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What All Dog Walkers Need to Know About Dog Walking Equipment



New to dog walking as a profession, or looking to sharpen your skills as a veteran pet care business owner? There is a wide variety of equipment that pet parents may provide as part of their pet’s care experience and it’s important to be familiar with their use to ensure the safest walks possible. 


The best caregivers are familiar with the many different kinds of collars a pet parent may provide, understand how they work, and ensure they’re fitted properly.

The best caregivers are familiar with the many different kinds of collars a pet parent may provide, understand how they work, and ensure they’re fitted properly.

Flat Collars

A flat collar simply attaches around the dog's neck and snaps closed.  It's important that a flat collar  be snug enough that your dog can't pull out of it, but not so snug that it constricts breathing and causes discomfort. Make sure you can slip two fingers under the collar when it’s secured and be sure to attach a leash to the D-ring, never the ring connecting a dog’s ID tags to its collar. 

Martingale Collars

Martingale collars fit like a flat collar, and works like a choke. One good thing about the martingale is that it never cinches too tight on a dog if fitted properly, and it adds an extra layer of protection against any escape-artists. Simply put it around the dog's neck, snap the buckle, and attach the leash to the D-ring. 

Choke Chains

To use a choke chain, simply feed the chain through the bottom ring. It will make the shape of a "P" before you put it on the dog. Once it's on the dog's neck, the chain will tighten to prevent the dog from escaping. Attach a leash to the ring at the bottom, not the chain’s links.

Pinch Collars

To fit a pinch collar, simply pinch apart the small prongs and put it around your dog's neck. Make sure you fit it high, and fairly snug. Once it's on the dog's neck, simply attach the leash to the D-ring. If the collar is big enough to slide over the dog's head, it's improperly fitted.

Slip Leads

Slip leads have a ring on one side with a rope fed through them, which will go around the dog's neck. Put the dog's head through the loop, snug down the leather stopper to ensure the dog can't pull out, and you're ready to go. Slip leads are an excellent leash for pet caregivers to have on hand to use in addition to a pet parent’s leash for maximum security.


Harnesses are a great, secure option when a pet parent wants to keep the pressure off their dog's neck, but an improperly fitted harness or one you're unfamiliar with can be a safety risk. 

Step-In Harnesses

A step-in harness is simply a harness that the dog steps into, and it cinches around their back. To fit a dog with a step-in harness, lay the harness on the ground and gently lift the dog's paws into each of the leg holes. Then lift the harness up and cinch it behind the dog's back or shoulder blades. When attaching a leash to a step-in harness, connect it to both D-rings.  Be sure that the straps don’t fit too snugly behind the dog’s armpits and that they are comfortable enough to move freely. 

Easy Walk Harnesses

Easy Walk harnesses are designed to prevent dogs from pulling by having the D-ring at the dog’s chest. Simply undo the buckle, place the harness over the dog’s head like a necklace, and snap the buckles under the dog’s belly. The fit should be comfortable, but it should not be loose enough where the dog could walk out of the harness. Some people still recommend using a collar for extra assurance (a slip lead is a great backup).

Head Harnesses

To use a head harness, which also prevents a dog from pulling, simply push the loop up through the collar and hang it over the dog's nose. Snap the collar closed high behind the dog's ears, and make sure it fits very snugly, where only one finger can fit between the collar and the dog's head. To attach the leash, simply feed the leash through the ring or attach it to the O-ring, and you're ready to go.

Equipment Checks

Before you perform a service, you can perform a quick equipment check to ensure the safest walk possible.

  • First: Are you familiar with the equipment and how to use it? If not, refresh using the videos above, or other online resources. You may also contact your client for assistance.

  • Examine the leash: Is it frayed or worn? Is it attached appropriately the the harness or collar (and NOT attached to the ring that connects a dog’s tags to its collar)?

  • Collar/Harness: Are they frayed or worn? Are D-rings connected securely? Do the fasteners close appropriately, without risk of coming undone?

Equipment Failures

In the event of an equipment failure, it's important to know how to handle the situation if the dog gets loose. The most important thing to do is to stay calm. Don’t yell, and don’t chase the dog. Run backwards away from the dog and coax him back to you with excited tones; don’t turn your back or shoulders to the dog. You may also want to sit or lay down in an attempt to make the dog curious enough to return.

Use treats as an incentive and as a reward when the dog returns to you. If you can’t use treats because the dog has an allergy, or you don’t have permission from the client, pretend to have treats, or use the word “treat” instead and reward the dog with a toy or other incentive, like pets or scratches.

Other Equipment

You may wish to carry additional equipment with you on dog walks. Here are some examples of helpful equipment for the best and safest dog walks:

  • Collapsible water bowl + fresh water

  • Dog first aid kit

  • Paw balm for walking on hot or cold sidewalk

  • Wipes

  • Poop bags

  • Slip lead for extra security

Comments (13)

Janette White


I’ve been trying to get in touch with a real person from wag now for weeks can someone contact me please



Thank you for the wonderful information! Crucial knowledge for any pet parent or caregiver!

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