I’ve rescued a Staffie recently and the rescue centre I got her from recommended I walk her on a harness. I’ve only ever clipped leads on to the collars of my dogs before. What are the advantages of harnesses and how do I go about choosing a suitable one?

Kirsten Dillon advises…

There is now a huge movement away from walking dogs purely on a collar, especially those that are likely to apply any pressure whatsoever to their neck area. These days, collars are for ID and emergencies only. This has come in the wake of much research into the negative effects of collars on dogs’ tracheas, glands and vertebrae to mention but a few, so the rescue centre is right to suggest a harness.

One of the main downsides to a harness is that – from your end of the lead – it can facilitate pulling, which is why it is actually safer for a dog if you think about it. Patient, gentle training is the only way to stop any dog pulling, so if your girl does pull, seek out a local force free trainer who can work with you and your harness without stress or punishment.

The best harness around (as voted for by dog trainers worldwide) is the Perfect Fit. It’s a modular harness that is made to measure and can be adjusted to be extremely comfortable. Take a look at the website where you’ll find lots of information and then give them a call – www.dog-games.co.uk Whichever harness you decide on, make sure it does not sit too low across your Staffie’s chest. Not only will this impede her forward leg and shoulder movements, it will place pressure right at the strongest part of her body (her chest) and make it more difficult to teach loose lead walking.

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