Do you ever wish you could, for once, go on a leisurely walk with your beloved Labrador without him/her pulling you at an unsustainable pace? Labradors, like most dog breeds, tend to be generally very active animals.
This is particularly true when you take them out for a walk or to play after they have been indoors for a sustained period of time. They will get excited and take off like crazed animals. Your attempts to hold on to his harness will have you following suit at breakneck speeds.
While the best harness for Labs tends to be strong and won’t break, these high-speed chases just don’t gel well with your vision of a leisurely and loving stroll on quiet evenings as you guys marvel at the beauty of the sunset. So what can you do to keep your Lab from pulling and what are the best no-pull harnesses for Labs?
Why Do Dogs Pull?
From your human perspective, it would seem like having to drag an entire human being behind you while your harness or collar chokes you and cuts into your throat isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. It seems like something you would try once and never do again. So why do Labradors keep doing it? Why does your Lab pull?
The answer is simple: Labradors pull because they keep getting rewarded for it!
You might not be aware that you are doing this because too many dog owners rewards involve treats. You know, the kind you give your dog for being still once you are done brushing his teeth or bathing him. However, to a dog, the best kind of reward is letting him be out and about.
Now think about it: every time your dog pulls you on his leash as you guys try to take that leisurely walk that he seems determined to ruin, he gets rewarded with the best thing in his life – a chance to roam free and run wild. In his mind, his pulling you have earned him a walk in the woods or out in the field. It’s doesn’t compute that you were already taking him for a walk anyway.
To your dog, exercise is a powerful reward, and he believes that dragging you there is what gets him that reward. As a result, this behavior is reinforced, and that is how you reward your Lab for pulling. That is why he keeps pulling!
How to Stop Your Dog from Pulling
Even though it seems impossible now, pulling is a behavior that can be cured in your Lab. There are very many ways to do it:
- You could either hire a professional dog trainer to cure that behavior in your dog
- You could learn how to do it yourself
Hiring a professional trainer is often simpler and less involving, but if you want to do it yourself, here are some tips that you can follow:
The Different Approaches to Stopping Your Lab from Pulling
There are two main approaches to curing your dog of this awful pulling behavior on your own. These approaches are completely different from one another, and you should decide from the beginning which one you are going to take and stick to it:
- The aversive based approach
- The non-aversive based approach
While both methods are completely different, they often rely on the same principles:
- Stop rewarding your dog for pulling
- Establish a nice, loose-lead walk while at home
- Gradually add the distance and distraction in incremental and achievable stages
That being said, here are some general guidelines to help you prevent your Lab from pulling:
- Start leash training your Lab while he is young: Many people don’t do this, and as a result, the Lab develops terrible leash etiquette. Start leash training them when they are young to ensure that they learn the proper manners as they grow.
- Practice attention: Your Lab is going to get excited every time you take him outside. He is going to want to sniff that flower, fraternize with other dogs and lick that unsuspecting child all at once. You need to establish a routine where he pays attention to you on command. That is why while leash training, you need him to adhere to the commands: Leave It or Drop. That way, when he hears you say these commands on his walk, he will bring his attention back to you.
- Only reward the correct position: Just as it’s easy to establish that awful pulling behavior through a reward-based system, albeit unintentional, you can intentionally establish a different kind of behavior where you reward him for behaving the way you want him to. Whenever he is calmly walking beside you in heel position with a loose leash, give him a treat.
What Is a No-Pull Harness for Labs?
Another way to discourage this pulling behavior is to use a no-pull harness for your Lab. A no-pull harness is simply a harness and leash system that helps you accomplish two things:
- Protect your Labs body from harm when he tries to pull as you guys are walking
- Discouraging him from pulling on the leash when you guys are out walking
Finding the best no-pull harness for your Lab isn’t that difficult. Simply following these steps will guide you towards buying the right one:
- Measure your Labs neck and chest
- Read several reviews of no-pull harnesses for Labs and get a feel for what’s on the market
- Go on discussion boards or read what kind of reviews your top three no-pull harnesses are getting from other Lab owners
- Try out your chosen no-pull harness for size and be willing to give a few other options a try if the first one doesn’t feel right
The Different Types of No-Pull Harnesses for Labs
There are many different types of no-pull harnesses for Labs in the market today. Each and every one of these different types has its own merits and demerits. Here are the most common types:
- The Back Clip No Pull Harness: This particular kind of harness is all about protecting your dog’s neck. It works by fitting on the front of your dog’s body over the general chest region. The leash itself clips on the top part of the harness towards the mid-section of your dog’s back.
