These days the market for dog equipment and accessories is absolutely huge.
It’s easy to spend a small fortune on our dogs to make sure they look great and we feel good as we are splashing our cash on our fur babies like a parent would on a child.
And that is all fine and good, but we really need to buying equipment for our dogs that actually benefits THEM, not us.
Social media is constantly bombarding us with the latest this or that in terms of dog equipment so it is really important that we as responsible owners really take the time to check it out and actually make sure that it is beneficial.
Sadly, we sometimes see today’s equipment that should never ever have been made and let alone promoted by a celebrity or someone who is a “Joe Unknown: Professional Dog Trainer”.
The advent of force-free training equipment has highlighted lots of issues around what types of dog equipment can be harmful or detrimental for your dog and although they boast of quick fixes to suit the owner, they can surely be also affecting the dog in a negative way and affecting their quality of life.
After owning Greyhounds for over 20 years now, I have spent my fair share on equipment for them and not all of it has been either good or beneficial for my dogs.
You live and learn and it is important to remember that we all make mistakes when buying gear and we can easily be influenced by TV, infomercials, magazines, and the huge amount of celebrity TV dog trainers that sport successful online marketing campaigns.
What equipment do you need for a dog?
We need to find the very best equipment for our dogs that gives them the absolute best benefits.
You really owe to your dogs to get them the best depending on their breed.
The biggest problem I have seen is that the marketplace can sometimes have a “one-size fits all” approach to dog equipment, be it for training or recreational purposes.
You could argue that overall this simplistic approach has very little in the way of downsides for both dog and dog owner, but is that really true?
I have seen Jack Russell’s with extremely sharp teeth chew through the extended retractable dog leads when they have been 15 feet away from their owner, to run off and worse still, attack another dog.
I have seen dogs with inadequate collars break free and run into traffic and I have seen plenty of short-haired dogs shivering when a simple fitting and low-cost dog coat would have made their walks so much more enjoyable.
We always have to remember that it is we who are driving the show and we need to make good and excellent choices based on research that we must do.
Now, I know that for some folk the word research can be daunting but it really is quite straightforward and thankfully there are plenty of correctly qualified experts that can help you with this kind of task.
Taking a dog into your life should be a wonderful experience and one that with time can be extremely rewarding and your knowledge will grow as a result of it.
What I aim to outline here is a foolproof guide to making sure you get the best equipment that your dog NEEDS and as a result it will make your time together so much better.
There is a long history of equipment that you can buy for your dog and in recent years through the promoted world of social media, we have seen many so-called groundbreaking tools and ways to exercise and train your dog come on to the market.
The fact is, there is nothing really very new or unique about these products and they are usually just a way to help part you with your cash as advertisers know that dog owners like to spend on their “fur babies”
They know that the generation of dog owners of today tend to have a bit more disposable income in order to follow this trend.
As owners, we have to be mindful that what we buy benefits our dogs.
Christmas has become a perfect example of a time where dogs are now showered with gifts like brightly colored toys, jumpers, and foods that have been specifically designed by marketing companies for owners to open their wallets and purses and part with their cash.
Dog’s really don’t want to wear a jumper or indeed have a “bling-bling” collar and they certainly don’t get any benefit from brightly colored toys especially when the only two colors they see clearly are yellow and blue!
What kind of collar is best for my dog?
Collars for dogs have been pretty much in use for around 2000 years and were exclusively used as methods of control in the beginning.
They were generally worn by dogs as a status symbol of the person who owned that dog. They were often decorated with precious stones or they were spiked and studded to provide any additional protection from other predators or rival dogs.
There have been man cave paintings and ancient engravings on stone depicting dogs that wore prestigious collars back in time.
As time progressed, so did the nature of the dog collar too and they became objects of control and although the dog would be integrated into a human family much more, the nature of the control method could be quite brutal.
Over time the equipment used was of a more sinister nature and collars could be quite painful for a dog to wear if they pulled or didn’t do as the owner required.
Choke collars or choke chains as they are often called still exist today sadly, and it’s these kinds of negative products you always want to avoid if you want the best out of your dog.
As time progresses, more sinister types of dog training and equipment evolved.
One of which was leashes that doubled as whips and these were actually promoted for sale in catalogs as an effective way to train your dog to obey you.
