By Guest Contributor, Henrik Nielsen
Whether you work closely with a patrol dog, depend on a canine companion, or are simply planning on taking your favorite pooch along on an outdoor journey, tactical dog gear can keep your hound safe and secure.
Tactical harnesses, vests, collars, and leashes can protect your K9 from dangers, help you to control or maintain them, serve as a means for carrying gear and supplies, and even don important placards, all while withstanding extraordinary wear and tear.
In this article, we'll explore all the various types, practical uses for, and features of tactical dog gear.
What is Tactical Dog Gear?
Tactical dog gear is designed for various types of professional and recreational tactical situations. In fact, it is typically used by military, police, rescue, and service dogs because of its high quality and durability. The vests, harnesses, and collars are made from durable water-proof materials and feature reinforced handles and metal leash attachments that allow you to restrain or even carry your dog.
Many vests and harnesses feature MOLLE (Module Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing systems. These military-style nylon straps allow you to strap on various pouches, accessories, and credential patches. Detachable accessories ensure your ability to customize and lighten your dog's load.
Common colors for tactical dog gear include Ranger green, Coyote Brown, and black. In many tactical professions, it is important to blend in or stay concealed. However, highly visible orange, yellow, and reds are common colorways for hunting and companion dogs.
Whats Special About It?
Tactical dog gear can be used for professional, recreational, and even training purposes. It is generally made from thick, waterproof materials such as nylon and have quality features such as metal v-rings, military-grade MOLLE, and reinforced handles.
Tactical dog gear is designed to last for years without showing signs of wear or tear.
Types of Gear
Harnesses and Vests
Tactical dog vests and harnesses consist of a sheath of nylon fabric that is worn over a dog's back. Typically, adjustable straps extend over a dog's chest and stomach to keep the fabric in place. Most feature MOLLE webbing, multiple leash connections, and handles.
There are multiple benefits to dressing your canine in a tactical vest or harness. For one, they are extremely functional and help you control your dog without putting any direct dress on its neck. They also protect your dog and can serve as a sort of Thundershirt for anxious or easily startled dogs. Tactical vests can even be weighted to provide gentle pressure.
Tactical collars look and feel like traditional dog collars but provide extra protection in extreme environments. Sturdy construction prevents identification from coming loose during rugged expeditions, and padded handles ensure you never have to struggle to maintain control when holding your dog. Finally, Velcro patches allow you to attach identification, placards, and reflective safety bands.
If you're planning on taking your canine out in public, it's important to select a well-constructed, durable lead. Military-grade fabrics keep your dog safe and under control. What's more, special features, such as control loops and quick-release buckles ensure the successful completion of every mission. Powerful hunting and service dogs can pull or lunge with great force. The combination of a control handle and tactical leash can help absorb the shock of unexpected thrusts and ensure your dog is cooperating and under control.
While military and service dogs require durable equipment to perform vital jobs, ordinary pups can benefit from specialty gear too. From enhanced training sessions to improved obedience, tactical dog gear can enhance your relationship with your dog and looks great too.
What to Look For
The vast majority of tactical dog gear is made from nylon. 1000D nylon and nylon webbing are popular choices because of their resistance to tears and abrasions. Many manufacturers make note of the use of ballistic or military-grade fabrics. Double-layered stitching helps reinforce the material and any external components. Meanwhile, steel or durable plastic accessories are favored. Many tactical pieces also include layers of EVA foam padding to prevent chaffing and discomfort during long work days.
Wide, thick straps provide adequate protection. However, gear should be lightweight, flexible, and breathable so that it does not weigh down or wear on a canine.
Size & Fit
The vast majority of tactical dog gear is designed to fit large breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, and Doberman Pinschers. Adjustable straps allow you to tailor tactical gear for a more precise fit.
Still, it's imperative that you measure your dog before purchasing tactical equipment. When purchasing a tactical dog vest, you will need to calculate the distance from your dog's shoulders to their tail, the circumference or girth of their body just behind their front legs, their neck circumference, and the distance from the center of their chest to the point directly behind their shoulders.
Check out the American Kennel Club's "Breed Weight Chart" and this helpful video on sizing your dog before making a purchase.
One of the most popular features of tactical dog gear is MOLLE webbing. This modern military load-bearing system allows your pooch to carry its own food and supplies. What's more, it allows owners to customize their pets' carry-ons to optimize individual missions.
Other popular features include dual point control handles. These make it easy for you to hold your dog at any time. Police and military operatives depend on these handles during agitated training sessions and bite exercises. Meanwhile, they can also serve as a means for safely walking a dog in a public space.
Tactical harnesses and collars also typically feature metal V-rings that allow you to attach a tactical leash. Buckles on tactical dog gear are often made from high-quality polymers or metals. For the most part, they can withstand hundreds of pounds of pull before succumbing to the pressure. While a firm connection is key, quick-release fasteners allow you to easily remove gear in the event of an emergency.
Pay close attention to the material makeup and construction of dog tactical gear. It should be expected to perform adequately through rain, shine, sleet, and snow. What's more, it should perform like a second skin regardless of whether it's being trudged through thick brush or bludgeoning surf.
Tactical gear materials are often tested for their load-bearing properties. Most can withstand years of harsh elements, firm tugs, and extreme adventures without breaking down.
Every hardworking, dependable dog deserves to be just as protected and prepared as its owner. Help your dog look good and perform better by selecting them a reliable tactical vest, collar, and leash. Whether you're looking to dress your pooch for a part or simply want the most durable getup possible, tactical gear is designed to function well and last forever, stretching your dollar and your dog's safety and comfort to the max!
Henrik Nielsen is the owner of Tactical Sergeant in Sweden, a blog about tactical gear and training.