- The Chest Clip Harness: As the name suggests, this harness fits the front of your dog’s body and over the chest region. The leash is clipped to the lower chest section at the front of the harness. The idea is that this harness helps to both protect your dog’s neck and redirect his head towards you whenever he starts pulling.
- The Back and Chest Clip Harness: This harness fits on your dog’s body over his chest and has two clips: one of the clips is on the chest just under your dog’s chin and the other is on the back along your dog’s spine.
In many cases, finding the right harness for your dog is a matter of trial and error. That being said, here are the best no-pull harnesses for Labs based on ratings and user reviews.
The Best No-Pull Harness for Labs Reviewed
Ruffwear All Day Adventure Dog Harness
The Ruffwear All Day Adventure Dog Harness was designed to offer you two solutions: provide your dog with extreme comfort when he is on the leash and reduce his pulling behavior. Not only is this harness sturdy and practical, but it’s also affordable too. The harness is designed with two lead attachments with the first one being a strong aluminum V-ring that can be found at the top center on the back of the harness. This leash attachment option will attach to pretty much any lead.
The second lead attachment can be found at the chest area of the harness on the front side. It’s designed in the form of a webbing loop. You can use this lead attachment with a double-ended training leash for better control of the dog.
Features and Pros of the Ruffwear All Day Adventure Dog Harness:
- It’s made for extended wear which makes it durable and lightweight. Like its name, this harness can be used for all-day activities
- It is easy to put on and take off
- It has three leash attachment points which give you total control of the dog
- It is padded for the dog’s comfort
- It has a customizable fit that is perfect for Labradors of all sizes
- Your dog can end up playing with it as a chew toy if you don’t store it properly because of its bright and easily visible fabric and color
If you are looking for something that gives you complete control of your dog, comfort, and various leash attachments, then this is the harness for you.
2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Dog Harness
The first point of order here is that the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Dog Harness is made and produced in the USA (there are dog owners who are very particular about that). This is a very popular harness with many dog owners around the country. Featuring a simple design, this harness is made out of a soft strap that has Swiss velvet lining. This strap goes behind the dog’s leg, which helps in three main ways: prevents chafing, rubbing, and sores.
The harness has a martingale loop on its back that helps with the gentle tightening around the dog’s chest which in turn discourages pulling. You can also use a double-ended dog leash with this harness for additional control. The front attachment is made out of a metal ring, and this harness comes with comprehensive training instructions as well as in nineteen different colors.
Features and Pros of the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Dog Harness:
- It’s made out of Swiss velvet lining which makes this harness very comfortable and durable
- This Freedom no-pull Harness features a martingale loop that helps to eliminate pulling, escape, or neck strain when walking your dog
- This harness is multi-functional. It can be used to exercise your dog when attached at the back and to discourage pulling when attached at the front
- It comes in many different colors (19)
- Not ideal for dogs that are not used to wearing a leash or inexperienced dog owners
If you want something that is both comfortable and multi-functional, then this is the harness for you.
TrueLove No-Pull Dog Harness
Just by the name of the brand, you can tell that this harness was designed to make your dog feel loved. The TrueLove No-Pull Dog Harness is quite similar to the beloved Ruffwear harness featured above. It’s comfortably padded, built for tough and can help stop your dog from pulling. The design of this harness fits snuggly on your dog and therefore does not chafe or cause any kind of sores. The harness is designed with both a front and a back clip that help in two main ways: for general walking of the dog when attached at the back and for no pulling training when attached at the front.
The one thing that stands out about this harness is that it features a breathable design. The padding used to make it is comfortable on the dog’s chest and belly and while it features tough material the strong tensile strength and double stitching go a long way in making this harness perfectly comfortable for your dog.
Features and Pros of the TrueLove No-Pull Dog Harness:
- It’s made out of tough material that is durable but comfortable
- It features comfortable padding, which makes it a pleasure for your dog to wear
- It can be used for two main purposes thanks to its two clip approach: walking and no pull training
- It comes in seven different colors
- Only comes in seven different colors
If you have been looking for a comfortable, durable and multi-purposed harness for your Lab, then this might just be the right one for you.
Every single one of these harnesses is designed to help you both cure your dog of his terrible pulling habit all the while making it comfortable and enjoyable for him to take those wonderful walks with you. You are advised to do your research and try out a few options to find out which works out best for you and your Labrador.