Going for a walk is one of the best parts of dog ownership. Walking your dog has health benefits for both you and your dog and is an activity that can be enjoyed all year round.
Dogs have all sorts of personalities and enthusiasm levels for walking, and so finding the right type of collar, leash and harness often can make walk time stress free and fun. There is a huge range of walking accessories and using the wrong one for your needs can make life more difficult. It can be a challenge to know which one is right for you, but we are here to help!
The collar that you choose for your dog should fit well. If you have a puppy that is still growing, look for a collar with an expandable length. When fitting a collar you should be able to slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s skin easily. Your dog should not be able to remove the collar themselves, this means the collar is fitted too loosely.
Collars come in all shapes, sizes and colours and can be a cute way to express your dog’s personality. Always look for a collar that has an attachment site for an ID tag, essential for any dog owner.
Light-up dog collars are useful if you walk early in the morning or late at night when it’s dark, helping you spot your dog in the distance if you walk off lead. Reflective strips or light-up dog collars can save your dog’s life as your dog will be seen from further away by oncoming traffic.
It’s completely ok to have more than one collar! Over time you may find your collar has some wear and tear, this is normal for an item that gets 24-7 use! If your dog scratches at a fabric collar often, consider using a more durable material such as a leather collar.
Prong or shock collars are not recommended by Firstvet.
Harnesses are great for large breeds or dogs who pull on the lead. When using a collar, all the pressure from the lead goes straight onto the windpipe and can be very uncomfortable for your dog and lead to choking. By using a harness, it transfers all the pressure to the shoulders, a less sensitive area. Harnesses reduce dogs’ ability to pull and allow you more control over your dog. You may not need a harness forever, a puppy harness may be enough until you have trained your dog to loose-leash walk.
The perfect fitting harness fits the body whilst allowing free movement, and you can fit a finger between the body and harness easily. If the harness causes hair loss or sores from rubbing the fit is incorrect.
Leads connect you to your dog on a walk, and there are many varieties. When using a retractable leash be careful to keep an eye on the length allowed as some dogs can become tangled easily. A slip lead is good to keep in the car as an emergency lead if your dog’s collar or lead breaks, as a slip lead can be both collar and lead. Make sure your lead is comfortable in your hands as you will spend a lot of time holding it. If you have a puppy beware your puppy will try and chew your lead on the first few outings so always have a backup with you!
Finding the right lead, harness, and collar is unique to your personal situation and preferences. Think about your lifestyle, when you like to go for a walk and how energetic your dog can be on the lead. This will help you identify the right equipment to keep you and your dog safe on a walk.