Dog harnesses for toy breeds – a smart and stylish option
For those of us who own toy breeds, the scary sounds of coughing, shallow breathing, or in the extreme, hearing your little Maltese squawk like a barnyard goose may be all too familiar. In most cases, these symptoms are the result of an irritated or, in more severe cases, a collapsed trachea. Although these symptoms are disconcerting to new dog owners unfamiliar with this ailment, it is quite common. It is estimated that between 20 and 40% of miniature breed dogs will develop some type of tracheal disorder. The breeds most at risk are among our smallest canine companions: Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Italian Greyhounds, Maltese, and Toy Poodles.
If your pup occasionally exhibits these symptoms, you may notice that a tug on your dog’s collar, while out for a walk, can suddenly trigger them. It is important to understand that tracheal disorders are congenital. A pull on a collar will rarely, if ever, cause the trachea to collapse. However, it can certainly exacerbate an already existing problem or turn a predisposition into the problem. Pulling on a collar can easily cause irritation that leads to coughing, which in turn further irritates the windpipe.
So whether you’re trying to curb your new pup friend’s energy and exuberance, take control of your dog in unsafe situations, or simply take your pup out to answer the call of the wild, harnesses are the perfect choice. for miniature breed dogs. Designed to allow your dog to push with his chest rather than his throat, a well-fitting harness takes pressure off your small dog’s sensitive windpipe. Even for small dogs without tracheal problems, harnesses are better because they distribute the pressure more evenly around the dog’s body and are therefore much more comfortable. For “Houdini” hounds, harnesses provide an escape-proof alternative to the classic collar that can sometimes allow your dog to pull his head back. Toy breed dog collars should be worn to look great and only to hold the tags, not to hold the leash. .
Once you’ve made the decision to purchase a harness, there are a wide variety of harnesses to choose from. Unfortunately, for the first time harness buyer, it’s like trying to buy sports underwear – for someone else! I’ve talked to numerous small dog owners who can pull a harness that didn’t work out of the back of the closet. Too often, what starts out with the best of intentions ends up being an exercise in frustration. But, like anything you want to feel good about and have around for a while, getting the right harness takes some planning.
At Moondoggie, Inc., we offer the following advice to our miniature breed customers:
TAKE 3 MEASUREMENTS: around your dog’s neck, along your dog’s back (top line) from where the collar sits to the base of your dog’s tail, and around the largest part of your dog (circumference) which is usually just behind the legacy forehead. ADD 2 inches to the circumference measurement.
THINK COMFORT – Avoid harnesses that have pressure points where they can rub and irritate your dog’s skin. Nylon and some unfinished leathers tend to do this. Choose soft fabrics that “breathe.” 100% cotton or soft, porous, semi-stretch neoprene blends are great because they are machine washable and dry quickly. If it’s leather you want, try rounded or “tubular” leather and, while it may be a bit more expensive, buy a buttery-smooth leather dog harness. It will last forever, will continue to soften over time, and will look fabulous!
LOVE WHAT YOU CHOOSE – If you love the harness you’ve chosen, you’ll be motivated to help your dog learn to love it too. Just like dog collars and other forms of dog clothing, dog harnesses come in a variety of themes: preppie, rocker, vintage, biker, princess, surfer, athletic, camo, floral, patriotic, modern, vintage, even psychedelic! They also come in a standard adjustable style, a vest style, and a flex style (meaning the head goes through the neck opening with the leash going up and around the dog’s belly with a quick release mechanism on the side). For those of us who love to dress up our pooches, there’s no need to strap on a harness over a cute outfit. Now even the cutest dog dresses, dog t-shirts, and even small dog polo shirts are designed with built-in heavy-duty harnesses.
HAVE FUN – Dogs are creatures of habit. As you’ve probably already experienced, new things are approached cautiously and often with resistance. Introducing a harness into your dog’s already happy life can take a little creativity and more than a little patience. Be prepared and keep your sense of humor when trying to harness your dog for the first time. Beware of the classic canine defensive move when first approached in a harness, which is rolling over. Sometimes it happens even before you get close. More often it happens just when you think it was a breeze and you can snap that buckle, and in an instant your pup rolls over and becomes dead weight. When you try to get your pup back on all fours, he suddenly develops “jelly paws”! Another maneuver to look forward to is the “I just want to see what you’re doing” twist. It’s almost impossible to put a dog in a harness while he’s trying to see what your hands are doing! (However, it’s quite funny to watch someone try.)
To avoid these challenges, we recommend that you pick up and place your dog on a bench or table where you have more control over the action and your dog has less room to maneuver. Talking to your dog in your “good dog” voice also helps. But most of all, make every time you put the harness on your dog the prelude to a ride in the car, or a walk to the park, a cookie, or something really fun. If you make the association between the harness and subsequent positive activity very clear, it won’t take more than a few times before your dog is so happy to wear the harness that getting him to stop fidgeting will be your only challenge!
Harnesses are essential for the health and safety of your toy breed pup. It’s worth the initial shenanigans it may take to convince your baby to become one, they can be fun and trendy too! Once you start shopping for harnesses, we’d like to offer you one last word of caution. Your dog may not be the only one getting “hooked”!