Poodle Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is a question that’s been asked many times but I always like fresh input and ideas.

Joey has been wearing a soft harness when we are out and about. It works well and it is very safe for his neck and doesn’t affect his gait so for the most part, it’s great. This just may be me as I’m not an expert trainer by a long stretch but I feel I cannot communicate in the same way as I can with a collar. Things are going fairly well and so far, Joey isn’t a puller but he is noticing other things more and the few times I’ve had to move him toward me I feel like the body resists more in a harness than I collar. I’m training and all of that so my question really isn’t about how to train to walk. Joey is pretty responsive to my voice but I’m guessing as we enter the teen phase we will have challenges, like most dog owners do. We still have a big world to train and navigate in. 😊

I notice it’s harder to communicate in a harness with Bobby too although we don’t use a harness for everyday outings anymore for that reason. It seems to me that one can communicate through the leash much better with a collar. Bobby understands the subtleness of the tiniest leash movements whereas with a harness I have to verbalize much more and his pulling desire begins to kick in.
He walks excellently in his martingale.

So…..my question. I have never had a little dog and I know it’s important to protect their fragile necks which is why we use the harness with Joey. I really love martingales. Is a martingale ever appropriate for a mini or should he always wear a harness? Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,028 Posts
If a car backfires nearby and Normie startle jerks, I don't want his neck injured. So I'd never walk him with any collar. But that's just me.

Normie wore a harness to classes. So we communicate with words and sounds more than leash movements. Plus I feel free with the harness to jerk him up and away if a situation warrants it.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
24,775 Posts
I think Martingales are great for younger dogs who don't entirely have their leash manners settled. The key for all sorts of collars and harnesses is not to jerk the dog around with them. Think of these sorts of tools as back ups and let the dog learn to correct itself. Work on increasing your little ones focus and attention in low distraction environments and install an order to get close and once you have that you can increase the level of distractions. In the meantime you could put both a martingale and the harness while you train for the transition.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Spottytoes

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,032 Posts
I think you are correct; the signals transmitted through the harness are more muted.

I compensate for that by using a lot of voice commands. Also, unless the dog is in a hyper & inattentive mood, I prefer to use the back loop instead of the chest loop. The way I use the harness I'm able to put mild pressure against the dog's chest and sides by tugging at different angles on the rear loop. It's a matter of teaching the dog that these subtle signals actually matter, including reinforcing them with voice commands, and not allowing him to drag me along like a boat towing a water skier.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,282 Posts
I agree, but still like harnesses.

With Trixie, I do a pull release motion rather than a constant tug. I have no idea if you have ever used a choke collar or pinch collar, but the same motion (tug, release pressure, tug). Very light, think closing your hand as the amount of pressure. I think that works better than just trying to drag on a harness.

If you did get a martingale I would go for a custom one that's way wider than the standard ones you see in store to better protect the neck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,875 Posts
Misha was the type of walker to injure himself in a neck collar. Sudden bursts of speed and crazy. But some dogs are naturally good leash walkers and might be fine. Neck collars work better for responsiveness because they are naturally more aversive (just not as strongly aversive as a prong), but you can communicate with a harness as long as you teach the dog to respond to pressure even when the pressure isn't aversive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
401 Posts
I find that I feel I can communicate better with a martingale or buckle collar, using squeezes of my hand on the leash, much like squeezes of my fingers on the horse's reins. However, I know that Topper needs to walk in a harness because he still gets occasional zooms when he interacts with another dog. So I'm teaching us to achieve the same level of sensitivity with the leash attached to the back loop of the harness as we have with the buckle collar or martingale collar. In combination with voice cues, I think it's working!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,072 Posts
I’ve been using harnesses for so long I don’t even remember what a collar feels like. You’ll get used to it.

In emergencies, I’ve had to pull dogs away from a lunging dog and having a harness is a savior. You just lift the dog up into your arms and that settles it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for the input everyone. I definitely work hard to keep the leash loose and don’t drag Joey along or let him pull. Safety wise it’s not as critical like it has been with Bobby and my previous dogs as I know Joey can’t pull me down but I want him to be just as good as a walker as Bobby and am working towards that. He’s doing relatively well for a pup but we are still learning.

I made Bobby’s martingale because I wanted it very wide. I like it a lot. It’s our go to collar. If I do decide on a martingale at some point I would make a wide one for Joey. I bought a new harness for Joey with a deep V so it doesn’t affect his trachea and it has thicker material so not as much give. The one we have been using is soft and sort of stretchy so maybe it’s harder to communicate with the stretch. It’s been super safe though.

