Dog Harnesses vs. Dog Collars

  • 02/03/2018

Whether your dog walks on a collar or a harness is largely a matter of personal preference for most people. However, many people do not know the reasons that a harness may be better for their dog. While harnesses and collars both have pros and cons, harnesses have some benefits that keep them out ahead of a plain old collar.


There are three major benefits that collars have over harnesses:

●      Ease of use

●      Better place for tags

●      Some dogs prefer them

However, there are many more reasons that collars are less than ideal:

●      Can cause choking

●      Can cause long-term back and neck damage

●      May damage thyroid

●      Can cause increased intraocular pressure

●      May be easier to get out of

Most of these concerns are related to dogs pulling on the collar, which may lead some people to believe that they do not apply to their dog. However, even a well-behaved dog can occasionally see something that they want to take off after. Other things happen, too, like either dog or human tripping and suddenly yanking hard on the collar. It is best to assume that a dog with a leash attached to a collar may be yanked on at least occasionally.

Harnesses have many benefits over collars:

●      Do not cause choking

●      Do not put strain on back and neck

●      Put no pressure on the thyroid

●      Do not cause increased intraocular pressure

●      Certain types are much more secure than collars

The main downside of harnesses is that some dogs (and people) do not like them. There is also the possibility that dogs may pull more on a back-clip (traditional) harness. However, this can be prevented by choosing a front-clip style harness that turns the dog toward you if they pull.

Harnesses are also the best way to secure your dog in the car if he or she does not ride in a crate. Safety harnesses made for this purpose are widely available, and most of them are built to also be used as walking harnesses. While a vehicle safety harness or a secure crate is the safest way to transport your dog, any harness is better than tying your dog in using a collar.

Dogs who do not like harnesses may be dogs who do not like things on their body in general or dogs who have had bad experiences with harnesses, such as rubbing or getting pinched. Either way, your dog can learn to at least tolerate a harness if you pair it with good things. Slowly introduce your dog to the harness, even just touching them with it at first if necessary. Use treats or play to reward your dog for allowing this. Gradually increase what you ask of your dog until he or she wears it willingly.

Collars are simpler and easier than harnesses, and they may be the best place to keep tags. However, attaching a leash to your dog's neck is less than ideal from a safety perspective. For this reason, harnesses are usually the best option when it comes to dog walking equipment.

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