• Ashley Indrieri
  • Former Real Intern

  • 3 minutes read time
  • Collars? Harnesses? Which One is Better?

    Choosing between a collar and harness seems like an easy decision, but it’s really a bit more complicated than it seems.

    Collars appear to give you more control over your pup, but also seems a bit restrictive to your pup’s ability to move around. This may or may not be your intention. Harnesses, especially those with front clips, seem like a great way to keep new puppies from jumping on people, but does that teach them long-term leash manners, especially as they grow?

    We reached out to our friend Malory from Zoe’s Dog Training. If you’ve ever wondered if you’re using the right restraints for your dog, you’re going to want to read to this!

    We asked Malory straight out - which is better? A collar or a harness?

    A harness could be the right tool for one dog, but not another. Everyone has unique dogs with unique needs, and it is important to have a diverse perspective on these things rather than to be narrow-minded.

    So which dogs typically require a collar and which dogs typically require a harness? Malory said that MOST dogs should be wearing collars because it gives you, the owner, the most power over the dog. Along with this, collars are also great for putting tags on your dog if they were to ever get lost. But then on the flip side, Malory said that harnesses are especially good for smaller dogs. This is because

    Smaller dogs have sensitive necks, that are more fragile, and easier to damage

    AND

    Using a harness eliminates the risk of tracheal collapse, which Malory says is a big concern with little pups

    Lastly, there are always two sides to every story, so what are the pros and cons of collars and harnesses? According to Malory...

       Collars         vs Harnesses
    PROS CONS PROS CONS
    • Helps with pulling
    • Gives more control
    • Holds I.D tags
    • Risk of tracheal damage
    • Dog's can slip out of them
    • NOT safe for trying out a dog
    • Less risk of tracheal damage
    • Allows dogs to have a sense of freedom
    • Safe to tie out on
    • Discourages dog from jumping
    • Encourages pulling
    • Can inhibit shoulder movement
    • Puts excessive torque on the scapula
    • Can be slipped out of
    PROS harnesses
    • Less risk of tracheal damage
    • Allows dogs to have a sense of freedom
    • Safe to tie out on
    • Discourages dog from jumping
    CONS harnesses
    • Encourage pulling
    • Can inhibit shoulder movement
    • Puts excessive torque on the scapula
    • Can be slipped out of
    PROS collars
    • Help with pulling
    • Gives more control
    • Holds I.D tags
    CONS collars
      • Risk of tracheal damage
      • Dog's can slip out of them
    • NOT safe for trying out a dog

    So which harness? Harnesses with a front hook are ideal for trying to get your dog not to pull because it makes the dog feel uncomfortable when they do pull. But, if your dog has a longer head and needs more space for shoulder movement, then you should choose the harness with a hook on the back.

    Malory wants us to know, “There is no one size fits all when it comes to collars and harnesses. There are so many different types of both tools that it can be overwhelming at times. There is also no magic tool that will stop your dog from pulling forever. This is why training is not negotiable with this behavior. A dog will pull regardless of what they are on if they are not taught what they should do instead. There is no substitute for solid loose leash walking training. If you cannot do the training on your own, then consult with a good dog trainer and they can help you learn how to better control your dog on a leash, no matter what you choose to have them wear!”

    We recommend consulting with a professional dog trainer to determine which restraint will work best for your pup’s needs.