Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stunning drawing of my assistance dog mobility harness plans!

10 months 2 weeks 1 day old

So, I'm lying in bed right now at 20 to 4 in the middle of the night on my laptop writing this. I've been fiddling with designs for a heavy duty mobility harness, which I wouldn't consider manufacturing for a good little while - if ever. Having said that, it would be nice to have it on the market and have that option.......

Anyway, I thought my absolutely stunning artwork deserved to be shared with the world at large. Do keep in mind that I did this on my laptop in complete darkness on a trackpad!

My plan for a mobility harness. It would be a Y chested harness, with
padded nylon straps, a padded cordura saddle, D rings for a foam or
padded webbing handle, and a static handle for balance and support.
It would have the additional belly strap that sits just behind the chest
for additional stability. It would also have a padded cordura chest plate,
for safer more comfortable pulling. This harness could feasibly be used
for limited wheelchair pulling.

I think the smile is quite delightful! It really did come out quite horse like, but I was aiming for a golden retriever, lol.

The only Y chest mobility harness I know of is the Bridgeport harness, which has a reasonable amount of negative feedback. I'd really like to give another option, and if I can make it a reasonably cheap harness, that would give another cheaper option (unlike the nearly $400 Bold Lead harness, plus $50+ for postage to Australia). The only thing I am stuck on as part of the design is what to make the static handle out of. At the moment I am thinking aluminium would be easiest, but I would have to get it custom fabricated for me and I have absolutely no idea how expensive that type of thing is. The other possibility is plastic, and that has more possibilities perhaps - I don't know whether it would need fabricating in one piece or whether it could be somehow made into that shape with three bits..... So as you can see it would be a more complicated design than the others I am planning. It could possibly be the most popular though.

Anyway, while I am writing a fairly frivolous post anyway, I may as well say that I actually have a confession to make. I've been spying on you. Blogger comes equipped with some basic monitoring software to let you know who is visiting your site, but I've been using some more advanced stuff for the last couple of months. They just updated their software and it has made me realise I actually have quite a few regular readers from all over the place.

Mostly I find this revelation really nice. I just wish you would all come out of the woodwork and say hello. Some of you out there are reading for months, often, and just keep to yourselves! I am glad you enjoy reading my ramblings and looking at horrible drawings of dorses (dog/horse), but Knightley really likes it when I pass on hugs from his fan club, so don't be shy.

Ooops just dozed off for a bit there. I actually have more success sleeping sitting up than lying down these days, I think it's just a less painful position.

Anyway, time to try sleeping properly again! Hope you enjoyed the dorse, and I hope you don't mind a bit of spying.... it helps me produce a better blog.


  1. Can't wait to see what you come up with. I do use Bold Lead Designs, and it is a well made harness. I bypassed Bridgeport because of all the bad reviews by users. Circle E had good reviews, but when I was trying to decide between that one and Bold Lead--his web site was down due to a divorce according to the harness maker himself. Now I can't even find their website at all.

    Here is a blog that first directed me to Bold Lead:

    Her link doesn't go to circle e though.

    1. Yeah, it's a shame Bridgeport gets the bad reviews, as it's so affordable. I'll be doing a vest like the one Knightley wears now (without a static handle) first, as Knightley is too young to take any weight anyway. I do think it would be nice to have a proper nylon mobility harness on the market though, but there are lots of design questions.

      Thanks for the link, if I do end up making a mobility harness I need to read as much as I can about what people like and dislike!

  2. Maybe look into small diameter PVC pipe, at least for prototype harness? It doesn't stand up super well to weather (at least, not the really cheap stuff.. they do make more expensive tougher stuff) but it's light and easy to cut/attach into various shapes.
    I read via google reader, so I don't think I show up on your stats very often, but I'm your (probably only) Linux using reader ;)

    1. I've thought of PVC pipe... the problem comes in how to fix it to the saddle in a secure, non-wobbling kind of way. I was thinking if I did PVC I would wrap it in webbing to give it a better feel. I've been peering at photos of the Bold Lead/Circle E/Bridgeport/LDS Harnesses, trying to get ideas.

