And the secret is... choosing the right gear! Sounds like a no brainer but many people are using gear that actually makes it harder to hike with their dog, not easier. And if it does seem easier, is it still allowing your dog to enjoy themselves?
Today’s pet market is flooded with a bunch of different products and philosophies. Are you positively rewarding or negatively punishing your dog? OR are you negatively rewarding and positively punishing? Um, can we just go hiking now? While yes, my inner psych major and background in dog training totally respects these ideas, many dog owners just want to know what will work for their dog and what will absolutely not.
The hardest part about hiking with dogs can be when your dog wants to pull you the entire way. We’ll call this the “sled dog effect”. If you put the wrong harness on your dog that gives them the sensation that they should pull, then they’re going to pull. You’re basically asking them to! Instead, find a harness that encourages them to work for you, and not against you. Your dog naturally wants to please you and you can send them the right message by picking the right harness.
Part of our mission here at Wandermutt is to only recommend products that we believe in. I had struggled to hike with my crazy energetic German shepherd for years. She would pull until she was almost choking for most of our hike. I tried a bunch of different products. When I put a pinch collar on her, it stopped the pulling, but her spirit was crushed. She was miserable wearing it which was not the goal of our hike. Finally I came across the Dean & Tyler DT Works Harness. This harness was designed for police and working dogs but it completely changed the way we hiked.
The first time I put the harness on her, she was different (in a good way). She had a purpose to her and she was far more intuitive to me and what I wanted from her. It wasn’t long before hiking together meant working together as a team, especially up the bigger hills. You can even customize the harness with patches that easily attach to the harness.
The design of this harness is what I think really sets it apart. The thick straps make it feel like a heavy duty working harness but it is so lightweight, making it great for long hikes. My favorite feature is the handle on the top. On scarily steep inclines I grab the handle and we work together to keep going. I’ve always loved taking my dogs hiking and this harness changed the way I hike with them. Although their might be better option for your unique dog, this harness is great for someone who is just starting out and wants to team up with their dog, instead of pulling against them.
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