Harness the Love: The Little Beagle Who Pulled

Emma used to be a nightmare to walk with, but not because she pulled. She was never in a hurry. In fact, it was just the opposite: she froze.

Sometimes she’d stop moving and stand cowering, making herself look as small as possible, with her tail tucked tightly underneath her. Other times she’d plop herself down on the pavement. Gradually over our first year with Ems, though, she gained confidence and was able to walk with us with only minimal freezing.

Then we moved out to the ‘burbs and also switched Emma to a back-clip harness. Suddenly she would sprint ahead like Hubz does when the Ethiopian food truck parks near his office and he has a meeting in ten. At first I was actually pleased. I mean, this girl took two hours to walk four blocks her first week with us, because she would take one or two tentative steps and then freeze and freeze and freeze.

Suddenly Emma was not just NOT freezing, she was flying. At least she’s giving me SOME behavior, I’d think.

And that’s where we had been for the last year. With some loose-leash-walking training we had the pulling largely under control, but this summer it got out of hand again. We have deer and bunnies and coyotes and cats trotting all around the woods beyond our house and a stinky pond right next door. Once Emma would walk out the front door, she’d shotgun into Nature for major sniffies.

Then The Academy for Dog Trainers announced its Harness the Love campaign to promote front-clip harnesses, which turn the dog around away from the direction he wants to go when he pulls. I was told that dogs learn pretty quickly from this that pulling is counterproductive, so he stops doing it.

I gave it a try. I put Ems in a Sense-ation Harness, and suddenly… No. Pulling. At. All.

Emma had worn one for a while when we first adopted her, but she was too scared to sprint ahead like Hubz when he’s running late to Bryce Harper Bobblehead Night at Nationals Park. So we never had the opportunity to experience the magic of these brilliant devices.

But now that Emma is the bouncy, confident woman we’ve all grown to love, we’ve seen some seriously annoying pulling come from her. Seriously annoying. Until we put the front-clip harness on her. I’m here to tell you that THIS SH*T WORKS! If your dog pulls on the leash, please try one.

Here are some brands to check out:

Freedom No-Pull Harness
Easy Walk Harness
Sense-ation Harness

And here’s a WONDERFUL blog post from Tails in the Valley Dog Training on how to put a front-clip harness on your dog.

I’ll come clean: Our harness journey is still a work-in-progress, because Emma seems to fall in-between sizes. I’m told that for dogs with broad chests (as is the case with Emma), you can turn the Easy Walk Harness upside down to fit them. That’s next on my to-do list.

But even though the harness hasn’t fit Emma perfectly yet, the pulling has completely stopped. My advice? Run like Hubz does when he’s stealing home plate in his adult baseball league and go buy a front-clip harness. You will thank me.






3 comments on “Harness the Love: The Little Beagle Who Pulled

  1. I tried ‘front clip’ harness with a remarkable lack of success. First of all Pearl (German Shepherd) crabbed, until she discovered that she could straddle the leash and pull to her hearts content 🙂
    I far and away prefer the H-style harness and a clip over the back.
    However Mad Millie, the Speagle, took to straddling her lead (attached to collar) So I put her in a back attach harness — and she worked out in a very short time, how to straddle that, too! 🙁

      • I’ve tried head halters — but don’t like them. The only the GL seems OK, but I prefer the (original) black dog head halter. However I NEVER recommend their use alone. They should be paired with a collar — and either two leashed of a double-ended leash. Adjust how you hold the leash(es) so that, IF the dog goes to pull, the leash to the collar with tighten first. Do NOT wait for this leash though to be tight. As soon as you see the leash clip attached to the collar pulled for the free swinging under the dogs chin, GENTLTY pull the leash attached to the head halter to draw your dog’s head to turn towards you . Then call and praise the dog or simply wait for the dog to return to you before your praise and then go on with your walk.
        NO need for food treats — the reinforcement is continuing the walk.

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