Is a Harness Better Than a Collar for Your Dog’s Safety?

When it comes to walking your dog, choosing between a harness and a collar can be a tough decision. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it can be difficult to determine which one is better for your pet. While collars have been the go-to option for many years, harnesses are becoming increasingly popular among dog owners.

One of the main benefits of using a harness is that it distributes pressure more evenly across your dog’s body. Unlike collars, which can put pressure on your dog’s neck and throat, harnesses are designed to put pressure on the chest and shoulders. This can be especially important for dogs that tend to pull on the leash, as it can help prevent injury and discomfort. Additionally, harnesses can be a good option for dogs with respiratory issues or neck injuries, as they provide more support and control.

On the other hand, collars are often more convenient and easier to use than harnesses. They can be quickly and easily put on and taken off, and they don’t require any adjustments or fittings. Additionally, collars can be a good option for dogs that don’t pull on the leash, as they provide enough control for most walks. However, it’s important to note that collars can be dangerous for dogs that tend to pull, as they can cause injury to the neck and throat.

Pros and Cons of Harnesses and Collars

Pros of Harnesses

When it comes to walking your dog, harnesses have some advantages over collars. A harness distributes the force of a leash across your dog’s chest and shoulders, reducing strain on their neck and spine. This is especially important for breeds with a higher risk of neck injury, such as Pugs and Bulldogs. Harnesses also give you more control over your dog, making it easier to steer them away from distractions or potential dangers.

bulldog in harness with happy face

Cons of Harnesses

While harnesses have many benefits, they can also have some downsides. Harnesses can be harder to put on and take off than collars, and they may require more physical strength to control your dog, depending on their size. Some dogs may also find harnesses uncomfortable or restrictive, especially if they are not properly fitted.

Pros of Collars

Collars are the most common type of dog-walking equipment, and for good reason. They are simple to use, lightweight, and come in a variety of styles and materials. Collars are also a good option for puppies or dogs who are still learning to walk on a leash, as they allow for more freedom of movement.

Where Should a Chihuahua Collar Sit with leash puppy?

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Cons of Collars

One of the main drawbacks of collars is that they can put tension on your dog’s trachea, which can lead to breathing problems or other health issues. This is especially true for breeds with short or flat snouts, such as Pugs and French Bulldogs. Collars can also be less secure than harnesses, as dogs can slip out of them if they are not properly fitted.

In conclusion, both harnesses and collars have their pros and cons. When choosing between the two, it’s important to consider your dog’s breed, size, and walking habits, as well as any health issues they may have. By selecting the right equipment for your dog, you can ensure that your walks are safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for both you and your pet.


Health Considerations

When deciding between a harness and a collar for your dog, health considerations should be a top priority. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Respiratory Problems

If your dog has respiratory problems, such as a collapsed trachea or breathing difficulties, a harness may be a better option than a collar. Harnesses distribute pressure more evenly across the chest, reducing the risk of injury to the neck and throat.

Shoulder Injuries

Dogs that have had shoulder injuries or are prone to them may benefit from a harness. Collars can put pressure on the front legs and shoulders, exacerbating existing injuries or causing new ones.

Escape and Identification

If your dog is prone to escaping or getting lost, a collar with identification tags is a must. However, it’s important to note that collars can slip off or break, leaving your dog without identification. In these cases, a harness with a built-in identification tag may be a better choice.

Boston terrier and hounds with invisible fence shock collars saying hi

Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds, such as greyhounds and whippets, have short snouts and are prone to respiratory problems. For these breeds, a harness is generally considered a safer option than a collar.

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Remember, every dog is different, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian and consider your dog’s individual needs before deciding between a harness and a collar.


Training Considerations

When it comes to training your dog, the type of collar or harness you choose can make a big difference. Here are some training considerations to keep in mind when deciding between a harness and a collar.

Positive Association

It’s important to create a positive association with any new equipment you introduce to your dog. Start by allowing them to sniff the harness or collar and reward them with treats. Gradually increase the amount of time they wear it, always rewarding them for their cooperation.

