulder strap or to a climbing runner over my shoulder, hands-free. While dog is off-leash, stow it in various ways. A rubber band is handy for the slack, or to attach it to a pack strap. We drill the quick-draw leach routine all the time. I use a light braided nylon rope. You need to leash the dog instantly when you meet, say, horses on steep terrain. Or porcupines.
You need a reliable sit/stay. I often cross first with the pack, reconnoitering, then return for the dog.
Here's an example of a death-fall crossing where the dog would probably have been safer without the belay leash to trip over. 60-80' long, 2' wide, 7' above the water. PCT crossing the Suiattle River in Washington Cascades.
I tested the harness in a vertical hang before the crossing, and Al slipped neatly out of it. There are harnesses that will hold a dog, but they are not lightweight. Some have handles on the back, which can be handy: pick the dog up like a suitcase. Some harnesses are reflective, which I highly recommend: long-range visibility in headlamps and headlights.
If the dog is held in the harness, what next? If hanging free, you're going to haul him in? Is he going to pull you over? If in the current, can you maneuver him to shore before the current flips and drowns him? Ropes and current don't mix, and belayed humans have sometimes drowned in rivers. A rope can hold you under, or upside down, or backwards.
We should test our rigs towing the dog behind a boat to simulate current. Where to attach it, dorsal side or in front? Does it hold the dog's head out of the water?
IMPORTANT: if 2 dogs, make sure they don't interfere with each other. I've seen a dog knock another off the log in mid-crossing (in a forgiving place). Owner crosses first while partner holds dogs, then owner calls each across singly. Do NOT allow the dog to get in the position of turning around in mid-crossing. That's when they'll fall. Traffic management is the key to safety.
My climbing pal once encountered the aftermath of a fatality. Climbers leashed the dog while they climbed a short 1-2 pitch summit. The dog chewed the leather leash and fell to its death. It was not their dog.
Also, dogs are stupid about rockfall, initiating and avoiding. I heard of a dog who'd be left on the ground at climbing areas. A rock falling towards you looks like a tennis ball. The dog would try to catch rockfall, and eventually did.
FINALLY, MOST IMPORTANT: Beware of thick tangled blowdown. I think that's what lamed Al's leg. Not sure, I never saw a traumatic accident or slip, but we got into some thick tangled stuff one day, and he woke up lame next morning. I put him on a stay a few times while I scouted to find the trail under the tangled blowdown, then instead of going back and guiding him, I called him to me and let him find his own way. I think he slipped backwards and landed poorly, tweaking his CCL or something. Keep him close and pick the easiest way, don't encourage him to jump high logs, get him used to your help over obstacles. The "Corgi Toss" is a standard command (a gentle lift, not a toss). From someone who carried a corgi out 17 miles in a sling.
If you find a harness that works, you might reverse-engineer it with simpler, lighter materials, eliminating the hardware by stitching things down once you have the dimensions established.
Most dog gear seems way too heavy and over-engineered. It doesn't have to hold a car.
See my modified Martingales in the collar FAQ.
I would never put a pack on a corgi. Awkward, dangerous impediments.
I had a nice Ruff Wear double chest harness, great seat belt in the car. You can eliminate all those buckles. The things fit over the head. All you have to do is fold the feet through the rear strap. No buckling necessary.
Thanks John! This is all super helpful and I'll definitely be able to figure something good out from all your advice. Fortunately we don't do much in the snow so I have the winter to rig something up for next summer.
Id suggest a Kong Brand one. They sell them at petsmart and they have a handle...traffic loop on them which would be perfect and they're very sturdy
That Kong harness looks similar to the two we've used. Notice the plastic separating bayonet buckle? It's unnecessary. You can pull both loops over the dog's head if you fold the paws through the chest loop. Note that this proves the dog can fall out of it (possibly hurting a shoulder in the process). Once you get one of those sized, you could easily sew a much lighter one with no buckles at all.
We had a Ruff Wear with an integral leash loop that slipped through a tiny loop in the neck loop. Nice, handy design. Made a decent seat belt IF you keep it extremely short. Those seat-belt-type harnesses did not fare well in crash dummy tests (recent post here somewhere), but they might keep your dog from being thrown out of the car, and keep it from distracting the driver.