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Part of EdDx Educational Series
Stop choking your dog!
Use a Harness Vest
Why is a harness vest better than a collar or a regular harness?
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Control and Make Your Dog Comfortable
with a Harness Vest
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall
How to get your dog to wear his/her harness vest
(this is a YouTube Vid)
Some pet owners like to dress-up their pets to make them more fashionable. Some just use a collar to control their pet when going on a walk, while others use a collar to display a pet license/rabies or owner tags. If your dog could talk, s/he would probably ask you to take off that collar that is irritating and medically unwise.
How about a nice soft cloth collar or a cloth harness? No, the texture isn’t the only the problematic part! Some toy dogs, like Yorkies, have a very delicate trachea (windpipe). Tracheal collapse is caused by a progressive weakening of the tracheal rings, and might be aggravated by a collar. Tracheal collapse may affect other breeds.
How about just for training, a little pull here and there? Putting a collar on a Yorkie or certain other breeds, even for training, isn’t a good idea. Try a harness vest. As a matter of fact, it makes sense to use a well-fitted harness vest on any dog rather than a collar. Of course, this is only my opinion. I know, there are some trainers that may say “this is the only way to maintain control, especially with a big dog." Toy dogs aren't that big, even if you believe in this philosophy.
Some conventional harnesses can be just as bad as a collar because of the strap around the neckline. Try to find a harness vest that is wide, comfortable and safe. Harness vest are designed to allow the dog to push with the chest rather than the throat, and a properly fitted harness helps relieve pressure from the dog’s sensitive trachea by distributing the pressure more evenly. Just like a collar or regular harness, it can be easily removed whenever you want, like right after that morning walk!
Some owners don't like any restrictions or binders on their pet, so they only use the vest when going for a walk or trip. When you think about it, humans take off their neck ties and other restrictive garments when they get home or want to relax...it's natural. Take the vest off after a walk or trip and let the dog relax and feel natural. Your pets will be anxious to put it on again because they associate it with going out!
Harness vests come in many different materials and designs, e.g., thin stretchy warm weather material, cold weather material, plain, fancy. Make sure it fits your pet comfortably. I see some ads showing dogs with harness vest about one size too small (fastened too tightly)! You don't want the dog to "escape" from a "too loose" harness vest, but crushing the dog's chest and irritating the under arm area is one of the things you are trying to avoid.
Ask your veterinarian about a harness vest: Is it right for your dog, and how should it be fitted?