      I can still see people when they use google reader. And looking back two months I had 6 individual linux readers, but only one repeat offender. :P I used to be a linux user, until I started playing World of Warcraft many years ago! It was only made for windows and I got sick of having a duel boot system. I actually met my husband on WoW, so giving up linux for WoW was a reasonable exchange. Now I am just too slack to leave windows again.... Oh, and I don't play WoW anymore. It did its job in finding hubby!

  3. Hi Lyssa, I have only just come across your blog while looking through the Internet so I haven't had time to read everything you have written yet but I wanted to tell you how glad I was to discover you . I myself have recently started training my own dog to be a certified assistance dog. I live in Adelaide and I am attempting to train a dog for my
    son who is now 19 years old but when he was 12 years old he suffered an acquired brain injury in a quad bike accident. Six months ago I adopted a 2 year old bull Arab x lab from a rescue organization and immediately started training him . His name is Polar Bear and I am really pleased with the way he is going. I am finding that my main problem in training is the lack of any sort of information that is given re training your own assistance dog. I have contacted different organizations but no one is willing to give information or even discuss it. I have been trying to find a trainer that has the qualification to train a dog for public access but these trainers are no where to be found. My question is how can a dog pass a public access test when he is not allowed into public places and no one has the qualifications to train him in theses areas. Anyway I am so glad I found someone else attempting the same ad myself I thought I might be the only one .

    1. Hi Robyn! There aren't many of us, it's true. Especially in Australia! My basic training has all come from Sue Ailsby's Training Levels, but finding out about assistance dog training techniques has come from the Yahoo group assistance-dogs, the Teamwork DVDs (books are good too), some great Youtube vids, and the videos you can pay to view on clickertraining.com. Organisations aren't going to help or even know anything about training your own half the time. As for dog trainers that could help you, I would see what Delta Society dog trainers you have in your area, they are usually very well qualified and have some clue when it comes to training assistance dogs. You can also get some online lessons with some very good trainers. If you're interested let me know and I'll put you onto some people.

      As for public access training, start with places your dog can go but are similar to places he would work in. Like markets, outdoor fresh food places, pet stores and so on. Work on getting his public behaviour really good there. Once that is looking great, then start asking some local shops for permission to go in briefly. While you don't have legal rights for access, if the business decides to grant you access you can go in. Pick times when they're not likely to be busy. Slowly work on higher stress places and busier times. Not everywhere will say yes, but quite a few will. I've found places like Bunnings, big office stores etc are really good for training. You can't do restaurants until you have qualified, but try to find an outdoor cafe where dogs are allowed so he can practice down stays under tables. My local big shopping mall has been fine with me training there too, although we had very very short visits at first.

      If you have been given permission to train in a place you owe it to them to have your dog behave perfectly. If there are any problems at all, get out pronto and make sure you do remedial training. The best way to ensure good behaviour is to slowly increase your time over every visit, and make sure every visit is successful so he learns to never misbehave while 'working'. I don't know whether you can have your son with you while you are training but that may help when asking for permission to train - or just say you are the dogs trainer.

      It is frustrating that there isn't more support for owner trainers, and IMO it may well lead to slacker standards which I am sure the vast majority of us don't want. It would be so good if there was an owner trainer assistance dog association in Australia or something like that. Instead we are all divided and struggling on by ourselves. Anyway, if you have any questions you think I may be able to help with please do ask, I've done a lot of research about dog training and assistance dog training in particular. I hope Polar Bear continues to learn in leaps and bounds and will be a great friend for your son.

  4. I also read via Google Reader but love your blog!

    1. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy :) I'll tell Knightley we're loved!

  5. Ik you wrote this a while back, but in case you haven't figured out a handle yet, I made my own version of the BLD harness, for my saddle I used sheepskin with canvas "duck cloth" on top, as a kind of harness pad, then I used a gentle leader harness for the "skeleton" of the harness, and attached a bridge handle of aluminum. The aluminum was super easy to work with. I cut it with a regular hack saw, and used a drill to drill the holes to attach it to the nylon using a washer, bolt, and wing nut. I have found spring loaded plunger pins and will use them to make the handle be able to fold down. Altogether, my materials cost me about 60 USD and took a few hours to put together.