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The gear that we use for our dogs to go on walks with us is some of the most essential gear. This includes collars, harnesses and leashes. No matter if we’re walking around the neighborhood to potty or taking a long adventure hike, the gear that we use is important. It should be durable, well-made and comfortable.
It’s disappointing that, despite the importance of this gear, many of the items sold by national pet supply chains are of poor quality or uninspired. Our experience has shown that independent pet supply shops, dog-sport catalogues, or online shops are the best places to find well-made, innovative dog gear. If you’re not immersed in dog culture, you won’t find the best dog products unless you go to dog shows or dog sports events where manufacturers have booths.
We can help! We share information on products we love so that you don’t waste money buying junky items found at most chain stores.
Best flat Collars
We don’t like frills. The flat collar is our favorite way to attach a leash. Front-clip harnesses are great for training (and we will give you some recommendations below), but they cannot be worn all the time. This means that a collar is still needed to attach ID tags.
We look for a number of qualities in a dog collar, including strength, quality stitching and material (especially buckles and rings), comfort (soft to reduce chafing) and ease of adjustability.
We prefer collars that have “quick release” buckles. The old-fashioned pin-buckle (also known as a watch-buckle, a tang-buckle, or a mouth-buckle) is difficult to remove in an emergency. For example, when the collar of a dog becomes caught and strangled. Owners of large or strong breeds prefer collars that have metal pin buckles because they are almost impossible to separate even under extreme pressure.
These are our top flat collar suppliers:
Earthdog. The hemp collars are washable, comfortable, and attractive. They get softer after each washing. Four sizes to fit necks from 7″ up to 26 ”.>
Ruffwear. The company offers a variety of collars. We like the Flat Out Collar because it has a small, separate ring to hold your dog’s ID tags and a large aluminum V-shaped ring. It’s also easy to snap on a leash. White Pine Outfitters. Three sizes for dogs with necks ranging from 11″ to 26″. Soft flat nylon collars available in different widths. From 1/2′” (for small dogs with necks between 6” and 16′”) to 1′” for dogs with necks between 12’’ to 30’’.
Some types of collars are very useful for training or walking certain dogs. Here are some of our favorites:
Break-away collars. They are great for dogs that like to grab the neck. The Keep-Safe Breakaway Collar is a great option. It can be left on the dog when you’re not there, and then used as a normal walking collar by attaching a leash to two rings. This will override the breakaway function. Martingale collars or “limited slip” collars are designed to prevent dogs who know how to back out (slip off) of their collars. They are useful for dogs with necks that are larger than their heads, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, and for dogs who have very thin heads.
Check out 2 Hounds Design for a wide selection of collars in different widths, materials and patterns. They claim to have 248 martingale styles, and all of them are beautiful and well made.
Old-school trainers used to insist on leather leashes because they were softer for the hands.
Even though we no longer pull on the leash as much, some dogs still do. There are now some wonderful soft nylon and hemp leads available, as well as some Biothane leashes that grip wonderfully.
Six feet is our recommendation for a leash that’s appropriate for most activities. It gives your dog enough “freedom to roam” but still allows you to keep him safe.
Earthdog. J&J Dog Supply. Leather leashes in 6 widths: 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, and longer. The 6′ Oiled Leash is our favorite (in only one width, 5/8 “).>
Trailblazing Tails’ Signature Oiled Leather Leash is a strong, supple leather leash. Our favorite manufacturer of Biothane Leashes. The leashes are available in 5/8″ or 1/2″ widths, and any length. All of their products are great, but the buttery soft “Premium”, which is available in flat or bumpy styles, is especially easy on your hands.
Long Lines Best Buy
You can keep a light or long line in your toolbox for when you need to give your dog some freedom, but aren’t ready to let them off the leash. We don’t like retractables at all!
Light lines are thin cords. We’d only use them for small dogs. Long lines can be as long as 60 feet and are usually slightly narrower. These extra-long “leashes”, allow dogs to exercise in a large open field without the risk of a high-speed pursuit (and high-stakes) after a dog that just spotted an animal like a cat or turkey and cannot resist chasing it.
You can also use long lines to practice recalls at a distance. If you have your partner hold the line half way between you and the dog you want to recall, you will be able to double the distance.
Our favorite suppliers:
Genuine Dog Gear. Genuine Dog Gear is best known for its nylon collars. They also sell paracord light lines that are available in lengths of 10′, 20’, and 30’. These are best for small dogs. Trailblazing Tails. Our favorite Biothane gear maker offers 50-foot long lines in two different widths (1/2″ or 5/8″), and also comes with a choice of lengths. White Pine Outfitters. White Pine Outfitters uses soft, washable nylon with high-quality hardware to make their strong and silky long lines. Available in two widths, and lengths ranging from 10′ to fifty’.
White Pine Outfitters’ SoftWeb Long Line is silky, strong and won’t cause your hands to burn.
