Harness vs. Collar: What’s Best for Your Dog

collar, harness, dogs, walking, pulling

“The walk” is often the main event in a dog’s day. Unfortunately, it’s just as often the biggest hassle of yours. If your dog pulls, wiggles or resists keeping up with your pace, you may come to dread the whole exercise. Using the right collar or harness can make all the difference.

Collar Pros

Most people are familiar with the flat collar, made of cloth or leather and closed with a clasp or buckle. It’s ideal for canine identification tags, but it’s not always the best option for walking.

If your dog doesn’t pull on walks and isn’t a breed known for breathing problems, a flat collar is a fine option. Some dogs do not like the way a harness feels and prefer to wear a flat collar.

Slip Collar

A martingale, or slip, collar is a variation on a flat collar. It has the same look and shape of a flat collar. However, it features a section that gently becomes flush with your dog’s neck when he pulls or moves backwards.

The slight pressure acts as a correction while preventing your dog from slipping out of his collar. It is a good option for dogs with thick necks, like bulldogs or pit bulls, or breeds with little difference in size between their head and necks.

Head Collar

A head collar is a third alternative, ideal for serious pullers or dogs that outweigh and therefore overpower you on a walk. They sit at the base of the head and wrap around the muzzle with a leash attached under the chin.

It allows you to direct the dog’s attention when he pulls away without putting strain on his throat or building the neck and back muscles, which would only make him better at pulling.

Head collars can be controversial. Partaking in more research before making a decision is encouraged.

Cons

Although collars are convenient for ID tags, they can have a negative impact on some dogs. For example, pulling in a collar can increase the probability of a neck injury.

They are also not ideal for training purposes, since they offer less control.

Harness Pros

Any dogs with flat muzzles, including pugs or bulldogs, have predispositions to health issues with the throat or spine. These breeds are best served by a harness. Back-attaching harnesses work well for these dogs, as the leash attachment on the back applies less pressure during correction.

A harness is also ideal for dogs with respiratory issues or neck concerns. In a harness, the pulling or corrections do not put pressure directly on the neck. Likewise, a harness can aid dogs who have difficulties getting up  by providing lift assistance.

Harnesses offer more control, which make them ideal for training. They discourage pulling since they do not allow Fido to gain forward movement, which is great for dogs who get distracted easily.

For larger dogs with pulling issues, a front-attaching harness is preferred. The leash correction coming from the front gives you more control.

The attachment is between the legs and tightens when pulled. It is also less likely to come off accidentally since it wraps around the dogs body.

Harness Cons

Although harnesses do not harm your dog, some dogs find them to be uncomfortable. Walking your dog on a harness as early as possible improves the chances that your pup will be willing to cooperate.

Certain types of harnesses have also been found to be less effective. For example, a back-clip is generally the most comfortable but it does not offer much control for a dog that likes to pull.

Maybe you like the control provided by a harness, but you also like how easy it is to place ID tags on a collar. Luckily, you can have both! You can keep Fido’s collar on, with the ID tags attached, and add the harness when you and Fido go for a walk.

Hopefully we have been able to help clarify the pros and cons that come with a collar or harness so you can pick the right tool for your canine companion. For more doggy tips and canine entertainment, follow NuVet Labs on Facebook.