If you’re a dog owner, having the right tools to manage your pup’s safety and comfort while out on walks is essential. As popular as collars are for dogs, harnesses may be a better choice in many cases. While each tool has its benefits, there are certain scenarios where one or the other might prove to be more suitable than the other. In this blog post, we’ll help you understand when it might make sense to use a collar or a harness for your four-legged friend, so you can maximize their safety, health and enjoyment while taking them out for walks around town.
The Pros and Cons of Dog Collars
Dog collars have been commonly used by pet owners for a long time. Although they come with their own sets of advantages, they also have a few drawbacks. Some advantages of dog collars include:
- They provide a sense of security, as they can be used to attach identification tags, making it easier for lost dogs to be returned to their owners.
- Reflective or lighted collars can make your dog more visible.
- A dog collar can provide better control of a pet, as it allows the owner to maintain a firm grip on the animal.
- Collars can be used as a supportive tool for training, since it allows the owner to give corrections in the form of verbal cues or physical tugs.
The use of dog collars can have some disadvantages, too.
- A collar that is too tight can cause discomfort and even injury to the animal.
- Some collars can be easily snagged on objects, leading the dog to get stuck and potentially causing injury.
- Collars may can lead to neck trauma or back pain for the dog.
- Some dog breeds may be able to easily slip out of collars.
Choosing the Right Dog Collar
When selecting a dog collar, consider your dog and its training level. Flat collars are a popular choice—and are often used for puppy training. They’re also a great choice if your dog walks nicely on leash. A martingale collar, sometimes called a slip collar, is designed to tighten if the dog pulls, without choking them. Breakaway collars are designed to release if the dog pulls hard, preventing injury. Choke collars and prong collars can cause neck injury, pain and even strangulation.
Dog collars should fit your dog, and neither be too tight nor too loose. The general rule of thumb for flat dog collars is that you should be able to fit one to two fingers between the collar and the dog’s skin. Dog collars should be inspected regularly to ensure they are not rubbing the dog’s fur, causing hair loss or abrasions. With puppies, check the dog collar’s fit regularly and adjust it as the puppy grows.
The Pros and Cons of Dog Harnesses
Dog harnesses are one of the most popular options for dog owners when it comes to walking and exercising their pets. Harnesses come in a variety of designs, sizes, and materials.
Harnesses offer many advantages, including:
- They give the owner greater control over the dog’s movements.
- Because they distribute pressure evenly across the dog’s torso rather than just around the neck and throat, they are less likely to cause neck or back injuries.
- Dogs are less likely to slip out of or escape from harnesses.
- Some harnesses can assist with leash training and discourage pulling.
- Vest harnesses can provide extra visibility with bright collars or reflective material.
Some disadvantages of dog harnesses include:
- Harnesses can be difficult to put on and take off.
- Some harnesses are not adjustable to fit certain breeds or sizes, causing them to rub or irritate the dog’s skin.
- Harnesses may be uncomfortable for some dogs.
- Some harnesses encourage pulling.
When selecting a harness for your dog, consider your dog’s body type and level of training. Some types of harnesses available include:
- No-pull harnesses have a clip at the back that distributes pressure evenly when pulled to discourage tugging.
- Step-in harnesses consist of straps between the legs and around the chest that dogs can easily “step into” for an effortless way to put them on.
- Front-clip harnesses attach in the front and allow owners to steer their dog using gentle pressure on the leash.
Keep in mind that many traditional harnesses with a clip on the back may encourage a dog to pull. While these might be suitable for smaller dog breeds, they may make dog walking difficult for large breeds that haven’t been trained to walk on leash.
When fitting a harness on your dog, the general rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit one to two fingers between the harness and your dog’s skin.
The Perfect Fit for You and Your Dog
Both dog collars and harnesses can aid in safe, enjoyable dog walks. Whether you choose a collar or harness often depends on your dog’s body type, level of training and personal preference. With either, though, ensuring a good fit is important. Also, inspect the collar or harness regularly and make sure that it’s not causing the dog to lose fur or abrasions. If you have questions about your dog collar or harness, please ask when you visit us.