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How Do I Choose the Best Collar and Leash?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Puppies are playful, adorable companions who sometimes grow up to become annoying or even terrifying beasts when it’s walk time. With the right collar and leash, even the most boisterous bad boy or girl can walk like a perfect gentleman or lady. Whether to choose a harness, halter, slip, or chain collar depends in part upon the dog’s health and behavior as well as on your own personal taste. Short or long leashes come in leather or nylon in addition to retractable or set length, and the best one will likewise depend on your needs.

Well-behaved mutts are perfectly willing to let their humans take the lead, literally. They should heel, walking beside and slightly behind the owner unless given permission to wander a bit. Dogs that don’t have problems with this will do just fine with a buckle or clip collar and leash that goes around the neck. Just be sure the collar isn’t too tight because it’s encircling the dog’s neck and windpipe.

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If your pup means well but loses its mind at the sight of a dancing squirrel or kicking baby, a slip collar is a better choice. Any naughtiness can be easily corrected with a sharp yank to the side to pull your friendly beast off balance. The dog will learn quickly that certain behaviors are associated with a sudden lack of equilibrium. This type of collar and leash combination doesn’t work well with a retractable lead because you need to be at the ready to deliver a sharp tug when necessary, and the longer the lead, the harder that is.

If your pooch has an elegantly narrow neck or a smooshed-in snout or suffers from arthritis, a harness is a good selection. These wrap around the dog’s front legs and belly, so the collar and leash attaches between the shoulder blades. They eliminate pressure on the neck, and associated breathing or bone problems, and are more comfortable too.

Halters, which are gaining in popularity, might still draw a look askance at the dog park because they have the appearance of a muzzle. There’s nothing cruel about them, though, and they are the right choice for dogs with serious control issues on walks. A halter means that Fido can’t possibly pass you by in order to get to that Doberman it wants to challenge.

Collars laced with prongs are intended only as a training tool to use briefly with dogs that are determined to yank you off your feet. Before resorting to a pronged collar, try a halter, first. These can be dangerous to your dog's health and should never be left on when it is unattended.

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