View Full Version : Don't buy... a harness??

18th September 2008, 09:04 PM
I'm a bit baffled (easily done :o) but I am reading through the Cavalier Club's Puppy Pack and it states "Don't buy a harness to walk your dog. A collar and lead is best".
Can I just ask why?

One of my pet peeves is seeing people drag their dogs around on a collar, or dogs who pull against a collar and seem to gasp and choke on every stride. Collars, unless very tight, are easy to slip out of, which therefore means a loose dog without it's tags on. We have walked our lurcher on harnesses since puppyhood and had no problems, and having used collars with previous dogs, I have to say I love harnesses.
Is there a particular reason why the Club says not to use one?

18th September 2008, 09:10 PM
don't know y the club says not to buy a harness but i know alot of us use harness as cavalier get a condition called SM which affects there neck and back, harnesses put less pressure on there back. Like u said that u hate see people out walking there dogs with a collar and they are gasping well using a harness prevents this and is less stress on the dog.

18th September 2008, 09:33 PM
Hi! I prefer to use a harness as I hate to see dogs being strangled by their collars! However the reason people are told not to use a harness is mainly because it encourages pulling. If your trying to train your dog to be good on the lead it is very very hard when using a harness as harnesses make pulling comfortable! That is why husky dogs wear harnesses!

18th September 2008, 09:37 PM
I don't know either why they'd say that. I was under the impression that harnesses were particularly recommended for cavaliers because of the likelihood of SM and also as a small dog it can place undue pressure on their windpipe.

We've only ever used harnesses, and we like the puppia ones a lot. They're lightly padded and seem comfortable. It spreads the weight nicely if they pull. (obviously you might not want to encourage that but...)

Are you allowed to use a harness in the show ring? If not maybe that's why they recommend a collar and lead.

18th September 2008, 09:38 PM
I always use a harness. It causes much less pressure on their little necks, especially if you have a dog that pulls. Dont know why the club said to use a collar over a harness :confused:

18th September 2008, 09:50 PM
I've also only used a harness on my two. I couldn't stand them pulling with a collar on, Gabby tends to pull, although Jasper is pretty good but I still wouldn't use a collar on him.

18th September 2008, 10:08 PM
Maybe it is a misprint and they transposed the words? :confused:

It doesn't really make any sense to me and I also have only ever used a harness for Lucky. Besides the SM issue and our Cavalier's sensitive necks, it's also just much safer and harder for them to slip out of a harness vs. a collar.

18th September 2008, 10:13 PM
We just got Amber (6 months) a harness this week. She was only 100 yards or so from the pet shop when she snapped her collar pulling on the lead. The harness is much safer and is soft and comfy for her. We did find it harder to make her walk to heel though, so will continue practicing with that.

18th September 2008, 10:20 PM
Glad to see that I haven't gone mad, then! :D If we do end up with a Cavelier, then we'll definitely be using a harness. 'Ella's harness has been an absolute godsend, as she has a long neck and delicate head, so she is often found around the house without her collar, having pulled it off when scratching with a hind leg! We have an ID tag on her collar and one on the harness, should she ever get away from us when walking off lead and manage to lose one or the other. In the event that she does get both the harness and the collar off, she's microchipped as a backup!

Will have to have a search for the Puppia harnesses. I've not heard of those before.

18th September 2008, 10:48 PM
On collars discouraging pulling:

How many dogs do people see regularly throttling themselves by pulling on the lead, on a collar? :lol: Lots!

Dogs that like to pull, pull. Using a collar is known to cause tracheal and vertebral damage. The risk of a collapsed trachea is greater with toy dogs. My vets always advise using harnesses on small breeds for that reason and also that if the dog is threatened by a larger dog it is very easy to grab the harness and lift the dog out of the way.

Some neurologists feel using a collar on cavaliers may be risky and certainly it can be very uncomfortable -- most SM dogs will scratch on collars and do better on harnesses (for a few, a collar may be more comfortable but personally I'd not use one anyway; I'd use a jacket harness or alternative harness like a front clip).

My favourite harnesses for pullers are the Sense-ible or Easy-walk. I use these on my two pullers and normal harnesses on my two non-pullers.

I have no idea why the club makes that bizarre recommendation. I saw that a few years ago and all I could think of is that it fits with people who like to do 'corrective' training with leash jerks. I wouldn't do that type of training either, especially not with a cavalier.

Alarming facts from a recent survey :

63% of the dogs examined had neck and spinal injuries.
78% of the dogs with aggression or over activity problems had neck and spinal injuries.
Of the dogs with neck injuries, 91% had experienced hard jerks on a leash or had strained against their leashes.
The study concludes that leash corrections, the dog forging ahead or a tethered pet hitting the end of a solid line may inflict spinal injury.

