So I got two harnesses, one for Ruby and one for Cassie, to jury-rig the proposed car tie-downs. That doesn't seem like the greatest idea ever to hit the pike. BUT... I decided to try using them for the daily doggy walk, instead of their collars.

Cassie, a grown dog, is not a dragger. But Ruby the Corgi Pup is only just beginning to get the "heel" idea. She will drag for half a block or so, until her ginger wears down and she remembers. The other day I'd put a rolled leather collar on her instead of her usual wide nylon collar, and I think it hurt her! She started to choke and gasp -- injured trachea? It went on and on and scared the bedoodles out of me. Of ocurse, I picked her up and took her back home.

She's none the worse for wear, but I decided to try using a harness instead.

The difference is AMAZING! Ruby does not drag when she's hooked up to the harness. The gentlest little tug on the leash will remind her to slow down. There's no way it can choke her, and it doesn't seem to irritate her in any place under her little legs or along her flanks.

Don't know why this would be. Back in the day, I tried harnesses on the bodacious GerShep (this dog didn't have drive; she had hyper-drive!), to ridiculous effect. At one point I got this crazy thing that was supposed to discourage dragging by exerting pressure on the dog's forelegs when it surged ahead. Hilariously ineffectual!

This is not a special training harness. When I went into Petco and asked for the easiest-to-use harness in the house, this is what they came up with. And it's very simple: you open it up and slip the left leg in where it's marked "left leg" and the right leg in where it's marked "right leg" and snap it shut. Even I can do it. Size is easy to adjust, and when it's properly fitted, the dog hardly seems to notice it's on.

At any rate, I don't know why it works, but it does work. Ruby is progressing nicely in the doggy-walk training department.

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Comment by Vicky Hay on September 2, 2014 at 5:10pm

@ Rebecca: For the nonce, I'm still pretty happy with the step-in harness. This morning we went for a doggy-walk. She pulled a little but by a quarter- or half-way through was doing pretty darned well most of the time. I'm using the obedience-training techniques I learned from Anna the (DRIVEN!) German shepherd's behavioralist, only with the harness instead of a collar.

It's definitely working. She DOES look up into my face when lured to do so and that helps to get her attention. She DOES respond at a change of direction or at a command to "sit." She DOES now understand what "Easy" means. She's getting the idea of what "Wait" means.

The stupid GD surgery and its aftereffects, plus the 110-degree (plus) heat have kept me from taking her out every single day. But even without a once- or twice-daily doggy walk, she's already getting the idea. I think when the weather cools and the surgeon is chased out of my life (we sincerely hope these phenomena coincide in time...), Ruby will be just as polite on the leash as Cassie the Corgi is.

Comment by Rebecca Marie O'Bryan on September 2, 2014 at 1:56pm

i found with every dog i have had does better on a harness but every dog is different. Baden has martingales, regular buckle collars, slip collars, and harnesses. trying to find something that wouldnt cause him to drag me down the street was torture but guess what stopped the pulling? a step in harness. the collars just made him pull the whole walk. the step in harness he would feel me pull back on the leash and he would slow down instantly 

Comment by Vicky Hay on August 30, 2014 at 12:39pm

Maybe the positive response to the harness is just a peculiarity of this individual dog. If so, I sure hope it continues!

Comment by Jane Christensen on August 30, 2014 at 11:33am

I like martingales the best also.

Comment by Vicky Hay on August 29, 2014 at 1:18pm

@ Jen, Yuki & Ellie: Yeah, the usual collar I use is a martingale type. Just happened to have the old rolled leather collar at hand that day...and that's the one that choked her. She does drag a bit with the martingale, though she'll settle down after about half a mile.

Seems weird that she responds so well with the harness. You'd think it would be MUCH easier to engage in the Iditarod routine with a harness. ????  Maybe the deal is that she's somehow stimulated to pull by the collar, and that stimulus isn't there with the harness...I dunno. Whatever, it's mighty nice to discover.

Comment by Yuki & Ellie on August 29, 2014 at 9:57am

Every doggy is different and some simply do better with a harness.  :)  It's good to hear it's working for little Ruby!  Now, if you put a harness onto Yuki he immediately believes that he's a sled dog and needs to start running the Iditarod!  A standard (buckle style) collar causes him to turn his nose up at any command I issue as he just pulls wherever his nose leads him.  The sweet spot for him, at the moment, is a martingale collar paired with a doggy backpack.  The martingale reminds him not to pull so hard and the backpack, complete with a filled water bottle on each side, slows his pace down. 

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