Leash Training

Both collars and harnesses can be used for leash training, but a harness may be more effective for larger or stronger dogs. A harness provides better control and distributes the momentum across the dog’s body, reducing strain on the neck.

Experience and Personality

Consider your dog’s experience and personality when choosing a collar or harness. Brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs or bulldogs, may benefit from a harness to reduce pressure on their airways. Dogs with a lot of energy may benefit from a harness to prevent neck injuries while pulling.

New Harness

If you’re introducing a new harness to your dog, it’s important to allow them to get used to it gradually. Start by allowing them to wear it for short periods of time, gradually increasing the duration. Use treats and positive reinforcement to create a positive association with the harness.



Why you shouldn’t use a dog harness?

Harnesses are good for keeping pressure off of your dog’s neck, but they  do come with caveats. Putting on and taking off the harness can take a little time, at least until you are used to it. Also, if put on incorrectly, your dog could wiggle out of it and put themselves in danger.

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Finally, with bigger dogs, the harness allows them to pull with more force, so additional care is required to avoid being ‘pulled’ around by your dog.

Should my puppy wear a harness or collar?

Your puppy should wear both. The collar is necessary in order to hold your dog’s tags, so that someone can contact you if your pup goes missing, and the harness should be used for walking.

This will help to keep pressure off of your puppy’s neck when you are outside together and the harness may be removed as soon as you get home.

Do you need a collar if you have a harness?

Yes, it’s still a good idea to have a collar, even if you have a harness. A collar is the perfect place to hang registration tags or information to use if your dog is found unaccompanied. So, in a nutshell — save the harness for walks, as it won’t stress your dog’s neck, and keep the collar for the tags!

Are harnesses bad for dogs’ shoulders?

A harness is perfect for use with walking, but should not be worn all of the time. This is because a tight harness is placed so that it is above your dog’s shoulder muscles and this pressure can cause problems down the line if the harness is not removed immediately when you get home from a walk.

This can result in conditions such as bursitis, arthritis, inflammation, and chronic shoulder pain, so be sure to use the harness only for the short time that you and your dog are taking walks.

Is a harness good for walking a dog?

A harness is a much better option than a collar for walking your dog. The attachment loop for the leash is placed on your dog’s back, so that force is redistributed safely instead of focused on your dog’s neck and collar. Provided that it is not put on too loosely, it is a safe option that gives you excellent control.

That said, if it is loose, your dog can wiggle out, so you must be careful putting it on. Also, if you have a strong dog, it will take a little practice to learn the harness as your dog can pull harder than with a leash and collar.

Do you leave your dog harness on all the time?

No, you should not leave a harness on at all times. It is best to put it on your dog before a walk and then to take it off when you get back home.

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This helps to avoid unnecessary pressure from the harness on your dog’s shoulders all of the time, as well as the wear and tear of abrasion from the tight straps of the harness. Don’t worry – you’ll be able to put it on and take it off of your dog fairly quickly with a little practice!

Does a harness calm a dog?

Usually, if your dog’s attitude changes when you put on the harness because they are nervous. The restraining aspect of the harness can make them uncomfortable but more than that, going outside makes such dogs a little nervous as they will be out of home where they feel most comfortable.

This can come across as your dog being calmer than usual, but it’s more a matter of them becoming carefully alert when they are going out into the ‘unknown’. This will occur less often as they become more familiar with their walking route and the people and animals they regularly see there.

Can dogs get out of harness?

If you put on a harness too loosely, then your dog can indeed escape and possibly hurt themselves (especially if you are near a road!). Due to this possibility, you need to be slow and meticulous when putting on your dog’s harness and you should test the tightness before you go out.

This is vital, as a dog that gets out of their harness may panic and bolt, so always check it well before you leave your home with your dog for a walk.

At what age can you put a harness on a puppy?

You can start getting your puppy used to the harness as early as 8 weeks. That said, walks should be limited to 15 minutes a time at this age and you should keep your puppy away from other animals and animal droppings – you need to be very careful walking them until their vaccines have been completed.