Joey has been pretty responsive to my verbal cues so maybe I just need to adapt to that. I will keep him in a harness for now and reevaluate once he’s walking better. I still would like to use a martingale at some point though. I can see us using a martingale in low distraction environments and the harness in higher distraction environments. Will just wait and see. As Joey learns maybe I’ll decide a harness will be all we need. I’m learning as well as Joey. I have never taught a little dog to walk.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
24,775 Posts
One should never tug on a pinch collar. The whole point of them is for the dog to decide to correct itself. For any collar (or harness for that matter) there should never be constant pulling on the device. The tool will quickly lose all meaning.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,032 Posts
One should never tug on a pinch collar. The whole point of them is for the dog to decide to correct itself. For any collar (or harness for that matter) there should never be constant pulling on the device. The tool will quickly lose all meaning.
In horse training there is a concept that the release of pressure is a reward. One of my former trainers nearly ruined my gelding's mouth by not enforcing this rule when my husband was learning to ride. She let hubby hang onto the reins like a water skier. When the horse got sludgy about stopping she had my husband upgrade to a more severe bit. I got on the horse a month later and was, "Holy, @##$, where are the BRAKES?!" My horse had learned to ignore the pressure of the reins, because the pressure was constant and meaningless.
 

·
Registered
Beau 2yr old Mini Poodle
Joined
·
93 Posts
I did use a harness when Beau was a puppy and still learning to walk on a leash. At the time he wore a regular flat buckle collar all the time, but now he's collarless in the house. I was able to find a nice martingale that I like and that fits him comfortably, and now he wears that to go outside on his leash or tie-out. In fact the only time Beau wears his harness now is when he walks on his treadmill. I do find it a bit easier to walk him on his collar, but I think that's mostly because he's well behaved and pays attention to the person holding the leash :). I do believe that it totally depends on the dog and the situation(s).
 

·
Premium Member
Elroy: Standard Poodle 02/20/21
Joined
·
2,348 Posts
Elroy has been using a martingale since I got him. He's never even been in a harness. I bought one when he was a small puppy, and it was too small, and I never got another. He does well (loose leash walks) with the Martingale for just about everything. He does dart out, only once, and only once in a while, to chase a squirrel on occasion. The only use I would have for a harness, I think, would be to train him to be able to walk calmly with another dog. He gets so excited when we try walking with another dog that he's constantly pulling (scary hard on his trach.), although he did walk fairly nicely with my Sister's dog, Dale, once. Besides that, we've had to abort the attempt every time. It would be nice for him to be able to go for walks with his pals. Do you think I need to get him one, and why?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,032 Posts
Elroy has been using a martingale since I got him. He's never even been in a harness. I bought one when he was a small puppy, and it was too small, and I never got another. He does well (loose leash walks) with the Martingale for just about everything. He does dart out, only once, and only once in a while, to chase a squirrel on occasion. The only use I would have for a harness, I think, would be to train him to be able to walk calmly with another dog. He gets so excited when we try walking with another dog that he's constantly pulling (scary hard on his trach.), although he did walk fairly nicely with my Sister's dog, Dale, once. Besides that, we've had to abort the attempt every time. It would be nice for him to be able to go for walks with his pals. Do you think I need to get him one, and why?
Even though I use harnesses on my dogs, I'd say you are fine without one. I start mine in harnesses when they are tiny puppies, so they learn how to function on a leash without strangling themselves. By the time they are Elroy's age I would be using a martingale more than a harness. This time of year I tend to use harnesses a bit more, as I can clip LED lights to them to make the dogs more visible when walking after work.

Consider also all the possible connections between your brain and Elroy's brain: Elroy's neck, his shoulders, the martingale or harness, the leash, your wrist, your arm, your shoulder, your spine, etc. Elroy's neck is probably the most fragile of these connections. When you protect that weak link, the next weakest link is going to be something on your body, like your rotator cuff. A harness will tempt you to just hang on while the dog is bouncing up and down and lunging. Training based methods to stop the lunging are safer for both you and Elroy.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
24,775 Posts
cowpony, pressure on/pressure off is a concept I use in dog training, but the pressure is not usually direct physical pressure like a leash pop. Instead we use a 2nd person to apply pressure by approaching the dog and handler. The dog learns that the pressure will go away when they ignore it. It is a way to proof things like a close following judge or a judge approaching for the beginner novice sit for exam/novice stand for exam/utility moving stand. That is pretty different than what happened with your horse!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 94Magna_Tom

·
Registered
Joined
·
212 Posts
In fact the only time Beau wears his harness now is when he walks on his treadmill. I do find it a bit easier to walk him on his collar, but I think that's mostly because he's well behaved and pays attention to the person holding the leash :). I do believe that it totally depends on the dog and the situation(s).
Do you have a dog treadmill? If so, how does he like it?
 

·
Registered
Beau 2yr old Mini Poodle
Joined
·
93 Posts
Do you have a dog treadmill? If so, how does he like it?
Yep we have a Petsite brand dog treadmill. I decided to go ahead and buy one, because of my disability it is difficult for me to take Beau for a good walk. I'll have to try and get video of him using it. We haven't had it very long and he is just now comfortable enough with it that I'm gonna start having him use it everyday or every other day.
Does he like it? Honestly . . . no he really doesn't, but he will use it without too much complaint.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top