Is a Collar or Harness Better For Your Dog?
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Using a leash is necessary for most dogs. Even those that are well-trained and obedient can be at risk near busy roads. It is a useful accessory which allows us to keep the dog safe from running off. There are numerous makes and types available on the pet accessory market, but they are generally attached to one of two things: a collar or a harness. Dog collars were the most commonly used until relatively recently. However, many believe the harness provides better security for the dog.
To weigh in on the collar vs. harness debate, AnimalWised asks is a collar or a harness better for your dog? We look at the characteristics of both and show you which is best for your canine.
Collars for dog leashes
Collars are one of the most popular dog accessories and have been for a long time. They are very useful on their own as they allow the dog to carry an information tag. This information is important if they become lost. By being round their neck, the dog cannot take it off and shouldn't be uncomfortable for them.
However, when using a leash with a collar, it can cause damage. The concept of a leash involves tethering the dog to the guardian so they don't run away. This is because the dog will often try to run after anything which can attract their attention. The leash allows the guardian to reign them in. When the leash is attached to a collar, this pulling action puts strain on a very vulnerable part of their body, i.e. the neck.
If the dog pulls hard on a leash attached to a collar, it can lead to injury. Among the physical injuries that can occur are strain on the spinal cord, choking on the throat, damage to the thyroid, respiratory problems and even tracheal damage. Also, if the dog suffers damage over time it can lead to neurological issues.
The damage occurs not only when the dog pulls on the leash, but when the guardian does. This could be in an emergency, for example if the dog tries to run in front of a car. However, many guardians overuse the leash and try to correct healthy behavior. Some even use a choke collar which is designed to constrict the dog's neck. This is something which can be illegal in some countries.
When we use the leash with a collar, it is not just physical damage we can be inflicting. In can lead the dog to associate walking with stressful feelings. They can become scared to go outside and even develop behavioral problems.
Not all dogs will react the same when using a leash with a collar. Some will tolerate it well and may not have significant damage caused by their use. However, others may be particularly susceptible to problems. Brachycephalic dogs, for example, already have respiratory problems when walking. Using a collar can exacerbate these problems and cause long-term damage.
Harnesses for dog leashes
The dog harness is not the solution to all dog problems, but it is less harmful and more advantageous than the collar. This is because the support it provides does not go around the neck. The harness is placed over the thorax of the dog and supported around the front legs. This means the pressure exerted when pulling on the leash is spread over a larger area and is not put on as vulnerable an area of the dog's body.
Harnesses for dogs also help to control the dog better. When using the leash to guide them, a harness directs their front legs, rather than pulling them from the neck. This can allow greater control without harming the dog in the process.
There are considerations to make the with dog harness also. It should be made out of a material which does not cut into the dog's flesh or cause friction on their skin. The chest area must not be constricted so the dog can breathe properly. We should not put the harness on directly behind their elbows, otherwise it can rub against their armpits. Similarly, it should not restrict the neck, otherwise it will react just as badly as a collar.
Dog harnesses are also essential for strenuous physical exercise with a dog. Wearing a collar for the leash is too dangerous for the dog's health. Take a look at our article on canicross training with your dog to know more.
Dog collar vs. harness: conclusion
In conclusion, the harness is most appropriate for dogs regardless of size or age. In particular, they are very useful for animals that are fearful, aggressive or exhibit behavioral problems. They are also better suited to brachycephalic dogs and any canine which may be restricted by a collar.
You can still use a collar for their identification. A good harness will allow you to put it on when the dog has a collar as well since it shouldn't go up to the neck. However, you may need to check in case the collar and harness rub together, as may be the case with small dogs or dogs with large necks.
Dog collars are also useful in case your dog becomes lost. This is something you can learn more about in our article on dog tracking collars.
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