Using a dog harness instead of a collar isn’t a practice that many dog owners do. However, it’s an essential consideration that can significantly impact your beloved dog’s safety, health, and enjoyment.
The choice between a harness and a dog collar is more than just about aesthetics. It’s about providing the right support, maintaining control and preventing potential injuries.
In this article, we will explore the reasons why a dog harness might just be the superior choice for your four-legged friend.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Dog Harnesses?
Dog harnesses appear more complex than simple collars but they offer a different way to secure and control your dog.
Dog harnesses aim to distribute pressure more evenly across a dog’s body by securing straps around your dog’s chest and torso, not their neck.
They come in a range of styles, sizes and materials to suit different dogs.
Pros Of Dog Harnesses
Safer For Your Dog
The most important aspect of a harness is that it reduces the amount of strain that it places on the dog’s neck.
The placement of the harness across your dog’s body distributes the opposing force of your dog on bigger body muscles.
A harness makes an excellent choice for toy breeds or breeds susceptible to certain health conditions.
Better Control And Guidance
Having a harness on your dog makes it a lot easier to control it.
The dog harness allows you to control your dog from its center of gravity.
This makes it harder for the dog to get away from you or if you need to restrain your dog.
From my experience, trying to control a disobedient dog with a dog collar is like trying to move Mount Everest with a string.
It ain’t budging.
If a situation arises where you need to swiftly secure your dog, it’s easier to grab hold of the harness.
This spares you the struggle of having to search through your dog’s neck fur and around its ears to locate the collar, which might be too late.
Safety And Security
Unlike collars, it’s much harder for your dog to slip out of a well-fitted harness.
This gives you peace of mind especially if your dog is an escape artist or likes backing out of its collar.
Many harnesses are designed with reflective materials, making your dog more visible during low-light conditions.
Should I Be Using A Dog Collar Instead?
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to choosing between a harness or collar. Both a collar and harness can work well for most dogs.
But if you have yet to try using a harness on your dog, I strongly suggest that you do.
The number one reason why I would use a dog harness instead of a dog collar is your dog’s well-being.
Even if you have a dog that is very obedient and easy to control, there is no telling when it might get spooked or overly excited.
A sudden hard tug on the collar can cause serious injury to your dog’s neck.
Collars can cause injuries such as:
- Collapsed trachea
- Sensitive throats
- Erratic eye pressure
- Thyroid disorders
Even a study has confirmed that “there is a risk of injury to the neck for all collar types and styles tested, even where collars are padded or wide fitting.”
If your dog is prone to pulling on the leash, you need to switch to a harness as soon as possible before your dog gets injured.
Is A Harness Better Than A Collar For A Puppy?
It might surprise you to learn that a harness often tops a collar for a puppy, especially during its early months.
I personally prefer to use a well-fitted body harness for a puppy, making sure that it clears all joint areas and accommodates the puppy’s growth.
Puppies are full of energy and have a tendency to pull on the leash which can injure the delicate structures in their necks.
A harness helps distribute the pressure over a larger area of the puppy’s body, reducing potential strain on the neck.
Restricting shoulder movement in a puppy whose bones are still developing could lead to long-term issues.
It’s critical to ensure that the harness fits correctly and doesn’t hinder their natural movement.
Puppies are always hungry which is needed to fuel their rapid growth grow and good harnesses can be quite an investment.
So it is a good idea to get a harness that can accommodate your puppy’s growth for some time.
For small or young puppies, I don’t necessarily advocate for a front-fastening harness.
The early puppy phase is about exploration and socialization.
Providing them the freedom to investigate their environment without undue restriction or discomfort is key for their development.
What Are The Pros And The Cons Of Dog Collars?
Dog collars are often the first choice for the majority of dog owners.
They are arguably the most common type of restraint used when it comes to walking dogs.
A dog collar can be made from a variety of materials ranging from leather to nylon and is placed around the dog’s neck.
Dog collars serve several purposes: they’re a place to attach identification tags, licenses, and leashes, and they can also be used for control and training.
Pros Of Dog Collars
Simple To Use
Dog collars are straightforward and easy to use. Just fasten the dog collar around your dog’s neck and you are good to go.
This simple design makes them a favorite among pet owners, especially those who value quick and uncomplicated setups.
It’s All About Convenience
One of the great advantages of a dog collar is its convenience.
Dog collars are made to be worn constantly by the dog without getting in the way of its day-to-day activities.
It offers a permanent place for attaching your pet’s ID tag and license tag which are legally required in many countries.
This constant wearability makes it less likely that a dog will be without its identifying information, which is crucial if your dog ever gets lost *knock on wood*
Used For Training
Collars are usually preferred as they provide near-instant feedback and correction to the dog during canine training.
When training a dog, it is very important to let the dog know right away what it is doing is wrong or bad.
This makes the collar a useful tool when teaching your dog leash obedience.
Cons Of Dog Collars
High Potential For Injury
The most notable downside of dog collars is the potential for injury.
When a dog pulls forcefully against a leash attached to a collar, it can put a lot of strain on the neck which is a very fragile and vulnerable area.
This can lead to injuries to the neck, trachea, and spine, especially in small dogs or those with shorter noses such Boxers and Bulldogs.
I cringe in discomfort whenever I see a dog lunging and pulling at its leash while the owner is nonchalant about it.
The Great Escape
Collars are generally secure but they aren’t foolproof.
Dogs with narrower heads and slender necks such as Greyhounds or Whippets can often slip out of their collars if they pull with enough force.
This escape risk could potentially lead to dangerous situations, especially in public or busy areas.
It can be even more dangerous if your dog loves to chase cars and escapes out from its collar.
A dog collar doesn’t offer the same level of control when it comes to dogs that are large, strong or over-active.
I kid you not when I say that I’ve seen a Chihuahua drag its owner across a dog park. x
If your dog is prone to pulling or lunging, a collar may not provide you with enough control of your dog’s movement comfortably.
Even for me with a medium sized dog, when he gets too excited and pulls hard on the leash, it can be a struggle to reign him in.
Is A Harness More Comfortable Than A Collar?
A harness is often more comfortable for a dog because it distributes pressure across a larger area of the body, reducing strain on the neck. Harnesses can provide more control without the risk of choking, especially for dogs that pull.
Do Dogs Feel Safer In A Harness?
Certain dogs might be more sensitive and nervous about their environment.
Equipping your canine with a harness can offer it comfort, as the mild pressure on its body can to help reduce stress.
Are Harnesses Bad For Dog Shoulders?
If a harness is too tight, poorly designed or not correctly positioned, it can potentially cause strain on a dog’s shoulders. It’s essential to choose a well-designed harness and ensure it fits your dog properly to avoid any issues.