The only thing this kind of treatment does to a dog is to make it scared or very aggressive. It certainly would never build a strong bond.
Yet people thought this was a good idea!
Choke chains were introduced as a quick fix to stop pulling dogs by essentially choking then to stop pulling….again, horrible and totally unnecessary in terms of training and bond-building.
Actually, when you think about it, many of us look at our dogs as members of our family or our babies…would you really ever consider choking someone you loved to get them to do what you want?
Sadly, these kinds of things are still available but as decent and kind and honest dog owners we would never ever consider things like that.
We have to make good choices and avoid the quick fixes offered to us by the online world and also of that that can be sold by the big pet chains in store.
A lot of equipment you can buy in the larger pet stores has a one size fits all approach and this is where the problems can start.
The is especially important for new dog owners to understand as they really are at the mercy of the stores and can be sold a whole variety of products that are totally wrong for the particular breed of dog that they now have.
Now, I am not saying this is always the case as I have had excellent service in my local Pets At Home store here in Cornwall.
But, it can happen and get it wrong at this early stage and it can have a profound effect on the wellbeing and health of your dog and also it could result in your dog running off by slipping a poorly attached or totally inadequate collar or lead.
We really don’t want that to happen.
Many new owners will buy an extendable lead for their dogs.
In my personal opinion, I think this is a huge mistake.
I don’t like these leads at all and here is why:
You simply can not control a dog if he is 15 to 20 feet away from you!
I have seen a dog that was hyper-aggressive easily chew through and snap the elastic lead and make for attacking another dog.
Now, that is my experience and I don’t think that is a rare occurrence either.
Add to the fact that it’s never a good start to have your dog walking so far ahead of you when you are starting out on teaching them to be by your side!
Dogs get distracted easily and can bolt and this can cause problems, especially for the health of the dog, being yanked back or the owner pulled over.
A fast breed can easily get into their running pace within 6 strides ( Greyhounds have explosive pace) and this would be a recipe for catastrophic disaster…I am not joking either as I have seen people walking a Grey or a Whippet with one of those leads attached.
The length of the lead really matters.
Shorter leads of up to 4 feet long are not dangerous in so far as being in control of your dog, but they are restrictive.
It’s important for your dog to have freedom when you are out on your daily walks and with that in mind, I would always advise on a 6-foot length.
This is a happy balance of safety control for you and your dog whilst allowing them the freedom to sniff and walk casually at your side.
This length is sometimes hard to come by in regular stores as they really like to push the retractable version and it is usually a lot pricier.
A lead like this one I use is absolutely perfect and relatively cheap too:
It’s hard wearing and, extremely strong. Another added bonus.
You need, to feel comfortable when walking your dog and I have always, felt that this, type of lead would never let me, down and it never has.
Dogs pull. It’s what they do. With that in mind, it is, essential that you always, make sure that your dog has an appropriate collar for their breed.
Again with this, research us needed because, a dog has an extremely sensitive neck, like our own.
As we know, our dogs are great lungers and it takes very little for them to cause harm to themselves when doing this particular activity at any passing Cat, Squirrel, or another dog.
Within the dogs, the neck is the lymph nodes, ducts, the thymus organ, the hyoid bone, the trachea, cervical vertebrae, and spinal cord.
Damage done to these by an inadequate collar can obviously be absolutely catastrophic so we need to always be mindful of our choices here.
A strong and powerful dog needs ab equally reliable and comfortable collar to wear.
As I am a Greyhound owner, my dog has a very particular physical trait that requires special collars as you can see here: It’s much wider to protect the neck.
With your dog, it is vital to make, sure, that the collar you choose is specifically designed to provide your dog with the right comfort and protection too.
Damage caused by a bad, collar can include damage to the larynx, esophagus, multiple nerves, arteries, and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves.
If these areas get serious damage there is often the very little possibility of them repairing themselves and functioning as they did before.
The damage can be permanent.
There are so many injuries that can occur and the effects of poor collar selection are all too common.
This is why you should always research your choices when it comes to any equipment, not just collars or leads.
As we have now learned that these poor choices can cause real issues for our dogs and us, it does not take a lot to imagine the kinds of pain and injuries choke chains, pronged collars or electric collars can cause our dogs, does it?
It would be very comforting to think in this day and age that most professionals involved with dogs and dog training would shy away from outdated punishment-based techniques, but sadly some still use these types of equipment to stop excessive barking, pulling, and chasing livestock.
