Since she first joined our family, Maggie has been a puller. As a rescue, she seems to always be in a hurry to get somewhere and it’s often somewhere she shouldn’t be. As she grew into her full, leggy 65-70 pounds, this became a problem too great for the control ability of a standard dog collar and leash. It wasn’t long before we purchased her first no-pull harness.
This first harness was designed for dogs to step into it. The leash connected to a ring on her back, just behind her shoulders. When she pulled, the ring would tighten two straps that ran behind and under her front legs thus applying pressure to her chest, encouraging her to not pull. It was basically giving her feedback that pulling was something she shouldn’t be doing. This harness worked well for a while but over time Maggie learned to ignore this negative feedback and would continue pulling using her full strength. Walking her through a complex environment became stressful for her and me.
With the onset of Maggie’s anxiety disorder she began to react strongly and sometimes aggressively toward other dogs when she was on the leash. Maggie is powerful, stubborn and determined. Not an easy combination to manage on a walk. She pulled so often and so strongly that Bonnie could not walk her even when using the no-pull harness.
Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of Internet searches these days for Maggie. One such search led me to a totally different design of harness and philosophy for preventing dogs from pulling…the Walk Your Dog With Love (WYDWL) harness which Maggie is modeling in the above picture. There is only one strap which goes around, under and behind her front legs. Then a single strap attaches above her shoulders to this body band that loops to the front of her chest. It is this front chest strap which has the ring attachment point for a leash.
Putting the WYDWL harness on Maggie was very simple. The harness goes over her head with the label on the outside and the ring to the front. Then the strap goes behind her front legs and clicks into the buckle on the other side…no stepping into required. Even Maggie seems to appreciate that.
I was a bit skeptical when I placed an order for this harness. It looks like a little bit of nothing and knowing the power of Maggie I had my doubts it could control her. Boy was I wrong. The results have been remarkable. With the leash attachment being in front, the harness provides positive guidance of where we want her to go and it has changed her reaction entirely — no pulling! She also seems calmer and if she starts to relapse into an aggressive stance towards another dog it’s just a matter of a small tug to turn her aside and regain her attention. It works so well we’ve ordered a second harness to keep in the truck as a back-up.
What use to be an apprehensive experience for me, walking Maggie around an RV Park, has now become something I enjoy again. I’m less stressed which I’m sure is making her less stressed.