Collar or harness: which is best for your dog?
Regardless of what kind of dog you have, one thing’s certain: they need and love to be walked!
But to collar or to harness, that is the question. Collars used to be the go-to for the majority of pet owners, but harnesses are becoming increasingly popular. Both have their benefits depending on your dog’s size, breed and temperament.
Below, we’ll help you decide which will work best for your pup. And remember: whichever option you choose, ensure your dog is wearing an ID tag at all times with pup’s name, your phone number and address and, if applicable, any serious health conditions.
Dog collars are the traditional way of restraining and identifying pups and they suit most dogs. When fitting one, make sure you can fit two fingers between your dog’s neck and the collar – if you can’t, it’s too tight. There are several different kinds:
- A flat leather collar is long-lasting; a nylon version is good for puppers who enjoy a dip.
- Martingale collars or slip collars are designed for escape artists who are adept at slipping out of their collars. They’re especially good for greyhounds and other breeds with thick necks and/or small heads. They close around the neck when the dog pulls without choking the dog.
- Choker chains (the name is fairly descriptive) or prong collars are designed to tighten around the neck when a dog pulls at the leash, causing discomfort. Some dog-owners use them as a training method but here at Lyka, we do not recommend them. A much kinder and more effective way of training your dog is with positive reinforcement.
Pros of collars
Collars suit most dogs, they’re easy to slip on and they’re comfortable for constant wear. The types of dogs that typically should be using collars are:
- Well trained dogs: If your dog is well trained on a leash and always walks by your side, collars are fine to use, as they are not putting any strain on their necks.
- Dogs who dislike harnesses: Some dogs just don’t like the feeling of wearing a harness, no matter how much you try.
- Dogs going on quick errands: Sometimes it’s more convenient to slip a lead onto a collar if you’re in a rush. If you’re just going for a quick outing, there is no harm is leaving the harness at home.
- Dogs with long hair: Collars don’t pull in the way that harnesses can, so to avoid catching your dog’s hair or getting it in a knot, a collar may be the most suitable choice.
Cons of collars
Avoid walking your dog with a collar if your dog has a history of eye problems, neck or back injuries or spinal malformations. If your dog is a puller, a collar is not a great choice because they could injure themselves or restrict their breathing. Collars are also not the best choice for delicate toy breeds, brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds and those with bulging eyes, due to breathing issues and risk of serious injury.
Your pup is perfectly behaved, right? They never wriggle out of their collar, tangles themselves up in your legs or attempts to get airborne after that pigeon. Oh, they do? Well, they may be an ideal candidate for a harness, which offers more control.
A harness goes around the dog’s chest, shoulders, upper back and front legs, which distributes pressure over a larger area than a collar. There are a couple of different kinds:
- Front-attaching harnesses to which you attach the leash at the front. These provide owners with better control and discourage pulling, but dogs may get tangled more easily.
- Back-attaching harnesses to which you attach the leash at the back. They’re good for smaller dogs or dogs that don’t pull.
Pros of harnesses
Harnesses are a better choice for certain breeds such as miniature poodles, which are more prone to tracheal collapse.
As mentioned above, any pup with breathing difficulties – this includes flat-faced breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs – will also do better walking with a harness; likewise delicate toy breeds who risk neck injury if they pull with a collar on.
Harnesses can also be great for older dogs or those with injuries – you can help them get up more easily by lifting them by the harness.
The types of dogs that typically should be using a harness are:
- Dogs in training: if you’re training your dog, you will have better leverage and control with a harness, especially a harness that has its lead attachment at the front/chest area. Harnesses with lead attachments at the back are less effective.
- Dogs that pull: If your dog is a puller (we all know them!) using a collar can make them prone to neck injuries. You’re better off using a harness so that the force of their pull is distributed across their body.
- Dogs that need assistance: Harnesses are a great tool if your dog needs a bit of help. For example, senior dogs that need help getting up the stairs, or for dogs that are lucky enough to be joining you for outdoor activities such as hiking or boating.
- Scared or skittish dogs: If your dog gets nervous in certain situations, harnesses are the way to go, as they are very secure. A nervous dog is much more likely to slip out of a collar than a harness.
Cons of harnesses
Harnesses take longer to fasten than a collar, so they’re not as convenient. They’re also bulkier and less comfortable – some dogs take some time to learn to walk in them – and they may not suitable for all-the-time wear, but with so many different types out available, there should be a style and fabric to suit your pup.
Lyka: optimal balance of omega-3s for joint health
Whether you choose a harness or collar for your walks, Lyka’s delicious and nutritious meals will give your pup the energy and nutrients they need to keep going. PLUS! The optimal balance of omega-3’s will help to promote joint health to help your pup run, jump and play – and of course, do all those zoomies! Order a Starter Box today and join the fresh dog food revolution.