Key information:

It’s possible to train a dog without using any equipment, but for safety dogs should be walked on lead (eg in busy shopping areas, near roads, new places where they could become disorientated) and be kept under control (especially near livestock, wildlife, natural hazards and other dogs who may not want to be approached). 

Most of the equipment below has been created to stop a dog pulling, or to make them walk close to a person's side, and not react to potential triggers. Each of those things can be taught using rewards-based training, without a reliance on equipment that punishes unwanted behaviour.

Training takes time and patience, and an understanding of your dog’s needs.

Most training can be done with a simple flat collar and standard-length lead.

If you’re having issues with your dog, the desire for a ‘quick fix’ might mean you want to try something else. But some equipment is designed to be highly aversive, and can cause pain, discomfort, stress, anxiety, frustration and physical injury. Certain types of equipment are banned in some countries because of this. Please choose with care, and always have empathy for your dog. Consult a trainer or behaviourist if you need help with your dog.



  • Very short training lead. Acts as a handle to grab during training.
  • Short lead. Usually fabric or leather, but chain ones are useful for dogs who bite/ chew their lead (until they are trained not to do this). Keeps a dog close to you while walking. Choose a comfortable length for your dog's breed/ size. Some short leads have a bungee part, to stop the shock of your dog suddenly pulling – but they can make pulling worse by reducing the communication between you and your dog through the lead.
  • Longer training lead. Allows a dog a bit more room to move away and sniff, or to interact with a person or dog, but not so far that a dog can pull away. Usually has a clip at both ends, so you can use it with a harness or head halter for two-point contact.
  • Puppy training line. Lightweight fabric, these are useful around the home when you need to move a puppy away from something without having to touch them. Under supervision only.
  • Extendable. Various lengths; either cord or tape. Allows a dog to move several meters away. Great for recall training, and when a dog cannot be let of lead in that location eg on a long walk in a new or potentially exciting area. Can be a problem if your dog gets overexcited or pulls too much. Needs to be easy to operate, and needs concentration for it to work well!
  • Long line. These are fabric, very long, and can trail on the ground, allowing a dog much more freedom. Great for recall training, especially around distractions. Gives you something to grab/ stand on if your dog tries to run away. Can cause issues if it gets tangled around legs (people and dogs); plus a risk of rope burn if you’re not using gloves. A big problem if your dog suddenly shoots off and you're not ready - can cause injuries to you and your dog when they get to the end of the lead.
  • Slip leads, check/ choke chains, and dominance/ grot collars. These are either fabric, leather or chain, and continue to tighten as a dog pulls. Some are very thin, and can cause a lot of pain. Many trainers encourage them to be positioned at the highest point of the neck, the most sensitive area, thereby creating the greatest risk of injury or discomfort. Can cause damage to windpipes/ neck. Although simple fabric slip leads are useful when a lead needs to be put on/ taken off quickly (e.g. during work or training or moving a dog from one area to another), they should only really be used for trained dogs who do not pull.
  • Figure-eight. These are like a normal slip lead, with a twist put in them, which then fits over a dog’s muzzle, thereby creating a head halter. These continue to tighten, and can cause a lot of discomfort, and possible injuries.



