So, you've decided to switch to a harness for your sighthound but have noticed an increase in pulling behavior. You've come to the right place. By the end of this post, you'll have concrete ideas to improve your sighthound's leash manners while using a harness.
Do sighthounds pull more on a harness?
There isn’t a definitive answer to this questions, opinions vary.
It’s hard to argue that pulling in a harness isn’t more comfortable, but should we use physical discomfort to control our dog’s behaviour? Probably not. We want safe, comfortable and happy hounds, and there are a multitude of options to achieve that whilst still getting the benefits of using a harness.
Some argue that collars offer more control since you can guide the head to change your dog's direction when they start pulling. This is a valid point, but I personally still prefer to use a harness for the comfort and safety aspects, and there’s ways to achieve this same level of control whilst still getting all the benefits of using a harness which we will explore below.
If you need an immediate solution, we've got you covered. However, remember that these fixes provide short-term relief. Achieving lasting behaviour change requires training, as dogs may revert to their original behaviour once these quick fixes are removed.
Switch back to a collar:
If you find that your sighthound pulls less when using a collar and walks nicely, you can temporarily switch back to a collar. This will give you time to work on the strategies below before transitioning back to the harness. While we advocate for using proper sighthound harnesses, collars can be great too and some people prefer them.
Double ended lead:
Use a double-ended lead with your sighthound. Attach one end to the harness to act as a brake, providing safety without putting pressure on the neck. Attach the other end to their collar to guide your dog. Directing your dog with their collar can be an effective way to prevent pulling.
No pull harness:
These are effective at stopping your sighthound from pulling but we do not recommend them.
No pull harnesses work by restricting your dog’s natural movement and making it uncomfortable to pull. This is great at stopping pulling, sure, but let’s remember our priorities here. We want happy, safe, and comfortable hounds, and this fails that test.
Other no pull harnesses work by using a D ring on the chest allowing you to redirect your dog when they pull similar to the double ended lead method. This can be effective and is definitely the best kind of no pull harness.
Training your sighthound not to pull when wearing a harness:
Quick fixes can help in the short term, but for lasting change without relying on additional tools, you need to put time into training. Here's how you can achieve that:
A word on positive reinforcement:
We always recommend positive reinforcement techniques when training your sighthound, which involves rewarding the behaviour you want to see. This makes the experience more rewarding for you and your dog and is highly effective. It takes time, patience, and consistency, but the results are worth it.
Step 1 – Being close:
Start at home or in your garden, a familiar area with fewer distractions. Put on your dog's harness and lead, then walk around, rewarding them with their favourite treats for staying by your side. This helps build a positive association with walking beside you.
Step 2 – No pulling:
If your dog starts pulling or moving toward the end of the leash, stop walking. If your dog has good recall, call them back to you, reward them, and continue with step 1. If not, wait for them to focus on you again, and when they do, reward them and continue with step 1. Avoid pulling your dog back or walking while they're pulling.
Step 3 – Practice and repetition:
Consistency and short but frequent training sessions are key. Make it fun and exciting. If your dog seems distracted or stops having fun, take a break and pick it back up another time.
Step 4 – More distracting environments:
Gradually introduce distractions in your training, such as toys or family members in the garden. You can also venture outside, starting in less busy areas and progressing. Accept setbacks as part of the process, and if needed, go back a step to make it easier.
Good things take time, but with patience and practice, your sighthound will develop better leash manners. You can phase out treats over time.
If your sighthound has been pulling more since switching to a harness, you now have a plan for happy and safe walks with your furry friend.
When using a harness, opt for one designed with your sighthound's comfort and safety in mind like our sighthound escape proof harness.