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Harness or collar: which one should I pick for my dog?

A bunch of dog breed with collars and attached to a leash advice
© Unsplash

The debate over whether a harness or collar is best for dogs will probably never truly be settled. Pet store shelves are full to the brim with a variety of training and walking tools, and it can become quite a task to figure out which is the best choice for your dog.

By Alice Lang

Sure - printed, sparkly, decorated collars that come in every colour under the sun can be tempting. But when it comes to choosing whether a harness or collar is best for your dog, it should be about more than just style. Some dogs may benefit more with a harness than a collar, and vice versa. So to help you out, we’ve gathered together the benefits and need-to-know facts about each to help you decide whether a harness or collar is right for your pooch!

Using a collar on your dog

Is a collar better than a harness for dogs? Is a collar the right choice for your pooch? ©Tanner Vines on Unsplash
 

When it comes to collars, your choices are endless. There’s a multitude of sizes, materials, collars and style available. Each has their uses, though some are controversial and we’d advise you to completely avoid them - such as the choke and pronged kind. The main benefit of using a collar on our dog has to be convenience. It’s super easy to leave a collar on your pooch and quickly attach the lead whenever you need to. Plus, you can buy a collar with your dog's ID tag on or even attach one yourself - which includes their medical and vaccination information - for added peace of mind.

However, if you have a dog who can sometimes be hard to control, has a habit of pulling on the leash, or is generally badly behaved, a collar probably isn’t the best choice. If a dog constantly strains their neck by pulling on the leash on a walk, an injury could occur. And if they spot something and make a dash for it, the pressure upon the neck can be immense! On top of this, collars aren’t appropriate for all breeds of dog. If you have a small dog with a slim neck, they could end up slipping out easily and often. If you’re enticed by the convenience, selection and ease of a collar, we’d recommend giving it a try but keeping a close eye on your dog's reaction. If you find that they pull excessively, become aggressive or fearful when greeted with a collar, or slip out every 5 minutes, a harness might be a better option for your pup.

Using a harness on your dog

Is a harness a better choice for a dog than a collar? Is a harness the right choice for your dog? ©Shane Rounce on Unsplash
 

Just like collars, choosing a harness for your dog has its pros and cons - and whether it’s right for you depends largely on your dog's character and behaviour. If you’re having a difficult time taking your dog for a walk - they pull and become easily distracted - a harness is a great option. Because they wrap around a dog’s body rather than the neck, they’re great at preventing injuries as well as allowing greater control.

Can your dog get a little feisty? Big, strong dogs or those who struggle with aggression can be particularly difficult to manage on walks. A harness is a great option for you - if your pooch runs after another dog, you’ll have a good amount of control, despite their strength. In small or thin breeds with fragile bones, a collar could cause severe injuries. A harness, however, evenly distributes the pressure over the dog’s body rather than fixing it on the neck. The downsides? Well, some dogs hate harnesses, so you might have a grumpy pup on your hands! A harness is unlikely to harm your dog in any way, but they might not like the restriction and find it uncomfortable - yep, they’re just being fussy.