Tag Archives: walking your dog

Put a leash on it!

It’s the simplest “tool” for training dogs. It doesn’t require much instruction, has few moving parts, and is one of the most basic dog essentials. And yet, multiple times this week we’ve witnessed people not using it. People! Put a leash on your dog!

Sitting in the shop, watching the world go by, we see a woman and her pre-teen child walking down the sidewalk, pulling a wagon. With a cute, little, fluffy white dog in the wagon. The dog jumps out and races across the street – with cars coming in both directions. The woman is shrieking through her mask for the dog, who’s wearing a harness (good!) but no leash (bad). Fortunately, both were fine and the dog corralled in just a few minutes.

Then there’s the neighborhood guy around the shop who insists on walking his dog without a leash. We’ll admit that our shop is on a side street, in our suburb’s downtown. It’s not the busiest street around – but it is in a very urban area. Our town borders Chicago and has about 60,000 residents. It’s not the middle of nowhere. So this fellow thinks his dog will stay with him. He’s wrong. Whenever we’ve been outside, the dog comes running up to us to say “hi!” It’s a nice dog. He should put a leash on it.  

What’s the attraction?

Frankly, we don’t understand the desire to walk a dog off leash. Maybe because we know our dogs, despite their obedience/rally/agility titles, would take off after any bunny stupid enough to cross our path. Or maybe it’s because we know that people drive crazy, even on residential streets. Maybe it’s because we’re control freaks. But we just don’t get it.

A few months ago there was a viral video featuring a man with his “pack” of German Shepherd Dogs walking around. They seemed to be on city streets and the dogs surrounded him and shadowed his every move. Not a leash in sight. Frankly, we found it creepy. None of the dogs looked happy. They all looked like they were slinking around, as if they’d been beaten. And yet we saw lots of comments exclaiming how “wonderfully” those dogs were behaving. We didn’t see it. We have a friend who has German Shepherd Dogs. Hers are marvelously well-trained, with titles in multiple dog sports, too. And her dogs walk joyously, tails waving, ears erect, eyes bright and interested. On leash. 

Not instead

A leash doesn’t replace training. Dogs still have to be taught to “walk nicely” with you. In fact, the “rule” for using a leash in Obedience and Rally competition is that it should form a “J” between the dog and person. There are deductions for “tight leash” handling. 

Picture of a man walking his dog on leash at a beach

We look at the leash as a security measure – for us and our dogs. No worries about where our dogs are or what they’re doing if we can’t see them. We can always find them. And when another dog comes charging up the path, no owner in sight, we can reel in our dogs, pick them up, and yell bloody murder until a responsible party shows up to take charge. 

Hope will never forget the time when, as a young woman living single in the city, she was walking her dogs (Dragon, a Brussels Griffon and Daemon, a Boston Terrier) down a city street and a big mongrel came running up. She was trying to pick up both her dogs (Dragon was barking away, Daemon wanted to play) and yelling “Who owns this dog? Loose dog! Get your dog!” A guy sauntered around the corner and had the gall to say “don’t worry, he’s friendly!” 

Really? Why does that matter? How do you know my dogs are “friendly?” And why does anyone believe that leash laws don’t apply to them?

Rant over

It’s such a simple thing. Hook up your dog. If you’re alone, in an unpopulated or no-traffic area, take it off if you want to. But please, don’t make me worry about your dog running out in front of cars. Don’t make me worry about getting sued when my dog takes objection to your dog running up on us. If you love your dog, put a leash on it.

Harness or collar? Which way to walk your dog

It seems to be puppy season! New puppy “parents” have been asking which is better for walking their little ones, harness or collar?

The answer is easy if it’s a smaller dog. Harness, all the way. Little and toy dogs are prone to “collapsing trachea,” caused by pressure on the dog’s throat. Pressure caused by dogs wearing collars pulling on lead. A small dog may not be strong enough to hurt you by pulling, but he can do damage to himself. Collapsing trachea causes coughing and gagging. Over time, it can even impact the dog’s ability to breathe and swallow. 

Collars are useful

Which is not to say that small dogs shouldn’t be accustomed to wearing collars. Having I.D. on the collar is certainly the fastest way to identify owners and get dogs back to them, should something unexpected occur. If your dog happens to get away, it’s faster when a good Samaritan finds him to call the number on the tag than go through the process of getting a microchip scanned, tracked, and contacted.

When our dogs are home, they’re usually naked. When we’re home and they’re running around the house and playing (with each other or with us), we don’t want to risk a collar or harness getting caught on anything. Same thing if we’re away. Our dogs are in their crates and naked. They’re comfortable there and we know they’re not going to chew on anything (like electrical cords) that could harm them.

The exception to the “naked at home” rule is when we’re expecting visitors, whether it’s family, friends, or some professional (plumber, electrician, delivery person, etc.) we’ve called. Just in case, the dogs are wearing their collars when we have people over. Someone could leave open a door, or a gate. Or it could blow open if not closed all the way. When you think about it, it’s true that every home has some quirks that you deal with, but no one else knows about. Like our screen door that doesn’t latch if the wind is blowing from a particular direction. No delivery person would know that. 

No “everybody” harness

There’s no single harness that’s “the best” for every dog. There are so many different designs and styles that it can be confusing. But there is a best harness for every dog.

styles of dog harnesses

Figuring out which harness is right means you have to think about how you and your dog walk together. Does either one of you have physical limitations? That could mean anything from the “tripod” dog we fit a while ago, to having issues opening the hard, plastic clasps many harnesses feature.  

Other considerations: does your dog resist the harness? Or hate having things go over her head? How is he with someone touching his feet? Does she try to back out? 

Your answers will decide the kind of harness that’s right for you and your dog.

In and out of style

There are three basic types of harnesses: vest style, step-in, and standard. Each has its advantages and best uses. We’ve developed separate sub-sections in our shop to address each of the three. We also have sections for “hook and loop” style harnesses. We don’t use the trade name, for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that when we offer an extra “Velcro” strip for use with the Wrap-N-Go, you will be getting actual Velcro material.

Over the years we’ve developed harness expertise, and we’re happy to share what we know. If you’re not sure which harness is ideal for you and your dog, please contact us! We’re more than happy to make individualized recommendations when you fill out and submit our “Harness Selector Questionnaire.”

French Bulldog wearing no-pull harness

It is possible for the “best” harness for your dog to change over time. For example, a few years ago the “no-pull” harness with the leash ring in the front was introduced. For a while, it became all the rage. Then we started hearing reports about dogs having shoulder and/or elbow issues after using them. There’s a different design for “no-pull” harnesses now – attaching the leash at the side to minimize stress on the dog’s joints, while achieving the same effect. It’s relatively new, but we’re liking what we’re seeing so far. 


If you’re not sure what to do – please ask! We want you and your dog to enjoy your walks together. We’re easy to reach and happy to help!