Excerpts from the above mentioned survey:
“During 1992 several Chiropractors, my students and I conducted a study of 400 dogs from different dog clubs in Sweden. Dog owners were offered a free examination of their dog by a chiropractor in return for their voluntary participation.
Those who volunteered to participate in the study had mostly ordinary dogs, in that owners presented them to us without any suspicion of spinal anomalies…Canine back problems are common. The result of our study showed that the chiropractors found back anomalies in 63% of the 400 dogs…dogs that “acted out” in other words, that exhibited over activity and aggression, 78% had spinal anomalies. Spinal anomalies seem to constitute an irritation that often results in stress reactions, aggression or fear. This is also in accordance with my own and my students’ experience with problematic dogs... In our study there were some factors that correlated with spinal anomalies. These were:

Pulling on leash (see explanation below).
Limping during adolescence.
Pulling on leash:
Of those dogs that had cervical (neck) anomalies, 91% (!) had been exposed to harsh jerks on the leash, or they had a long history of pulling or straining at the end of a leash. There is a risk of "whip-lash" from jerking the leash that probably increases if the dog wears a choke chain. Choke chains are constructed such that pulling it results in pressure distributed around the dog's neck, but the muscles that absorb the pressure are situated mostly at the sides of the neck. The neck and throat are almost unprotected.
Choke chains can be dangerous. For many years I and others have criticized the use of choke chains and training methods that use jerking and pulling on a leash as a means of controlling behavior. Unfortunately, most dog trainers use just this technique. There is probably a relationship between the force of the jerk and the risk of injury. I believe dog owners should be warned that chaining a dog to anything firm, that isn't elastic, without surveillance may increase the risk of a spinal injury. A dog can easily forget the boundaries of the chain or rope, accelerate, and suddenly come to a halt, with all the stopping power concentrated around the dog's neck.

Hallgren , “Animal Behavior Consultants Newsletter” July, 1992, V.9 No.2.


PS I have their triple walker lead, which is great!

18th September 2008, 11:28 PM
I use a harness with Ollie and a collar with Casey. Casey refuses to walk if a harness is on her, but she is not a puller and never has been. I've tried and she just sits and will not budge. Ollie is a puller and I have to keep a harness on him or he will strangle himself. On walks, I use a training harness which helps the pulling immensely! For all other times, I use the Puppia harness.

19th September 2008, 12:30 AM
Possibly the Club are recommending collars as part of their campaign(!) to make SM seem less of an issue in the breed.

Holly was walked on a collar and lead until she was two (and I found this site..). She has always hated puppias but really likes the Easy Walk, so that's what she uses. Amber loves puppias - any puppias, but she's especially keen on the over-the-head kind and she has always been walked in them after a scare with the Easy Walk when she managed to slip out of it. In a busy car park. That was scary...

Jan Bell
19th September 2008, 08:58 AM
Both my Toby and Rufus walk on harnesses and always have. Can't say I have faith in anything the CKCS club say after recent events.

19th September 2008, 09:54 AM
Every single one of my dogs is walked on a harness - big and small. I honestly can't control one of my dogs without a harness; she is so strong and when she wants to get to something (e.g. another dog) there is no stopping her if she is on a collar. At lease with a harness I can drap her around the place (sounds worse that it is!) and I have much more control.

I use harnesses on the rest of the dogs for the saame reason; they don't strangle themselves when they walk and they are far easier to control. As Karlin said, you can very easily pick up the dog, and/or direct it where you want it to go.

As far as I know, you must use a collar when showing - ususally placed high up behind the ears (to make the dog walk with the head up and creating "more desirable" lines)

19th September 2008, 10:21 AM
over-the-head kind and she has always been walked in them after a scare with the Easy Walk when she managed to slip out of it. In a busy car park. That was scary...

One of our cavaliers slipped her collar at a sheep herding show in Scotland. Before we could catch her she ran out into the field after the sheep and tried to herd them with the border collie. Was very embarassing with all the spectators watching.

We always use a harness, there has been times when being able to lift the dog up quickly using the harness has saved them from getting attacked by aggressive dogs.

21st September 2008, 02:31 AM
I found this site before I brought Maverick home so he's always had a harness. I'm currently waiting for a puppia step in to arrive. I have the classic style puppia and a simple nylon web step in. I find the step in faster to get into.

One of the biggest reason I love the harnesses is Maverick has a high hunting drive and will take off once in a great while with out me noticing to call him off and I can't imagine what that would do to his neck when he hits the end of the lead.

21st September 2008, 11:33 AM
Apparently the only breed they recommend that wears a harness while still a pup is a cavalier. A friend was told when she went to buy a harness for her lab puppy that until a dog is fully grown, unless it is a cavalier, that it is bad for them. Dont know if she was gave the right advise.