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MaggieRoseLee 02-04-2014 09:10 AM

No pull harnesses (actually all harnesses) harming our dogs?
The No-Pull Debate - Whole Dog Journal Article

The No-Pull Debate from Whole Dog Journal


Recently, WDJ received a letter from Christine Zink, DVM, PhD, DACVP, DACVSMR, who was concerned about the photo in WDJ (on the cover, no less!) of a jogger whose dog, running alongside, was wearing a front-clip-type harness. A sports medicine guru and canine athlete enthusiast, Dr. Zink (and others) posit that no-pull harnesses are detrimental to a dog’s structure and gait – and are especially inappropriate for canine athletes. no-pull harnesses should not be used for vigorous exercise.

In a limited gait analysis study, Dr. Zink observed that dogs wearing no-pull, front clip harnesses bore less weight on their front legs than they normally would – even when the harness wasn’t attached to a leash! In addition, the dogs bore less weight on the leg that was on the far side of where the person walked, even when there was no leash attached; when the dog had a leash attached, it was more significant. This suggests to her that the dog was reacting to the presence of the harness against the leg by pushing harder against it. In all cases, the gait of the front limbs was altered whenever the harness was on..........................

Liesje 02-04-2014 10:04 AM

Where is the leap to all harnesses? Sounds like she is talking about the restrictive, no-pull types? I have a few harnesses I use (mainly for flyball and nosework) but specifically fit them to sit higher up on the chest, like where a loosely fitted collar or fursaver would lie, so that it doesn't restrict the dog being able to extend forward or jump. I no longer use the no-pull harnesses because they just haven't worked as effectively as other tools and are easy for a wild dog to get out of.

MaggieRoseLee 02-04-2014 10:11 AM

Doesn't she say her concerns are about the dogs walking differently (distribute their weight differently) even when the harness isn't attached to a leash? Wouldn't that same occur with any harness?

I only copied/pasted part of the article with the link to the rest.


carmspack 02-04-2014 10:20 AM

that is why they are no pull -- they hobble

Blanketback 02-04-2014 10:25 AM

“I do not believe that there is a harness on the market that is nonrestrictive and that also helps the dog not to pull,” says Dr. Zink.” There are however some very nice, well constructed, nonrestrictive harnesses on the market. However, those should not be considered as a method to teach a dog not to pull. In my opinion the real way to get a dog to stop pulling is to train it.”

It isn't all harnesses, just the ones that are designed to inhibit the dog's pulling. I know my harness that I use to bike with is fine, it's got the D ring on the back, and my dog has complete freedom in it. I'd like the strap under his chest to be a tad longer, but then he'd be able to get out of it.

Liesje 02-04-2014 10:28 AM


Originally Posted by MaggieRoseLee (Post 4962418)
Doesn't she say her concerns are about the dogs walking differently (distribute their weight differently) even when the harness isn't attached to a leash? Wouldn't that same occur with any harness?

I only copied/pasted part of the article with the link to the rest.


The article talks about the difference between a no-pull harness and a "non-restrictive" harness. I purposely fit my harnesses so they *don't* fit like a no-pull harness and don't restrict movement. For example, for flyball the dogs obviously need to be able to jump and fully extend. I want the harness to sit high on the chest, under the chin. I also don't fit them that tight, they are not being used to keep the dog with me (dog's already trained for that).

Freestep 02-04-2014 10:32 AM

I have often wondered about this. I see some of my clients' dogs are using these harnesses, and some of them do seem to have an odd gait, or weird structure. Hard to describe, but the structure and gait just doesn't look right to me. Can't say if it was caused by the harness, but it is odd.

Liesje 02-04-2014 10:33 AM

I got this harness for Nikon b/c I didn't like how the ComfortFlex fit, it was too low and IMO, restrictive. This one fits higher up (it's basically touching his collar) and the front strap is pretty loose. I've had him wear it for flyball, dock diving, and agility just to be sure he moves the same and has a full range of motion. The picture was taken the day it came, you can see it looks quite stiff. We've since broken it in better and I have it laying nice and high across the front of his chest.

The easy walk type harnesses are usually fit lower

Blanketback 02-04-2014 10:39 AM

There's nothing wrong with Nikon's harness. It's sweet! Mine is cheaper, with a strap on the back to connect the neck band with the chest band. The article isn't referring to these types of harness.

arby665 02-04-2014 10:39 AM

Great. Just another way I'm screwing up my dogs. I'm going to forward this article to the trainer who insisted I buy the no-pull harness.

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