Try a Tab
Tabs are a short leash (4” to 6”), which can be attached to the collar of your dog at home, or even when they’re not on a leash. Tabs can be useful for dogs that don’t want their collars grabbed or for when you need a non-obtrusive handle for your dog. These are available to buy or you can cut an old leash into the right length. Our favorite:
White Pine Outfitters. White Pine Outfitters makes a 6-inch leather “heeling” tab with a small brass snap. The tab is very light because the leather is only 1/4″ thick.
We prefer that owners learn to train their dogs to not pull. However, we are also aware that an owner who does not feel confident in her control of the dog will avoid taking it on walks to be trained. Front-clip dog leashes are the most effective way for owners to reinforce polite leash-walking.
We prefer products with a yoke around the neck, rather than those where the straps cross the shoulder. Here are some of our favorites:
In.Line Harness Baumutt. This front clip harness has a unique feature. It features a front connection point which tightens if your dog pulls. The harness will also not slide out of place when the leash is pulled. This harness has a second D ring leash attachment at the back of its padded part.
The front connection ring of Baumutt’s In Line Harness will tighten the harness if your dog pulls very hard.
One more feature is designed to help owners of long-haired pets: the girth belt buckles are placed on the top of the backpad and are made of a plastic shield. This prevents the hair of your dog from becoming caught in the buckles while you’re trying to fasten it.
Balance Harness (Blue-9 pet products). This well-made, well-designed harness is a favorite. It has two large, nice rings for attachment (front and rear) and can be adjusted in six different places. The side-release buckle allows you to easily put the harness on your dog without having to pull over their head (some dogs hate or fear this). Five sizes are available, including one that fits dogs with girths of as little as 13.5 inches. Front Range Harness (Ruffwear). Front Range Harness (Ruffwear) is a well-made, attractive harness with double stitching and heavy-duty hardware. The harness has two points for attaching leashes (front and rear) and is adjustable in four places. The four harnesses that we mention here adjust less in each size than the other, so it is even more important to choose the correct size for your pet. This harness is available in three sections, two for small dogs. You can buy each section separately, so you can ensure a perfect fit, whether your dog is tall, short, thin or stocky. This harness has two large, nice rings for attachment (one on the front and the other on the back). It is lined in fleece. This is the link for the second of the three harness parts. Here is the link for the third.
If you’re a smart dog owner, you always carry treats. But if treats are kept in your pockets and then we forget to empty them before laying our clothes out, we could end up with jackets or pants that have their pockets chewed! Treat pouches are a better way to transport treats and won’t leave grease stains. Here are some of the features we look for when choosing a treat bag:
The amount of treats that you take on walks should be able to fit in a container large enough (if you are walking more than one pet, there is more space needed! ).
We prefer belted bags over clip-on bags because they tend to fall off. Easy to retrieve treats (can we get our hands inside quickly?
Terry Ryan Treat Pouch (Karen Pryor Clicker Training). The bag has a large pocket for treats and a smaller one (for keys, clickers, poopbags or a clicker). It also features a belt closure. But what we like most is the French spring clasp, which closes the main compartment with just a simple tap.
One caveat: Trainers find that the spring mechanism is susceptible to breaking under heavy use; it should last longer under lighter usage by the average owner. The spring mechanism can break under heavy use, but it will last longer if you use it less. Rapid Rewards Dog Training Pouches (Doggone Good). This pouch is designed with a large main compartment, several pockets and a magnetic clasp. It’s perfect for walking multiple dogs. Clips onto a belt, pants or waist. Also works with a waistbelt (sold separately). Price from jjdog.com is the best.
Clickers are now an essential part of any dog training equipment. They are simple, small devices that emit a discreet “clicking” sound. You can use them to “mark” a dog’s behavior by rewarding it with a food reward. The clicker can be used as a reward marker to allow for more precise training.
There are many options. When selecting a clicker, you should consider your own personal preferences for size, shape and comfort in your hands, as well as the type of clicker (button clicker or box clicker) and the sharpness of sound. Some dogs will benefit from a louder click, while others may startle at even a subtle click.
Chewy.com offers this four-pack button clickers with coil wristbands for $7.50.
We recommend buying several clickers to see which one your dog likes best. These are some great sources for these training tools.
Clickers at Chewy.com. Clickers from The Doggone Good Clicker Company. Doggone Good Clicker Company offers a variety of clickers, including box and button models; ovals or teardrops; solid or transparent models; in many colors. This unique tool allows you to adjust the volume of clicks for dogs who are sensitive to sound. The tool is widely available at around $8, including from Amazon.
Now Get Ready!
This is not a comprehensive list, but it will help you get started on your journey to becoming the well-prepared, fully-equipped dog owner you desire. You are the advocate for your dog, so choose high-quality and well-fitting gear to accompany your dog on their journey.
Whole Dog Journal: The Best Dog Walking Gear
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