Going for a walk with your dog is one of the most important things you will do with them daily. Having your pet secured is key to their comfort and safety. There are many ways you can connect a leash to walk your dog. Harnesses and collars are both great options, but which one is best for your pet? Let’s explore your options.
Harnesses are straps that wrap around your dogs’ torso. Depending on the design, harnesses can either cover your dogs’ back or their stomach. They can be clipped with buckles and tightened to be more snug. Harnesses are suitable for small dogs, especially when you need to ride in the car with them. A harness is much safer to attach a seatbelt.
Another good thing about wearing a harness is that you control your dog much more effortlessly. If you are in a situation where you need to hold your dog back, it will be easier to pull them back and keep them close with a harness.
You can also use a harness to train your dog not to pull on their leash. A front-clip harness is the best option for this. These harnesses help control your dog and pull their shoulders back to help prevent them from pulling you. Many harnesses have front and back clips. Some breeds like Huskies tend to pull more with a front clip harness as they tend to like to push into it. Pulling is instinctive, as they are sled dogs.
Head halters – the most common being the Gentle Leader or Halti is a special kind of harness with a strap that goes around your dog’s nose and neck. The leash clips to a loop underneath the nose strap. It works on the principle of “where the nose goes, the body will follow.” Not all dogs can use head halters. It really depends on the size and shape of the snout. For example, dogs with flat faces cannot wear them. Fit is crucial to ensure your dog’s comfort and how the head halter works; you do not want it to ride up into the eyes.
Some dogs have a hard time getting used to the head halter and will spend most of the walk trying to paw it off. It is important that you take the time and patience for your pup to get used to it and follow the instructions carefully. Put it on for a few minutes, feed them a treat, allow them to do their favourite things with it on (eat, play etc.) before attaching the leash.
The biggest con of a harness surrounds the overall fit. If it isn’t secure enough, your dog may be able to slip out of it.
You also don’t want one that is too thick and not breathable, especially in the summertime. Harnesses come in different materials, so try to find one that is breathable and isn’t too thick around your dog’s stomach.
Collars are flat circular buckles that wrap around your dog’s neck with a loop to attach a leash to it. They are good for bigger dogs since they have bigger and strong necks. Collars come in different sizes and with other fastening options as well.
There are different types of collars to choose from. You have your typical flat collars, prong collars, martingale collars and shock collars. We do NOT recommend prong or shock collars unless it is for extreme reasons and you have been appropriately trained by a professional on how to use them. They are mainly used for training and teaching your dog not to pull on their leash. While these methods exist, there are much better ways to teach your dog leash manners.
A good thing about collars is that they can stay on your dog all the time. You can also attach their ID tags to their collars if they become separated from you. Martingale collars are our preference and are great options for dogs who tend to slip out of regular collars. These collars can be customized to properly fit your dog’s neck and not be too tight to choke them. Martingale collars are great for dogs whose heads are smaller than their necks, like a Whippet.
If your dog has a bad habit of pulling on its leash, the prolonged pressure on their neck can eventually lead to issues. If your dog starts running after something suddenly, by the time they reach the end of the leash, it will pull them back very hard, which isn’t good for them at all.
Collars can also be put on way too tight, making your dog uncomfortable. You should be able to fit two fingers in between your dog’s collar and neck.
Harnesses and Collars Are Both Great, But, It’s Up To You
As a pet parent, it is up to you to decide whether a collar or harness will suit your unique pup the best. It could be possible that your dog will be fine with a collar at first and prefer a harness later, or vice versa! Most of the time, your dog will probably be fine with both. They will each serve their purpose at different times.
As mentioned above, harnesses can be suitable for controlling your dogs, but collars are good if your dog is properly leash trained. The nice thing about selecting a harness or collar for your pet is that you can try them on in-store first so you can make sure your dog will like it before you buy it and take it home. If you take them home, keep the packaging and receipt and try them out for a few days. Most good pet stores are pleased to accept a return if it does not work out. Check out this blog about The Best Pet Product Shops in Aurora and Newmarket.
Which would be best for your dog? What have you had the most success with? Let us know in the comments below.
Morag is the owner and founder of York Regions most trusted premier in-home pet care and dog walking companies. In 2000 she saw a need for an alternative to kennels, catteries for family pets in the area and has always believed that pets are much happier and less stressed staying in their own familiar environment. Morag and her team are all certified in Pet 1st Aid and CPR, she also offers continuous training to her team members through online and hands on pet care and pet behaviour and care courses. Morag has earned her certificate in Professional Pet Sitting, Professional Dog Walking and Canine Attendant training. She has lived in the Newmarket/Aurora area since 1991 is a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a grandmother of 2 delightful little balls of energy. She has also been owned by fish, birds, mice, rats, cats, dogs, gerbils and guinea pigs and is an advocate for all living creatures. In her spare time she likes to be involved in her community and events travelling, reading and cooking.