These methods not only have the potential to injure our dogs but also the psychological effects on their wellbeing can make the dog fearful and far more anxious too.
There really is no quick fix to training. Training has to allow being positive and fun for a dog to really learn and want to grow in terms of confidence.
Punishment based training really sucks, so please don’t indulge in this and in poor quality equipment too.
Headcollars are really horrible!
There are several different kinds on the market these days and as soon as you put one on a dog one of two things will happen(or both):
The dog usually becomes subdued and secondly, they will try to paw it off.
Now let me say this, as a Greyhound owner I have used a muzzle which has a similar effect on my boy, but that is a safeguarding issue for me.
I walk my dog in rural areas and he is never off the lead, but if his collar did fail and he bolted, I know he could not harm any cats, other small furry dogs, or livestock.
A headcollar for a dog is uncomfortable as it lays over sensitive structures of a dog’s nose that it needs to use to make sense of its environment.
The idea of headcollars comes as a cross over from the equine world where they are perfectly fine for a Horse as they have a completely different head structure.
Horses have much longer heads and much stronger necks “pound for pound” too.
Dog’s would generally prefer to be rubbed under their chins when petted as opposed to the globally accepted patting of a dog on its head.
You may see dogs with shorter faces wearing a headcollar and you will see the straps going under the dog’s eyes and this causes pressure again, on sensitive areas of the face.
Wearing one of these for a dog can be painful when they are being walked and you can often see a dog with its face on one side because they are trying to alleviate some of the pain pressure, whilst the person walking the dog is completely unaware of anything being wrong.
Dog’s can’t tell us when they are uncomfortable!
People who use these kinds of headcollars think they are correcting poor behavior by making their dogs wear one, but in actual fact, all they are doing is actually suppressing the behavior and creating inhibition, rather than solving a problem.
Golden Rule is always positive reinforcement is 100% the best way to go!
So, with all of the knowledge, you have gained from this you need to know what is the absolute best kind of product on the market that your dog needs to be wearing to really enjoy their walks safely.
The Dog Harness.
Many people are under the misconception that harnesses encourage your dog to pull. They really don’t.
All dogs are not Huskies!
There has been a huge amount of research done on this subject and from my experience when I put a harness on my dog it really makes him calm in a very positive way.
The good ones are robust and they also look really great too as you can now see that there is little to no pressure being applied to your dog’s neck when you are walking them.
Dogs need to understand their environment and not feel that they can’t sniff and the smell is a great way for them to enjoy their walks without fear of being on a too short a lead or one that is too long.
A decent quality 6 foot (1.8m) lead attached to the back of a good harness is a perfect match that offers safe physical support for your dog and peace of mind safe control of your walks for you.
When I first used a harness on my Greyhound, his walk with me was a much happier affair as he really seemed to enjoy the feeling that got from lead pulling on his back rather than on his long sensitive neck and I am sure you find the same with your dog too.
It’s all about balance really.
The relief your dog gets in terms of pressure off of their necks is obvious.
Think of it like this:
If you put some groceries in a rucksack and then threw that rucksack around your neck instead of your shoulders, how do you think that would feel?
Pretty uncomfortable right? Yet, poor quality and inadequate collars and leads do exactly that to your dogs neck and you do see and hear them straining when walking as a regular thing!
A well-fitted harness needs the following elements in order for it to be right for your dog:
- It needs to be of a “Y shaped design”.
- It needs to go along diagonally the entire chest area of your dog and rests on the sternum (the strongest area of the chest)
- It needs to have attachment areas on both sides of the body to provide equal weight distribution.
- It’s comfortable for your dog with obvious signs that no hair or fur is being pulled or restricted and there is free leg movement (no chaffing)
The most important thing is that your dog can move freely in the harness and that provides the kind of safety you both need when out walking.
These harnesses are extremely well thought of and do exactly what you need them to do in terms of comfort, safety, and control for your dog.
Buying dog equipment can be a minefield and we can all make mistakes, but it is important to try to get things right as early as possible as this will really make a huge difference to your enjoyment of having a dog and in turn, their pleasure and comfort when out and about.
Think safety and comfort as your buy words and you won’t go far wrong.
This great video will help you with more information about harnesses and what to look for and think about buying.