The Very Best Walking Gear for Your JRT

a Jack Russell Terrier in a red harness

One of the best parts of bringing home a new pet is buying the supplies. Are you with me? But you already know that not just any collar will do. And as for leashes? Well, the choices are endless.

But among all those choices are some definite do’s and don’ts.

So, what’s the best kind of walking gear for your JRT? Let’s have a look.

Collar or Harness?

If you walk into a pet store, the first thing you’ll notice is that there are a lot of collars. There are choke collars, flat collars, prong collars, and oh-so-many different kinds of harnesses. It’s important to get the right collar or harness for your dog, not only so that you can both enjoy your walkies, but also so that your little friend will be safe.

Jacks have two distinct special needs. First, they’re small — though their big personality might make you forget that fact now and then. But the truth is, a collar made for a big dog can injure a small dog. Badly. And that’s the last thing you want.

At the same time, Jacks are, as you no doubt have noticed, spirited. They may unexpectedly lunge after other dogs, small animals, or blowing paper bags. They may pull as well. So you need to be able to keep them under control.

The benefits of a harness

Although a circular collar is great for at home or at the dog park, many small dog owners prefer a harness for walking. A harness allows you to control your Jack’s torso without putting pressure on his or her neck. And, considering small dogs are prone to tracheal collapse, a harness may well be the best choice for your Jack.


It goes without saying that if you do choose a collar, choke collars and pinch collars should be right out for your small friend, as they can cause serious, serious injury.

Some harnesses allow you to clip your dog’s leash onto the back, or at the chest. Happy Jack Russell recommends a harness that clips in front, as when you pull the leash, your Jack ends up facing you instead of whatever he or she was lunging at. On the other hand, back-clipping harnesses are generally easier to use.

Harness materials

You can find a harness in many different materials. Which one will work best for you? That may be a matter of preference. Consider the following:

  • Leather and webbing give stricter control, but may be less comfortable
  • Neoprene is very comfortable, but not as strict
  • Plastic and vinyl are similar to leather, but may be both less comfortable and less durable

You should also consider design. Specifically:

  • Is it easy and intuitive to operate?
  • Can you easily put it onto an excited, wriggling doggo?
  • Are the fasteners easy to open and close?
  • Does the harness hold well?

It may take some experimentation, but ultimately you’ll find the harness that works best for you and your Jack.

Which Leash?


Image CC BY 2.0 by Paris & Ponce & Le Maison Rouge, via Flickr

Just like collars and harnesses, there are a bewildering number of leash types. There are long leads and short ones, retractables, and leashes made from every sort of material, from metal chain to nylon webbing to leather and plastic.

Again, the leash you’re going to want is strong. But even though a Jack will need function over fashion, it doesn’t mean you can’t get something cute as well.

Which material?

Many obedience classes recommend a leather leash, as they claim it’s easier on the hands than one made from a synthetic material. This may be true, however, if you object to leather, there’s no reason not to try something made from nylon, canvas, or another material.

I, personally, prefer leashes made from nylon webbing. They’re strong, durable, and come in a range of cute colors and designs.

Retractable or no?

Many small dog owners like a retractable leash, and there are some very high-tech and sophisticated designs out there.

Some experts, however, warn against retractable leashes because of the risk of injuries to both owner and pet. Some also say that a retractable leash can make it harder to teach your dog to politely walk on a leash. Specifically, they learn that pulling on the leash results in more freedom.

Questions of Style

Ahhhh now we're getting to it. Now that you've figured out the “function” part of your gear, it's time to think about fashion.

Is your Jack a hiking buddy? If so, then you might want to check out mountain-climbing inspired gear. Padded harnesses made from tough ripstop, maybe with detachable pockets so your Jack can tote his or her own gear?

Or is your Jack a City Pup? In that case, maybe a sophisticated leather halter with some subtle bling might suit.

This is the fun part, in my opinion. So enjoy it!

What’s Your Favorite Gear?

Ultimately, the best walking gear is the gear that works best for you and your pup. Do you have a favorite? We’d love to hear about it!

Featured Image CC0 by Jade87, via Pixabay