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Harness vs Collar: Which Is Right for Your Dog?

Harness vs. Collars

So you've brought home a playful new puppy or an older rescue dog, and it's time to start taking your furry new friend on walks and to local dog parks. You need to figure out how you're going to secure your dog so it doesn't get away or approach other people and pets. 

You get to make the decision between a harness vs collar. 

In popular media featuring dogs, collars are always the obvious choice. They're simple, stylish, and easy to find and use. But is a collar always the right choice for your dog?

We're here to help you decide whether you need a dog harness or a dog collar for your canine companion. Read on to learn more. 

The Basics: Dog Collars

So what is a dog collar?

Dog collars are the most basic option for your dog. They're simple fabric (usually) rings that go around your dog's neck. They usually use buckles or snaps and they often feature identification tags in the center. 

Dog collars come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. 

When you're shopping for a dog collar, make sure that you know the exact measurements of your dog's neck. It's likely that you'll need to buy several collars throughout your dog's lifespan if you get the dog when it's a puppy.

Collars that are too loose can allow the dog to escape, while collars that are too tight can restrict their breathing. 

Pros of Dog Collars

So why would someone bother with a dog collar?

First, dog collars are easy ways to identify a dog that someone owns in the event that the dog gets loose or runs away. When people find a loose dog, the first place they look for identification is often the collar. 

Collars are easy to affix identification tags too. There are also so many options for collars that there's one for every personal style. Your dog can match you. 

If you have a dog that needs extra training, you could get a training collar. These collars are often made of chains or have spikes so you can "choke" the dog if it's misbehaving, but vets don't recommend this method. It's best to make your dog comfortable with its collar. 

Collars are comfortable for all-day use. 

Cons of Dog Collars

Collars are not a good choice for dogs with respiratory problems. Pugs, bulldogs, mastiffs, and plenty of other dogs are prone to breathing issues, and collars can further restrict their airways if you're using them on a leash.

Even dogs without respiratory issues may be uncomfortable if they're prone to pulling. You don't want to choke your dog when it gets excited and runs toward something. This is not the best method for controlling your dog.

On the other side, dogs who are not good walkers and who are often resistant or slow during walks also don't do well with collars. Tugging on a dog with a collar is going to be uncomfortable, and the dog will associate walks with discomfort. 

Dogs with small heads and wide or fluffy necks can slip out of collars with ease. 

The Basics: Dog Harnesses

So what about dog harnesses? 

Dog harnesses go around the dog's body for a more secure option. There are harnesses that use thinner straps and harnesses that resemble shirts for the dog. 

Harnesses are getting more popular as people discover how useful they can be. 

Pros of Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses are great training tools for puppies or older dogs who aren't used to being walked. Because they wrap securely around the dog, it's easier for the walker to guide the dog and control its behavior. A dog in a harness will find it difficult to run ahead of the walker or jump on strangers. 

Dog harnesses don't put any pressure on the dog's airway. They're great for dogs who have respiratory issues. They also reduce the risk of neck or throat damage for small breeds of dogs, like toy or teacup breeds and terriers. 

For small dogs, a harness can be a perfect tool for quickly scooping up the dog in the event of an emergency. 

Cons of Dog Harnesses 

Dog harnesses aren't as comfortable for most dogs. While some dogs like the security of a tight harness, most don't like the feeling of something restricting their movement. Dogs may have a hard time relaxing in a harness.

Dogs with long fur may get tangled up in harnesses. Full-coverage harnesses may prevent this problem. 

If you choose a harness that is too large for your dog, it's easy for the dog to get out of it (though this is also true of collars). 

Our Recommendation? Consider Both

You don't have to choose one over the other. When you're trying to decide whether you're going to use a dog harness vs collar, using both is an option.

Consider having your dog wear a collar all day. This allows you to put identification tags on the dog just in case it happens to escape. Even indoor dogs can run out without warning. 

You can use the harness when it's time to walk the dog. Harnesses shouldn't interfere with collars. 

This way, you get the benefit of both options.

Harness vs Collar: Which Is Right For Your Dog? 

At the end of the day, unless you have a dog with respiratory problems, this is a low-stakes decision. As long as your dog is comfortable and you're able to keep it secure while you're walking, both options are valid.

Combining the two instead of deciding between a harness vs collar might be the best choice for you and your dog. Which will you choose?

If you're looking for the best harness and collar options for your furry friend, why not check out some of our product reviews? Find your dog's new accessory today!

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