Karen Pryor went to Germany and came back with… a new harness for Misha. Well, two, actually. Read on.
Clarissa v. Reinhardt has a goal: all dogs should be safe, well, and happy. To this end, at her establishment in the Bavarian Alps in Germany Clarissa runs a training school (with ten acres of outdoor training grounds), an animal shelter (with living rooms and gardens for the dogs), a publishing house (clicker training strongly endorsed), and a store (selling organic nutrition and wellness supplies and the world's most comfortable dog beds). Her organization, called Animal Learn, holds an annual conference on canine behavior, attended by several hundred people (and some dogs) from all over Europe.
Last year was the 10th anniversary of the behavior conference. I was invited to speak, and I went. It took place in a little town in the mountains, awesomely picturesque: centuries-old white farmhouses and barns, little churches on little hills, little cows and little horses, cobblestone streets, and a little river running through the town. Our two-day conference was in a historic white-stone building with a bell tower and cobblestone courtyard—PLUS superb electronics, two very clever and amusing simultaneous translators, and wonderful food.
All the dogs were well-behaved. And none of them wore collars. Big, small, in-between, they were all wearing harnesses: the Together harness, designed by Clarissa. It's Clarissa's conference, and she wants the dogs to be comfortable. So dogs are not allowed to attend unless they are wearing one of these harnesses. Period.
Clarissa's creation is not a training device or something that's supposed to stop pulling; it is designed primarily to remove collars from the dogs and give them something better. Dogs can wear the harness all day in comfort. They can sleep in it. They can swim in it, if that's what you or they want.
Here's what makes these harnesses truly comfortable:
- The straps go around the neck and ribs, down the back, and down the middle of the chest in such a way that they don't rub and chafe under the armpits or interfere with the free motion of the shoulders, as many harnesses do.
- The girth goes around the ribcage so it doesn't shift forward and pinch.
- The harness unbuckles in two places so it goes on easily and you never have to cram the dog into it.
- The fastenings, both metal and plastic, are strong, durable, and hypo-allergenic. They are specially made with rounded corners so nothing ever pokes the dog.
- The woven webbing is soft to the touch, and soft on the dogs, but it's totally washable and lifetime durable—not just the dog's lifetime, but yours, too.
The Together harness comes in five sizes. It comes in muted elegant colors, with leashes to match. Everything's adjustable and the directions on how to fit it on your dog are completely clear. Got a greyhound? This'll fit. Got an English bulldog? This'll fit. Got a Yorkie? Get the smallest size. The largest will be supremely comfortable for a Great Dane (and they're picky).
So of course I brought a harness home for Misha, my thin-skinned poodle. He shoves his nose in it now, and turns his head away if I bring out a collar instead. He never pulls. He never chokes any more. He used to get open sores from the dog license on his collar; now he never gets sores.
My poodle Misha is a black-and-white dog. I got him an everyday Together harness in black, and a dress-up harness in green. The Together harness is more expensive than harnesses from the pet store, but worth it. Misha looks great. He feels great. It's been a year and he's still completely comfortable. I am, too! Wunderbar!