Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bad Idea: Why Can't I Use a Flexi Leash with an Easy Walk Harness?

The PetSafe Premier Easy Walk harness is great for preventing dogs from pulling like sled dogs on walks. Flexi retractable leashes are great for letting dogs have a little more freedom without a long leash dragging on the ground or tangling in their legs. Why not combine them and give the dog the freedom of a long leash without getting dragged all over the neighborhood?

improper use of retractable leash with no-pull harness
Photo by Erin Koski
Well I guess you can use them together if you want to, but it's not very nice to your dog. You see, the Easy Walk harness is designed to make leash pressure inconvenient and uncomfortable, and the Flexi leash exerts constant pressure. The result is that the dog learns to ignore the signals given by the harness because pulling is actually a good thing.

Using a retractable leash with a no-pull harness means the dog feels a constant unpleasant sensation.

improper use of retractable leash with no-pull harness
Photo by Erin Koski
The entire point of retractable leashes is that
they do not go slack. Constant tension from the handle to the dog ensures that the leash never drags on the ground, keeping it clean and dry. The bulky plastic handle of a retractable leash houses a spring and a wheel.

Unless the brake is pressed, the spring exerts continuous pressure on the wheel causing it to roll the leash back into the handle. This is what causes an unclipped Flexi leash to go flying back into its handle. Unless the brake is presses, the spring also exerts continuous pressure on the dog. It's not a lot of tension, but it is ever-present tension.

improper use of retractable leash wth no-pull harness
Photo by Erin Koski
In order to extend the leash and get wherever they want to go, dogs learn to pull on the Flexi. The leash is constantly pulling on them, so there is no way for them to walk with no pressure. Just pull against it, and the leash will get longer most of the time.

Unlike other front-clip harnesses, the EasyWalk tightens up across the front when leash pressure is applied. This causes squishes the shoulders and alters the dog's gait. It makes them walk funny. That's not fun, so the dog learns to keep the leash slack so he has freedom of movement.

It's hard to walk while pulling in an Easy Walk harness. A Flexi leash constantly pulls on the dog. Plenty of dogs learn to ignore the feeling, walk funny, and pull as much as they can in the harness. This defeats the purpose of using a no-pull harness. It's also not great for their bodies. Easy Walk harnesses restrict shoulder movement, causing the dog to put more weight on their back end. Using a retractable leash with constant tension probably exacerbates this effect. While it's not always noticeable, sore hips, knees, and backs don't need to be carrying more weight than necessary.

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