If you have followed my blog, you know that I am completely against the use of prong collars, choke chains and shock collars for dogs. Besides the fundamental belief that dogs should be taught using humane methods, there is no excuse to use those outdated training tools because there are humane alternatives that allow anyone to painlessly control their dogs.
One of those tools is the SENSE-ible or Sensible harness. While there are no dog training miracles, I can confidently say that this product has literally changed the lives of many dogs all over. While the design is simple, the results are noticeable and immediate. I used to use and recommend Halti or Gentle Leaders for walking, but have moved away from those products almost entirely.
While I absolutely put those "snoot loop" products in the humane category (unlike choke, prong or shock collars that are aversive and cause pain) dogs often take a long time to get comfortable with anything on their noses. Dog guardians sometimes give up out of frustration after days of seeing their dogs roll around in the grass or pawing their face.
The SENSE-ible harness, on the other hand, is easy to put on and dogs acclimate to it instantly. There is a very slight learning curve for people to use it as well. It does have to be sized correctly, however, to avoid discomfort for dogs. If it is too small, it can cause rubbing under the dog's armpits and if it is too loose, it can hang too low in front and can cause minor chafing.
Yesterday I received a call from a client that purchased a SENSE-ible harness for her 70 lb., 7 month old fast-growing female Great Pyrenees mix. My client was not walking her very much because she pulled her and hurt her wrist after lunging after a squirrel. My client was concernced that she would pull her down on a walk. She called me to tell me that she just got back from a 30-minute walk with her dog and she said it was amazing how different it was. She said it was very pleasant and that she felt was able to manage her very well without fear of getting dragged down the street. She said she worked on the leash walking exercises that I recommended and it made the walk even better.
How It Works
So how does the SENSE-ible harness work? if you look at the picture of the adorable Beagle to the right, notice how the leash is attached to the front. If a dog is pulling, she is pulled gently around by turning her body the opposite way that she is pulling. It gives the person holding the leash the advantage by using leverage. One of the best aspects of the harness is that takes potentially painful pressure off of a dog's neck and distributes the pressure over her body.
Like all training tools, you still need to practice training while your dog is wearing the SENSE-ible harness. But, the harness makes it easier to manage your dog and focus on the training vs. anxiety that your dog will get away from you or hurt herself on a regular or metal collar.
Great for Dog-Dog Aggression
I recommend all my dog-dog aggression clients use the SENSE-ible harness. Besides removing negative associations when dogs appear with any neck collar, it also gives my clients more confidence that they can control their dog when he or she lunges at another dog. Being calm when working with aggression is very important, and this increases the comfort level for both dog and person.
Why It is Different From a Regular Harness
A regular harness that attaches to a metal clasp located on a dog's back does not make it easier to prevent pulling. On the other hand, it allows a dog to put her whole body into the walk and actually increases her ability to pull. Think sled dogs in Alaska. They put a harness on and pull the sled. The SENSE-ible is designed differently and takes away the leverage from the dog and gives it to the person holding the leash.
Why It is Different From an Easy Walk Harness
You can find a similar product in many stores called the Easy Walk Harness. From lots of personal experience and client feedback, this harness is not the same and is not as easy to use. While it is still a great product, it is designed a bit differently. The Easy Walk has multiple clasps and also has a loop in the front that tightens the harness as the dog pulls. The feedback that I have received from my clients consistently talks about how that harness is harder to size and often slips and needs to be readjusted. The multiple clasps (the SENSE-ible just has one) make it more complicated to size.
Finding a SENSE-ible Harness
My one criticism of the SENSE-ible harness is that it is not in many stores. In Chicago, there are only about 4 or 5 stores that carry it in my travel area, and there are countless pet supply stores within that area. I used to carry samples with me for years and tell clients where they can purchase the harness on their own. To make it easier for my clients, I started carrying the harness and selling it on my website.