Collars vs Harnesses: Which is Right for My Dog?

Collars vs Harnesses: Which is Right for My Dog?

We rely on collars and harnesses to keep their pooch under control in all kinds of situations. Most dogs are accustomed to wearing collars; however, many pet owners find harnesses also offer many advantages. So which is right for your pup? 

Here is your guide to deciding which options are best for you and your pets!

Types of Dog Collars

A wide variety of collars are available for pet owners to choose from. All with different designs, materials, and purposes. 

1. Flat collars

Flat collars are what most people think of when they think of a collar.  They’re usually nylon and are sometimes called buckle collars because they feature an adjustable buckle similar to that of a belt. Some flat collars feature a quick-release buckle that will unclasp when pulled by heavy force in emergency situations.

These collars are adjustable and come in many different materials and colors. They’re easy to find and are very comfortable for your dog. If your dog tends to pull on the leash during walks, this collar may not be the best option when trying to correct this behavior. In this case, it’s best to have this collar paired with a training collar. 

2. Martingale collars

Martingale collars look similar to flat collars at first glance but have either a fabric or chain loop that allows the collar to adjust size when pulled. These collars sit loose around your canine’s neck, making them especially comfortable.  When they are on a leash, they tighten up when you or your pet pulls on it. 

This makes them a great option for dogs that tend to slip out of a flat collar. If your dog is a runner when they’re off leash, this collar can give you peace of mind during walks. Martingale collars are usually adjustable and can have either the buckle or quick-release clasps. 

3. Choke chain collars

Choke chains are metal chain collars that tighten up when the leash is pulled and release when the leash is dropped. They’re used for training purposes as a way to correct your dog, especially during walks. When your dog pulls ahead of you or loses their focus while barking at another dog, you can quickly pull and release on the collar to correct their behavior and regain their focus.

They are strong and durable, but have the potential to be misused and lose their effectiveness. When using a choke chain, make sure you are not allowing your dog to continuously pull at the leash. This can cause damage to their trachea and, eventually, your dog will no longer respond to the collar’s correction.

4. Pinch collars

Pinch collars are another type of metal collar that should only be used for training purposes. They are completely adjustable with removable links for expanding or shortening the collar. They are also called prong collars because of their curved prongs that pinch your dog’s neck when the leash is pulled. 

Pinch collars can be very effective, but you should consult a certified trainer before using a pinch collar as they can easily be misused and become ineffective. Always use caution when using any collar, but pinch collars should be used with extreme caution as they can cause more serious damage if they are not used correctly. 

Types of Dog Harnesses

Harnesses are larger than regular collars and are fitted around your canine’s chest. This allows any tugging pressure to be distributed around your dog’s body, instead of being focused around the neck. 

1.  Back Clip Harness

Back clip harnesses feature a ring to attach a leash behind your pup’s neck. They usually offer a comfortable fit and are fully adjustable. They can be worn daily and are great for outdoor activities like hiking and swimming when you don’t want to be pulling on your dog’s neck. 

These harnesses are a better fit in some settings, but are not a good option for dogs that normally pull on the leash with a collar on. Correcting bad behavior like pulling at the leash is much harder to do with a back clip harness, it’s best to look into training collar or correction harnesses in these cases. 

2. Front clip harnesses

As their name implies, front clip harnesses feature the leash ring to attach a leash around the front. This design encourages your dog to walk alongside you on a leash, instead of in front. When you pull the leash to correct your dog, this harness allows you to pull them sideways keeping them from walking forward. 

This type of harness provides a gentle correction that is good for dogs who are not normally hard pullers. Dogs who tend to drag you around are likely not to respond to this harness and may need a more severe correction.

3. Dual clip harnesses

Dual clip harnesses feature a leash ring in the front and in the back of the harness. This gives owners the freedom to switch between leash positions depending on their dog’s behavior or walking habits. They offer the same comfort of a back clip harness with the gentle correction of a front clip harness.

There are also dual clip leashes that can go along with the harness to allow a quick transition between the two clips. 

4. Head halter harnesses

Head halter harnesses feature a strap that goes around your canine’s muzzle and the back of their head. When attached to a leash, head halter harnesses allow owners to easily control their canine’s head. If your dog tends to get distracted by other dogs or people on their walks, a head halter could be a good opinion for you.

While the head harness helps to keep your dogs focused on you, it also helps to keep them from pulling. This harness makes it uncomfortable for your dog to pull against you, resulting in a more well mannered walk all around.

Which Option is Right for My Dog?

All dogs are different, there is no one right answer when it comes to making the choice between a collar or harness. Most dog owners will end up using more than one of the options listed. If you’re working on getting your dog to be more well behaved on the walk, you may start with a training collar. After a while, once your dog has their walking manners down, you may want to move to a front clip harness or a martingale collar. You know your dog best, but it is always a good idea to get a professional opinion from a certified trainer. 

Looking for a trainer in the Charlotte, NC area? Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking offers an extensive Resource Page with recommended professional behaviorists & trainers as well as vets, groomers, rescues, and more!