Is a Harness or Collar Better for a Puppy? (Solved & Explained!)

In order to keep your dog safe and secure while on a leash, you will want to choose a harness over a collar for young puppies. The reason for this is that puppies do not have proper training and therefore could pull on their leashes and hurt their neck with a collar.  

While pulling itself is not a bad thing, young puppies have neck and throat areas that are more sensitive than older dogs. This is because the skin around their neck and scruff is thinner when they are first born. Allowing puppies to pull on their leashes can result in neck and throat injuries.

Continue reading to learn more about the difference between a harness and collar, recommendations for puppy harnesses, and other information regarding proper leash training.

Benefits of Using a Harness

The most significant advantage of a dog harness is that it shifts pressure away from the neck and onto a broader area of the body. However, it is critical to recognize that a poorly fitted harness can be just as harmful to your dog’s health as a collar that applies too much pressure in the incorrect area. It is critical to ensure that your dog’s normal range of motion is not restricted, especially around the shoulders and in front leg extension.

A harness also helps with walking time in a variety of ways. It is often more effective at controlling very big or strong dogs. It also does not promote tugging behavior because your continuing pressure on the harness stops the forward pulling motion.

A well-fitting harness, particularly a three-point form that wraps around the dog’s torso at numerous locations, might be beneficial for frightened dogs who can slip out of a collar or a simpler harness style.

Drawbacks to Using a Harness

Like with most new concepts, harness training will be required for your puppy to become familiar with the harness. It is more difficult to put on, and frightened dogs may not like having their heads pushed through it. In these cases, going slowly and utilizing treats to develop a good relationship is advised.

Another drawback to using a harness is if your dog has particularly long fur, a harness may be more prone to develop tangles or mats. This is especially true if the harness is worn for an extended amount of time or during strenuous activities.

Choosing the Right Harness

Modern harnesses come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. It can feel overwhelming at first when choosing the right harness for your pup and it may even take a bit of trial and error to find a great fit.

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Puppies do well with a full panel, mesh front harnesses. This type of harness is designed to give even more control to the puppy’s owner. Mesh panel harnesses allow the skin underneath to breathe as well. This is a great option for the hot summer months for keeping your puppy’s temperature at a safe level.

Other types of harnesses include nylon strap harnesses, fashion harnesses, and harnesses that are made from leather materials. Try to avoid leather harnesses until your puppy is older. Leather has been known to cause reactions if left on a puppy’s skin for too long.

How to Measure your Puppy for a Harness

Once you have chosen a harness for your puppy, the next step is to ensure a proper fit. Having a properly fitting harness will make sure that your pup is more comfortable and safe when you go for walks. Follow these simple instructions on how to find your puppy’s harness size.

There are three measurements to take for a harness, unlike a traditional dog collar that has one. First, you will want to start at the pup’s chest. Using a flexible fabric tape measure, measure around the dog’s body. Start at your puppy’s rib cage and find the bottom. Measure around the dog’s rib cage, around its back, and then back to the ribs to complete a circle. Be sure to notate this measurement.

The next measurement you will need to fit your harness properly is the neck size. Take the measurement by wrapping the tape around the largest area of your dog’s neck. This will be the section right on top of your puppy’s shoulders, rather than where he would ordinarily wear his narrower collar.

Weigh Your Puppy for an Accurate Fit

While not necessary you will want to weigh your puppy. This is because some harness manufacturers use canine weight as their sizing guidelines. While there is not a great way to do this without a special scale, you can achieve this by using a human scale.

To measure your puppy on a regular scale you will need to weigh yourself holding your dog and weigh yourself alone, separately. You will then subtract your weight from that of both of your weights to get an estimate of your puppy’s weight. Alternatively, you can ask your veterinarian to weigh your puppy or tell you the pup’s weight at their last visit.

Harness or Collar, Have Proper Identification

Whether you are choosing to use a harness or collar with your puppy, it is vital to ensure that your dog has proper identification on them at all times. This could be a button-style tag on their collar or their identification information stitched into their collar or harness. Whichever you choose, keeping your dog identified is a good safety protocol.

What is a Collar?

A collar is a piece of fabric that is placed around an animal’s neck. Collars are used for training, safety, or identification purposes. Most collars are made from nylon fabric and have either a metal or plastic clipping mechanism. Collars will have a D-ring that allows for the fastening of their leashes.

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What is a Dog Harness?

Dog harnesses exist in a variety of forms, but the basic principle is the same: to disperse any strain imposed on the leash across a greater region of the dog’s body rather than in a small space around the dog’s neck.

The fabric of a harness is designed to go across the dog’s chest at the widest point and under its front legs. They are popular as the first choice for pups, but they have also been employed by owners of dogs who pull on walks or who are huge and difficult to handle.