I receive a lot of dog catalogs and other info about dog-related products, so here’s a list of what I consider to be the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
I will focus on an old favorite, the Gentle Leader. If you don’t know, the Gentle Leader is a head harness for your dog, not unlike a halter that you would use on a horse. It is not a muzzle – it doesn’t hurt, they can still eat, bark and even bite. Because of its design and where it touches the dog, it generally has a calming effect so not only is it good for dogs who like to pull, it is also good to help anxious dogs enjoy their walks. I don’t know a lot of products that work on both. It is really helpful , especially when you are just learning to walk with your dog.
Here are two products that I have not seen before, so I don’t know if they are new or whether I am just seeing them for the first time.
Dog trainers don’t generally like retractable leashes. They give the illusion of control without really giving control, and the cord can easily wrap around a person’s leg or wrist and cause serious pain or injury. (If you have ever experienced it, you don’t forget it.) In addition, if your dog accidentally gets away, he is now being chased by a giant heavy plastic object which is loud when it hits concrete or pavement. So your already frightened dog is scared even more. What’s worse, the double retractable leash! Walk two dogs at one time so you have less control and double the risk. Say your dogs get away and run towards a child. It is easy to picture how that child could easily get tangled up in the mess of leashes between two excited dogs. It’s not a picture I like to think about.
Prong collars are a popular choice for a lot of people, but I’d venture to say most people aren’t using them properly. They are tricky to use and should be the last resort for dogs. In other words, they should only be used after less aversive methods have failed and with professional guidance. The latest thing I am seeing are prong collars that look like buckle collars. If someone uses a prong collar at least it alerts people to the fact that the dog may not be fully under control. However, a collar with a cute print and prongs on the inside gives no such warning. There are also cotton covers to put over a traditional prong but both are designed to hide the fact that the dog is wearing a prong collar. We have even seen people taking therapy tests try to use these, even though prongs are prohibited in animal assisted therapy.
And oh, how ugly this is. In fact, here’s a warning – you can’t unsee this, so be careful. It is an app for everybody who has ever wondered “I wonder what my pet would look like as a baby?” I don’t mean you get an adult rescue dog and you can get a version of his puppy picture – I mean it merges your dog and your baby into a creature that may haunt your dreams. It’s called Pet Baby and is $.99. I think it is kinder not to post a picture here – you’ll see what I mean.