There is a common mistake many people make when walking their dogs. They are using the wrong equipment for their dog. 

Walking equipment should support you, your dog and your training. It is not to replace training and it can definitely make your walk more challenging than it needs to be if used incorrectly or by using the wrong tool for the job.

In my view, there are two reasons why we use specialised equipment when walking a dog.

1. safety
2. communication

For everything else, there’s training.

If the equipment you are using doesn’t give you the confidence that you can manage your dog, control any lunging or pulling or stop your dog from doing something they shouldn’t, then it is not the right equipment for you.

If your dog can drag you along, then it’s not the right equipment for you.

If you are not easily able to communicate to your dog using the equipment, then it’s not the right equipment for you.

Safety

Let’s start with the obvious. Having your dog tethered to you with a leash will prevent your dog from running off and getting into trouble. Provided you hold on to the lead of course.

When you have your dog on a lead you can control where they go and how close they get to things (like other dogs, children, cats or pieces of food left at the park). The walking equipment should also help you manage a dog that jumps or lunges and should be suitable for the size and strength of the dog.

And you should also consider the comfort and suitability of the equipment for the dog. If the equipment doesn’t fit correctly then it is not safe. If the equipment is causing discomfort, pain or injury it is not safe. If the equipment is not suitable for the size and strength of the dog it is not safe.

The equipment should also give you CONFIDENCE in your handling, that you can control your dog and manage their behaviour.

Communication

Communication is key when taking your dog out into the world. This is how you let them know when they are doing what you want and when they are doing something you want them to stop.

One of the ways we communicate with our dogs when walking is with lead pressure. Any dog who pulls is using lead pressure. They are applying pressure to the lead and collar system in order to move forward.

Some pieces of equipment make applying lead pressure easier for either the human or dog and some equipment makes it more difficult. Some equipment allows you to communicate effectively and with less force than others.

Using lead pressure and the absence of lead pressure is an effective way to communicate with your dog and for them to communicate with you. The ideal equipment combination makes communication easy and with the least amount of pressure.

What equipment should you use?

I’m sorry to say that there is no single answer here. There is no one piece of magical equipment that will work for every dog in every situation.

I use and recommend a variety of different walking options depending on the needs of both the dog and the human.

Over the next few weeks, I will outline some of my most recommended pieces of equipment and the reasons why they are suitable for certain dogs and situations.

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