harness vs. collar

Harness vs. Collar: Keep Your Dog From Walking You With the Right Tools for the Job


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Whether you're walking your dog or he's walking you, keeping your dog fit and manageable starts with daily walks. Taking your dog on a walk might not seem like the most exciting proposition, given that many of us have to deal with constant pulling and a halting pace that would make even grandma seem fast. Still, daily walks help burn all of that energy off, leaving your pup much better suited to lounging around the house with you. When it comes down to the tools of the trade, you've got a harness vs. collar to choose from.

Fortunately, dog owners have options these days and you can always find something perfect for your pooch. You can choose between a variety of dog collars or a harness for Fido's daily walks, but which is better? Collars and harnesses both have their own sets of pros and cons, and it pays to do the research to see which might suit you and your pup better. There's also nothing wrong with keeping one of each around! Here are the pros and cons of each to help you find the perfect collar or harness for your pooch.

Benefits of Dog Harnesses

harness vs. collar dog wearing harness

Dog harnesses fit around your dog's neck and chest, equally distributing the force from the leash if they tend to pull. If you are not sure how to choose a harness, take your dog's measurements of their chest and neck, which should give you an idea of what size your dog will need. Your dog's front legs will go into the harness, and it will buckle around their chest. There are multiple types that come in both front clip harnesses and back-clip harnesses; no-pull harnesses will have a D-ring as the leash attachment.

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Some of the benefits of dog harnesses are:

  • Better control of your large dog while walking
  • Protects your dog's trachea if  your dog pulls hard on the leash
  • Stop escape artists from slipping their collars
  • Keeps the leash from getting between the dog's legs
  • Helps puppies learn proper leash walking
  • Front-clip harnesses limit pulling
  • Easier on older dogs that need spinal support
  • Helps dogs with tracheal collapse
  • Prevents injury in small dogs
  • Better fit for brachycephalic breeds, like pugs and french bulldogs

Cons of Dog Harnesses

While there are many pros to using a dog harness, there are a few cons as well. Consider the following when deciding to use a harness:

  • It may be more difficult to use with larger dog breeds
  • If the harness does not fit properly on your dog's body, they can escape
  • Harnesses can be bulky and hot in warmer weather
  • Back-clip harnesses can encourage a dog to pull, defeating the purpose of not using a collar
  • There is not a place for your dog's identification tags on most harnesses
  • Harnesses that are too tight can be physically painful for your pup

Benefits of Dog Collars

harnesses vs. collars dog wearing collar

RELATED: Take Your Tiny Dog on a Walk With These Small Dog Harnesses

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Dog collars are the more traditional option for your dog. There are many different types of collars. Some types of dog collars are used as training tools like prong collars and slip collars, while others are more decorative. For example, a martingale collar is a combination of a slip collar and a regular collar and is best for pups whose heads and necks are the same size. However, the most common kind of collar is a flat collar.

  • Natural spot for id tags and rabies tag
  • Collars do not need a lot of strength to control your dog
  • Collars are good for beginning dog training
  • Most dog trainers recommend starting leash training with a flat collar
  • Collars are easy to put on and can be swapped out seasonally

Cons of Dog Collars 

Collars may be easier to put on, but they still have some cons. Some of the downsides to collars are:

  • Not safe for dogs with respiratory problems
  • Can cause neck injuries like a collapsing trachea
  • Dogs with small heads like Whippets and Greyhounds can easily slip collars.
  • Not comfortable for dogs with back pain and other injuries
  • Too tight of a collar can cause pain. Too loose, and your dog can escape

If your dog is not responding well to a harness or a collar, you can also use a halter or headcollar. These gentle leader-type halters are best for puppy training and getting dogs used to having something on their faces and necks. Do not use choke collars. They can harm your pooch's neck and are not safe.

Do you use a harness or a collar for your dog? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page! 

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READ MORE: Glow in the Dark Dog Collars Are the Best Way To See (and Be Seen) On Evening Walks

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