HARNESSES VS COLLARS: THE BIG DEBATE
Got a wriggler? A pesky puller? Or a devious escape artist? Don’t worry; we know as well as anyone that dog walking can be challenging at times. So, for all you dog owners out there, we’ll try and settle once and for all whether using a harness or a collar is best for your loveable rogue.
IN FAVOUR OF COLLARS
Well, it’s tradition!
Most dogs are generally raised wearing collars as they’re super convenient for holding ID tags with their humans’ details on, as well as attaching anti-flea and anti-tic tags.
Slipping on and off a collar is undeniably easier that pulling pup’s paws through harnesses, so it will make both your and their life easier when getting ready to head out on an adventure. Collars might feel more comfortable for many dogs to have on, especially if they’re wearing it all day and night long. Also, if your canine friend has particularly luscious locks, a simple neck collar is less likely to pull long hair in the way a harness might.
Safer for dog play
A lot of pups will bite and grab onto whatever they can when playing with another dog. Unfortunately, if a dog is wearing a harness, other dogs will often latch onto this. This can potentially be very stressful for a dog who feels they can’t get away – and their harness might get ripped apart entirely. Collars are much harder for other dogs to get hold of, in this sense.
Assists in puppy training
It’s arguably easier to get puppies used to walking on a lead while wearing a collar from a younger age. You can slip on and off a collar from about 8 weeks to get used to the feeling, whereas a harness might bother them much more when they’re unsure of so many things!
Discourages laziness with training
It’s easier to control your dog when they’re harnessed up – particularly if he’s a small pup. However, this can mean you never fully put in the time to train your little one. They should learn to not pull at all, which can take a hell of a lot of time and patience.
A simple way to help your dog learn to walk without pulling on the leash is to stop moving forward when he pulls and to reward him with treats when he walks by your side. Keeping your dog in a collar might encourage you to take the time to train him to walk properly.
IN FAVOUR OF HARNESSES
One for the escape artistes in the room! Harnesses are undeniably safer on walks if your doggy tries to wiggle their little selves out and make a run for it.
Reduces health risks for your pupper
Collars can unfortunately raise a number of health risks that harnesses could help combat. Harnesses put less pressure on dogs’ necks and reduce choke risk (especially if they’re prone to pulling) and won’t cause the same irritation around the neck that collars can. Too-tight collars can cause patchy hair loss and skin irritation around the areas they constantly touch, making the skin in those areas more prone to nasty infections.
Great for special doggy requirements
Harnesses come in all shapes and sizes which is ideal for dogs with unusually-proportioned bodies, let’s say. So dogs with notoriously slim heads, like greyhounds, or thick necks, like bulldogs, might find it super easy to wriggle out of their collars when harnesses are more likely to stay put.
Harnesses have a lower risk of restricting breathing for breeds that are prone to respiratory issues like pugs or French bulldogs. Also, very small dogs are more prone to neck injury to tugging on the leash; harnesses disperse pressure over a larger area of the body, reducing strain on his neck and back.
Obviously, pulling is the main doggy habit that we most work to discourage. When a dog pulls on a lead, they still generally move forwards – even if it’s a bit more of a forwards-and-upwards motion – which feels like a tiny reward for them each time. This makes the dog feel like he’s successfully getting what he wants. A harness will help to redirect a dog when he’s pulling, whether attached across the chest or shoulder blades. Some even tighten on pulling which evidently discourages them from trying again, and lets the dog know that there’s no reward to be had!
It’s better for you!
Anyone who’s walked more than one dog at a time, or a particularly hench doggo, knows that it can be a huge strain on you as well. Us dog walkers sometimes finish the day with tight necks, sore hands and blistered feet. The improved control of harnesses puts less pressure on your arms, neck, back and across your shoulders from pulling back repeatedly.
All in all, it’s probably not a bad idea to have your dog equipped with both a comfortable collar and a well-fitted harness. A loose-fitting collar is super useful for identification purposes while a harness is probably more effective for walking and doggy training. The best thing you can do for your dog is offer them as much time, patience and love as possible in training, in the hope that one day they won’t even need to walk on a lead at all!