A Dog Harness Or Collar: Which Is Better For Your Pup?

A Dog Harness Or Collar: Which Is Better For Your Pup?

By Evan Williams, Hannah Loskamp

There are many pros and cons to both dog collars and dog harnesses, and there is a lot to consider when taking your pooch on his daily walk. Is a collar or harness better and what are the pros and cons?

Is a harness or collar better for a dog? © 123RF / Alexeitm

Choosing between a harness or collar for your dog can be a difficult decision, and one that should be made with care.

While both are safe bets and allow you to attach a leash when you’re out and about, there are a number of pros and cons to consider before making a decision.

Of course, your dog’s weight, height, and personality should play a crucial role in your decision between a dog harness or collar. You need to get to know your dog before you can make any lasting decision, as the answer should – to a degree – be based on the pooch himself.

Pug being terrorized by a toddler in the cutest way!
Pug being terrorized by a toddler in the cutest way!

In this dog handlerwe walk you through the debate between dog collars and harnesses and everything you should know before making a decision.

Difference between dog harness and collar

A dog collar meant to be worn around the neck is often compared to the simple harness. It makes sense: these two devices are used for pretty much the same purpose, but there are some key differences that need to be addressed if you want to be a true collar or harness expert.

Here are the main differences between dog harnesses and collars:

  • The collar provides an obvious and easy place for a name tag with contact information.
  • Dog collars are generally more comfortable for your pooch, although this depends somewhat on the dog’s personal preferences.
  • Collars are placed around the neck, making them much easier to adjust to the dog’s neck size. Meanwhile, straps can be a more difficult fit.
  • Harnesses give the dog more freedom of movement, especially around the neck.

Ultimately, harnesses provide a more secure and controlled attachment to your leash, while collars are slightly more convenient and easier to attach.

Dog collars: the pros and cons

Because the collar sits around a dog’s neck, it’s important to know what you’re doing if you choose to go down this route. This is one of the most sensitive areas of a dog’s body, so there are a few things to consider.

Here are the pros and cons of a dog collar.

There is a wide range of dog collars, from fashionable to practical.

There is a wide range of dog collars, from fashionable to practical. © 123RF / Terex

Advantages of collars for dogs

When used correctly, collars offer a variety of benefits when walking your dog. In particular, collars are perfect for dogs that are well exercised and free to roam the park.

1. Education: You should always train your dog with a leash attached to a collar, not a harness. With a collar, the dog is easier to influence and it learns much faster.

2. Better communication: Using a collar allows for far better communication between the owner and the dog. As a result, this strengthens and deepens the bond and trust between the duo.

3. More freedom of movement: By wearing a collar, dogs have much more freedom of movement and are therefore less physically restricted.

Disadvantages of collars for dogs

The most important thing to remember about collars is that they can be seriously hazardous to a dog’s health if not used properly. Collars also make it easier for the dog to bite on the leash.

1. Health consequences: If you put too much pressure on the neck while walking, it can cause shortness of breath as the collar restricts the dog’s airflow. In addition, collars can reduce the blood supply to the brain and have long-term consequences. Don’t put the collar on too long or too tightly, and if your dog starts coughing or wheezing, take it off immediately.

2. Lack of security: Dogs can easily wriggle out of a collar, especially since you don’t want it to be too tight around your neck. This factor in particular means that a collar is unsuitable for use in the car.

Warning: Never pull a dog’s collar. This can restrict their airflow and also injure their neck.

Dog harnesses: the pros and cons

Dog harnesses are significantly safer than dog collars as they are not placed around the pooch’s neck where they could cause choking. That being said, they’re not a perfect choice.

Here are the pros and cons of a harness for your dog.

Sometimes it's a good idea for a dog to wear both a harness and a collar.

Sometimes it’s a good idea for a dog to wear both a harness and a collar. © 123rf / Pixelsaway

Benefits of harnesses for dogs

Harnesses are safer and less restrictive as they don’t fit around a dog’s neck. They also provoke less fear and are therefore more recommended for smaller, fidgety or anxious dogs.

1. Health Benefits: A harness distributes the pressure more evenly over the dog’s body, so that the dog’s neck and throat are protected.

2. Control: It is easier to control a dog wearing a harness. Therefore, harnesses are better suited for dogs that pull on the leash and try to wriggle out of collars.

3. Security: The harness is much safer for the dog when you pull on it as it is not placed around the pet’s neck. While you should never snatch, it’s a lot easier to get your dog to safety if you’re in a dangerous situation.

4. Driving with a harness: If you take your dog with you in the car, you can use a harness to safely secure your dog. Again, a collar could cause strangulation if something goes wrong when the dog is in the car.

Disadvantages of harnesses for dogs

Well, yes, harnesses are safer than collars in many ways. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect though, as they do have a few downsides to be aware of.

1. Bad communication: Collars are much better for communication than harnesses. This can present an obstacle to training and potentially affect the quality of communication that takes place between dog and owner. A leash must be able to guide a dog’s movement in training, so it is better to use a collar for this function.

2. Not suitable for all breeds: Harnesses are often not suitable for very small dog breeds, as many of them can only be adjusted around the stomach. This means a much smaller dog with a narrow chest may not fit properly in a harness.

Hot Tip: It’s not a bad idea to own both a collar and a harness as they can serve different purposes. A collar is certainly better for training, but a harness is preferable for long car rides and anxious dogs.

What you should consider when buying dog harnesses and collars

Your dog harness or collar is one of the most important dog items.

Your dog harness or collar is one of the most important dog items. © Ayla Verschueren / Unsplash

As we have discussed, there are many pros and cons to both dog harnesses and collars. Once you’ve made a decision, likely based on your dog’s size and preferences, it’s time to head into the wild and make a purchase.

Here are some tips and tricks for buying dog collars and harnesses:

  • Dog collars:
    • The closing point must be secure and strong
    • Try using wider collars as they will be more comfortable for your pooch
    • Make sure it is adjustable as your dog may change size or preferences
  • Dog Harnesses:
    • Shoulders and armpits should not be pinched by the straps
    • The harness must not slip towards the dog’s head
    • You should never buy a harness without first fitting it to your dog
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Be sure to take your dog to the pet store when you pick up a collar or harness. Try it on the dog and make sure your pooch is comfortable before you buy it.

Dog harness or collar? Well it depends on your pooch

When you’re taking your perfect pooch for a nice long walk, you want them to be comfortable, happy, and easy to control. This is where the dog harness versus collar debate comes in, as your choice will determine how happy and controllable your dog is.

When training, a dog should wear a collar, but for long walks or dogs struggling with anxiety, a harness is more appropriate. As always, the most important thing is that you know your dog really well and make a decision based on their personality and preferences.

Cover photo: 123RF / Alexeitm

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