  • Puppy collar. Lightweight fabric. For young, unvaccinated puppies, who aren’t yet walking out, but need to get used to a collar and lead. Useful when needing to move them away from trouble! Should be taken off when they are not being supervised, so it doesn't become caught on anything and frighten the puppy.
  • Flat collar. Fabric or leather, with a buckle or clip fastening. Padded ones are even more comfortable. Needs to be broad enough for the size and breed of dog wearing it, and should be extra wide for sight hounds (who generally have a more sensitive neck). Great for all training and general management. A dog’s ID tag can be easily attached to it, as can some smart tech e.g. tracker/ activity monitor.
  • Dominance/ grot collars. Often very thin, positioned at the highest point of a dog's neck (the most sensitive area). Used for correcting a dog if they move out of heel position, or react to another dog/ person/ animal. Highly aversive. Trainers use them as a 'quick fix' without addressing the underlying reasons for a behaviour issue, and without first rewarding a dog for doing the right thing. Also often used without using a vocal warning, so a dog is less able to work out how to avoid the punishment.
  • Martingale/ half-check. Fabric, or fabric and chain. They only tighten to a set point (and need to be carefully sized and fitted, to not cause pain or discomfort). Great for dogs that try to pull backwards out of their collar. However, there is a tendency with some trainers for them to be fitted too tight, with the gap much wider, meaning a dog's neck becomes pinched when the collar is pulled, causing pain or discomfort. This should be avoided.
  • Pinch/ prong collars. Banned in many countries (inc. Australia) because of the pain, stress and damage they can cause. Prong collars consist of metal spikes that dig into a dog’s neck when the lead is pulled. Pinch collars are generally plastic ridges that pinch the dog's skin as the collar is pulled tight. Promoted by some trainers as a cure for pulling and ‘disobedience’ when walking, and as a 'quick fix', but they can cause more problems than they fix as well as it not being a very nice experience for the dog. Well-planned reward-based training means that this level of aversive punishment is unnecessary. 
  • Vibrating collars. Great for training deaf dogs as they allow communication with a dog at a distance. Careful training is needed for a dog to understand what is required – it’s not about scaring them, it’s acting as a cue e.g. ‘come’. Some dogs are frightened of this sensation, so alternative methods need to be found. Used by some trainers as punishment for poor recall or reactivity. Although it can be argued it's preferable to using a shock collar, it's still concentrating on punishing a dog for getting it wrong, rather than rewarding them for getting it right. On very low setting, paired with food or tug for returning, the vibrate can become a useful teaching tool to reward good behaviour and to communicate cues at a distance. But easily used the wrong way (as in aversive training) by certain trainers.
  • Spray collars. These are remote collars that spray a jet of liquid (neutral or citronella) into a dog’s face when a button is pressed. There is an audible signal that is used first, as a warning. Used for recall issues or to stop aggressive behaviour when away from their owner. These rely on punishment, and can cause more problems than they fix. And especially with the scented spray, the unpleasant smell hangs around on the dog's coat and collar, meaning the punishment continues beyond the thing they were being punished for. A better way is to improve the training plan so a dog is being rewarded for correct decisions rather than being punished for getting it wrong.
  • Anti-bark collars. Promoted as a way to solve problem barking, dogs receive an unpleasant sound/ spray/ shock/ vibration when they bark. It doesn’t change the underlying issues, and it relies on aversive punishment which can cause more problems than they fix. Dogs bark for a reason (boredom, excitement, fear, unhappiness, separation anxiety etc), and if that isn't addressed, simply stopping the barking can lead to greater levels of stress. Can be triggered by other sounds or other dogs barking - then they are being punished without doing anything wrong. Doesn't work for some dogs, especially when their needs aren't being met (eg exercise or safety).
  • Electric shock collars. Banned in some countries, they are remote collars that allow the handler to deliver an electric shock to a dog’s neck. An audible signal should be used first, as a warning, so a dog has the chance to stop the behaviour they are doing and avoid the shock. But this step is often missed out by trainers/ owners, meaning the dog has less chance to learn. Used by some trainers for recall issues, predatory behaviour towards livestock, or to stop aggressive behaviour to people and dogs when at a distance from their handler. These rely on a high level of aversive punishment, and can cause more problems than they solve.
  • TENS/ EMS collars. These are shock collars by another name. These new designs have lower settings which are not as dramatic as a shock, but at their highest levels (especially those with a boost function) they are still capable of giving a sizeable shock. The electrodes make very close contact with the skin, and pass an electric current through the skin and muscle, causing the muscle to contract. At lowest levels, the sensation can be paired with food, games or a fuss to teach a dog to recall from a distance. But the threat of a stronger signal is always there ie if the dog doesn't respond, the strength of the sensation increases, which is why this training is still based in aversive punishment. Also, many trainers will make a big show of using food at an early stage to get a dog to respond to the lower levels, and then stop, meaning all that's left is a slightly unpleasant stimulation, with the threat of a greater muscle twitch or shock if they fail to respond.
  • Electric shock collars for invisible fencing. These work on an automatic setting. When a dog gets close to the invisible fence (a wire buried in the ground) the collar emits a sound. If the dog continues to move forward, they receive an electric shock. These rely on a high level of aversive punishment, and can cause more problems than they fix. Much better to have secure physical fencing, and to meet a dog's exercise and social needs so they don't have a desire to leave the property.


Body Harnesses

  • These are designed for a dog to feel comfortable on a walk, with no rubbing or pressure on any part of their body. They either clip up over a dog’s back, or their head goes through one bit, with clips at the side (or a variation of these). The most comfortable are the Y-shaped ones, which have less restriction on a dog's shoulder movement. Different dogs do better with different designs – try them out first. The downside is that dog's can be more powerful when pulling, and it's harder to turn them away from trouble.
  • Two-point contact. To help with pulling, there are rings on the back and chest area, which allows a dog to be moved to the side more easily. However, the front contact area often pulls a harness out of position, and can cause discomfort, especially if a reactive dog gets too close to a trigger or if they pull hard.
  • Anti-pull – front/ shoulder restriction. These harnesses block forward motion by restricting power from the shoulders and chest muscles – lead is usually clipped to a ring on the dog’s side. But it works through adding discomfort, so it's better to train with a more comfortable harness and use rewards to teach them how to walk without pulling.
  • Anti-pull – constricting. These harnesses keep tightening as a dog pulls. As they start to feel discomfort, the theory is that they’ll back off the pressure and stop pulling so much. But they can also cause pain and injury in some dogs, and should be avoided. Use rewards to train your dog to walk without pulling, or use a two-point contact with a collar and comfortable fixed harness.
  • Car travel. You can adapt fixed harnessed, or have specific ones for travel.They usually clip into seatbelts.
  • Sports. If you're involved in canicross, husky racing, or many other fun sports, you'll need to invest in a specialised harness which will allow your dog to comfortably pull into the harness and tow you along!


Head halters/ head collars

  • Over the nose, D-ring underneath. Can either be fixed into one position (e.g. Gentle Leader), or there may be some movement in it to allow a dog to open their mouth wider if not pulling (e.g. Halti, Dogmatic). Can cause discomfort or injury if dogs are not trained to walk without pulling. Best with a double ended lead to use two-point contact (collar or harness plus head collar). Dogs find them naturally uncomfortable, so they need to be rewarded a lot for accepting it.
  • Over the nose, D-ring on the back of the neck. Keeps a dog’s head lower than other head collars, but harder to turn them to the side (e.g. Canny Collar). Again, many dogs find them uncomfortable, and it can be harder to turn them to the side than if the contact point is under the nose.
  • Muzzle with D-ring. A useful combination when needing the extra safety of a muzzle, with the ability to turn a dog away from potential trouble. These are usually thick fabric, and as such do not allow a dog to easily pant, drink or take treats, so should only be used for short periods.

(c) Sarah Crockford 2024