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Kit Your Dog Out in the Right Collar or Harness
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Kit Your Dog Out in the Right Collar or Harness

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Nov 14, 2022

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If your dating profile includes "must love dogs" in the mix, then walks are likely a significant component of your routine.

With new gadgets cropping up all the time, longtime dog fans and those new to having a canine friend might be curious about the best ways to control a dog during daily ambles.

There are more humane and broadly available options on the market today, and we explore the pros and cons to make life easier for you and your pup.

1

What are dog collars?

Black and white dog portrait wearing a blue collar Os Tartarouchos / Getty Images

Collars loop around the neck and are a simple way to ensure your dog always has ID in case they bound off and get lost.

You'll employ the traditional method to control a dog by attaching a leash to a flat collar. Traditional is only sometimes optimal, and collars come in varieties that can be inhumane.

If you're looking for something with no frills, we recommend a collar with a padded neck and a plastic buckle.

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2

The advantages of dog collars

cute brown dog looking up at the sky Photo by Reed Shepherd on Unsplash

Your dog may take to a collar more easily than to a harness. Comfortable collars can stay on all the time, unlike harnesses which are reserved for walks.

It's also more straightforward to train a dog using a collar than a harness, especially if you don't have as much strength.

Consider a training collar, which comes with the added advantage of a handle — they can be extremely useful.

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3

The disadvantages of dog collars

Happy yellow dog and his owner in the background Kerkez / Getty Images

Pulling and tightening a dog collar can be uncomfortable and put pressure on your pooch's windpipe, nerves, blood vessels, and thyroid. Dog collars increase eye pressure and can lead to a tracheal collapse. Tugging on a dog's collar can cause whiplash as well.

With choke collars, the name says it all. Imagine being gripped by the throat and having your circulation and air supply obstructed—not a pleasant thought, right? So you probably want to spare your canine bestie.

Choke collars are extra risky for small dogs, breeds with fragile necks, or stubborn dogs that respond abnormally to being choked and can worsen behavior.

Some martingale collars are fine for use and won't choke lil' buddy, but avoid pinch collars with painful-looking metal prongs or spikes attached to them.

In addition, electronic shock collars are legal in the United States but are banned in multiple countries because of concerns over animal abuse.

Safety should also be top of mind when you're walking your puppy, especially at night. We recommend a high-quality dog collar that will reflect light.

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4

Headcollars

Portrait of a dog with a head collar

You'll recognize the head collar if you've spent time around horses. They're also popular among dog owners and go around the dog's head and muzzle.

As the name implies, a head collar allows you to move the dog's head towards you to draw it away from an object.

Headcollars are effective and considerate, but your dog will need time to get used to one. Start with a gentle, no-pull halter for an optimal experience.

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5

What are dog harnesses?

white and brown jack russell terrier puppy on green grass field during daytime Photo by Dave Xu on Unsplash

Harnesses fit snugly but not tightly around the chest area and come in various sizes to suit different dogs—be sure to check the product instructions.

Measure your fur baby's neck and chest to guide your purchase because some harnesses cater to many sizes and can be adjusted to fit your dog.

Vest-style harnesses are best because they don't constrict doggie necks at all, and a harness with a front attachment can allow you to make eye contact with your dog and prevent pulling.

You'll want to look for one that's reflective, no trouble to put on, has durable buckles and straps, and blocks odors.

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6

The advantages of dog harnesses

man in black jacket and blue denim jeans walking with white and black short coated dog Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Harnesses distribute pressure over a bigger surface area, so they more efficiently stop your dog from pulling. They're much more difficult to slip out of, so there's less chance of Rufus running into traffic or harassing passersby.

With a handle built in, they're easier to control, too, particularly if you have a large or rambunctious breed and have to navigate tight sidewalks.

Dogs with narrow heads, such as greyhounds, require harnesses rather than collars. Flat-faced breeds like pugs also need harnesses because of their breathing issues, as do dogs with spinal risks or orthopedic conditions.

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7

The disadvantages of dog harnesses

golden retriever puppy sitting on the road during daytime Photo by Jordan Holmbeck on Unsplash

Depending on the type of harness you buy, putting one on can be relatively tedious.

Some dogs can be pretty resistant to wearing them initially, and owners have to be strong to handle a harness.

Long-haired breeds benefit from an extra check to ensure their locks aren't caught up in the product's numerous parts, and you'll have to brush hair more often.

Furthermore, when the equipment doesn't fit, it can cause problems, including chafing, restricted mobility, and breathing difficulties.

Many harnesses don't have room for ID tags, (we found one that's customizable) so you'll have to get a collar, too—in some places, walking unidentifiable dogs is a crime attached to huge fines or prison sentences.

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8

Dog harness bonuses

young dog running out of the water at dog park HIgs2006 / Getty Images

Good quality harnesses are manufactured with ergonomics and convenience in mind.

Some harnesses have thick webbing in the middle, so you can lift your dog into your car without hassle, or they have slots you can use with seat belts for secure transport.

Reflective strips and lights can check the visibility box during late walks, and attachments make it possible for your large breed to assist you with carrying a grocery bag.

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9

The importance of leash training

photo of short-coated black puppies Photo by Tucker Good on Unsplash

Harnesses distract and put dogs off pulling. They don't train dogs not to pull or behave badly—that's your job — with the help of the right training leash.

Short training sessions from a young age offer the best long-term results for your dog's and others' safety, but don't let anyone tell you you can't teach old pooches new tricks.

Edible treats act as incentives and positively reinforce preferred behaviors; a clicker also helps. You can, for example, teach your dog to walk only on one side of you.

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10

The bottom line

Profile view of a French Bulldog puppy at the beach, Minehead, Somerset, England gollykim / Getty Images

Pets are becoming more like family members. In recent years, there's been an uptick in research into pet health and product development to improve dogs' quality of life.

Vets agree that walking dogs with a harness is generally better for their safety than leashing at the collar.

Plus, body harnesses are good enough for toddlers, so your pup should get on board, at least eventually.

This article contains links to products. If you buy something, Critter Culture may earn a commission, and you’ll have our thanks.

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