EQUIPMENT TIP: A few facts about harness padding

BadFluffyPadding2Here is another piece of equipment advice for you that only comes after many years of experience working with top racing sled dogs. Let’s talk about fleece harness padding.

Harnesses made with fleece padding have been the most common harnesses on the market for many years. “Fluffy” fleece was the padding on the first x-back harness I ever owned. (The year was 1988.) This was before tougher/better padding material came along. Fleece (most importantly “fluffy” fleece) will not withstand the wear and tear other padding types will. In addition to that in the winter snow will quite often freeze to the padding, on occasion forming ice balls and be uncomfortable for the dog. During rainy, wet or humid conditions, fleece will absorb moisture. And during hot days, fleece will be too warm for the dog. Even though harnesses with fleece padding are the cheapest ones on the market (and quite often they are offered by new/inexperienced manufacturers), be wary. Us here at Howling Dog are staying away from fleece padding for the reasons stated above! We use closed cell padding (foam wrapped in a rip-stop shell) on the majority of our harnesses. This padding has been tested and used for many years on top racing sled dogs. And what works for top canine athletes will work for all the other dogs out there. In the long run you will be better off investing in a harness with good quality padding, rather than keep spending money on harnesses, which are inferior. Unlike 25 years ago, the selection of harnesses on the market is bigger, so take your time, investigate and choose a harness with proper padding (such as our Standard Harness or our Light Weight Harness).

EQUIPMENT TIP: The fact about fleece booties

FleeceBootieGrayHere is a piece of equipment advice for you that only comes after many years of experience working with sled dogs, and will save you money in the long run.

Booties made out of fleece have been the most popular booties on the market for many years. They were the first bootie I ever used on my own dogs in Alaska over 20 years ago. This was before tougher/better booties came along. I did not use booties on my race dogs on a regular basis, only when a foot injury (such as cracked pad) occurred. And let me tell you, I was always so frustrated after each run while taking booties off – that was presuming the bootie was still on the dog’s foot, quite often the bootie would fly off right away. Fleece (even heavyweight polyester fleece) will quite often get holes in it from the dog’s nails even after a short run. And as a result, the bootie would fill with snow, which formed ice balls and it would quite often make the foot injury even worse. And on occasion the bootie filled with snow would freeze to the dog’s foot, making it very painful for the dog when it was taken off. Even if you don’t get holes in your fleece booties right away, you will after couple more runs, guaranteed. And forget about using fleece booties on a hard surface! Even though fleece booties are quite often the cheapest ones on the market (and quite often they are offered by new/inexperienced manufacturers), be wary. In the long run you will be better off investing in a good quality durable bootie, rather than keep spending money on booties, which won’t last. Unlike 20 years ago, the selection of booties on the market is huge, so take your time, investigate and choose the proper bootie. Perhaps our Protector Bootie will be the one. 😉

EQUIPMENT TIP: What collars to stay away from

CollarWithPlasticThis is a piece of equipment advice which will significantly increase the safety of your dog.

There are so many collars out there, which feature a plastic buckle (and on occasion even a plastic slider). Those are the most common collars on the pet market. And if you look at your regular “Fido”, this is the type of a collar he will be most likely wearing. But there is a reason why you won’t see such collars on the dogs of professional mushers. The reason is: PLASTIC BREAKS! Yes, a plastic buckle is the weakest link on a collar. It is a huge safety hazard, as a dog who is attached by such collar that all of the sudden pulls/jerks, can break such buckle easily (especially in below freezing temperatures). Plastic buckle is also prone to chewing, will get banged up easily and it will on occasion lose its flexibility over time. Not to mention that it can open accidentally just by bumping into something.

Even though collars with plastic buckles are the most common ones on the pet market (and quite often they are used and recommended by inexperienced dog owners due to the fact that they are easy to put on and take off), be wary. Us here at Howling Dog are staying away from plastic collar hardware for the reasons stated above! We never used plastic buckles or any other plastic components on our collars and we never will. Check out our Standard Collar or our Padded Collar and see a reliable and professionally designed collar for yourself. And STAY AWAY FROM PLASTIC! 😉

Disclaimer: Our LED Collar features a plastic buckle for easy put-on, easy take-off. However, we do not recommend to use this collar as a main collar. A leash (a neckline) should not be clipped to the LED Collar. This collar is an addition to a regular collar.