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Dos & Dont’s of choosing a collar, leash or harness

As published in Canadian Dogs Annual
Dos & Dont’s of choosing a collar, leash or harness

It isn’t just a practical purchase; it’s a personal statement. Whether you’re buying just one collar, harness or leash, or something for every occasion on Fifi’s busy social schedule, you have more choice than ever when it comes to her “jewelry” and accessories. With such a huge selection of products out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed before you even start, but remembering these “dos and don’ts” will help ensure you get something that best meets the needs of you and your best friend.

Do consider your goals

What do you want to achieve with these products? Are you going to use them for training, or just for walking? If your dog is perfectly trained, than a traditional collar and leash is great. If he isn’t, or you’re working with a puppy that has never walked on a lead before, you may need something more specialized.

Do choose practicality over looks

Yes, it’s hard to resist all those bright colours and patterns, but quality, fit and comfort should come first. Happily, because more and more people want products that look stylish, many of today’s offerings combine fashion with function!

Don’t buy choke chains or pinch collars

These nasty devices can injure your dog’s neck, throat or esophagus. If he pulls a lot, consider a head collar, which puts light pressure on his muzzle and at the back of his neck rather than on his throat. A harness is another alternative.

Do invest in quality

Paying a little more up front ensures you get something durable and long lasting that’s comfortable for your dog and easy for you to use.

Don’t forget to measure up

A poorly fitting collar or harness is not only uncomfortable, but can cause undesirable behaviour. Many manufacturers offer sizing tips to help you get the best fit. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to comfortably insert two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck, or the harness and his body. If it’s a squeeze, the product is too tight; if there’s extra space, he might be able to wriggle his way free.

Do look at different materials

Collars, harnesses and leashes can be made from leather, nylon, webbed cotton, canvas, poly knit mesh, hemp and other fabrics and materials. Soft, durable and washable, nylon dries easily after getting wet, so it’s good for dogs that like the water. Leather and hemp are also long lasting and become softer and more flexible with use.

Do consider his size

Save the wide, heavy leather collars and leashes for the big guys, and choose lightweight products for small dogs.

Don’t forget ID

Collars should be equipped  with an identification tag that includes your name, address and contact phone numbers, just in case your dog runs away or gets lost. Check the tag regularly to make sure it’s still legible and securely attached.

Do shop around

You want something that’s going to be easy on your hands as well as suitable for your dog, so check for softness, comfort and grip as well as strength and durability. Most leashes are an average of four to six feet long, and come in a variety of materials, weights and thicknesses.

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