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Halter sizing


TxMom
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I'm doing nosework with Livi, and there's a recommendation that at some point I get a halter that she wears for nosework. I'm not sure yet how seriously we'll pursue nosework to decide how much gear I'm going to invest in, and I don't know how critical it is to have a harness for it. We're not very far into the class yet, and that all comes up later. But it got me wondering: at what point would it even be rational to get a harness for her since she's still a puppy? Is there an approximate age at which her chest and neck are probably close enough to adult size that it shouldn't matter as long as the harness is adjustable, or is it best to just wait? Or buy something cheap for now and expect to replace it later? (I hesitate to go cheap, but then, it's not like I'd be using it to control her pulling on a leash or anything -- I get the impression it's more like having dress-up clothes to cue her that we're working.)

 

Edit: That should say harness, not halter. It's been a long day...

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Good question, I have been wondering the same thing i.e.: at what age is a BC's chest/rib cage at full skeletal development, there is always a little room for adjustment after full maturity. No the harness is not just about dress up, it's so the dog has complete freedom of movement from the shoulders through to neck and head. The harness doesn't need to be fancy at all. When I start a dog in tracking I use the cheapest I can find, as you say, it's not about restraining the dog. With my GSD I started with a cheap one at 4-5 months and got him his better quality one at 9 months and there was plenty of adjustment for him to grow into it with further muscle development. By this stage you know if your dog and yourself are enjoying the sport enough to continue. You can get excellent quality harnesses quite cheaply from www.fordogtrainers.com , it's a US company but the harnesses come out of Israel. I am surprised at the halter idea, it's a big no, no with tracking dogs (in Australia at least). Most dogs I've seen seem to be quite annoyed and distracted by them and they sure do interfere with their natural tracking movement.

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I bought Tess a harness when she was 14 mo. In the next 5 months her ribcage perimeter grew 4 inches. Thankfully the harness adjusted to that, but barely. At a point I thought I would have to buy another one, but she stabilized at a size the harness is still perfect for. Her harness is a Julius K9. Perfect for dockdiving and tracking, but we also do some bitework and this harness makes her gag. I use a cheap one for bite work as she seems more comfortable with that one for this kind of work (exerts pressure in diferent places when she pulls), and the Julius K9 for the other activities where it works well.

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I have harnesses for my dogs, but they're for ID or biking and they don't wear them when actually working.

 

Basic harnesses aren't too expensive - several options on Amazon for $10-$12. Some of the more popular ones cost a bit more though. I got Kolt a Ruffwear harness when he was 6-7 m/o. It's just a hair too small on him now (approx 20 m/o). I'll probably sell it in a FB group and buy the next size up. I'll be able to get about half the retail value as it's still in great condition.

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