There is sometimes a bit of debate amongst pet parents which is better: a collar or a harness.
While all of my dogs have adorable collars, personally, I prefer to use a harness for all my dogs when I walk them and will explain why.
First, I find it much easier to walk a dog (and especially a dog that pulls) with a harness. With a collar, if a dog pulls, they are going going to choke themselves. If you have a dog who pulls, a harness will put broad pressure across the chest instead of the neck. Another reason is that many trainers (good trainers anyways) will recommend a harness that not only have a clip for the leash in the back (like almost all harnesses do), but recommend one with a clip for the leash in the front of the harness. Using the harness and clipping the leash in the front makes it much more difficult for a dog to pull and can make walking a dog that likes to pull much more manageable.
If you have a dog that was bred to pull, try Canine Equipment’s Ultimate Pulling Harness.
I know pulling is a reason why there are some people out there who choose to use things like choke and prong collars as a way to prevent their dog from pulling, I am 100% against them and choose to use force free training for all of my dogs.
The second reason I use a harness is safety. What do I mean by that?
Have you ever seen or heard of dogs slipping out of their collars? I have and I’ve had dogs that have done this, including Dolly. You obviously don’t want a collar to be extremely tight around a dog’s neck if you choose to use one. But, dogs have a way a maneuvering their head and slipping out of them.
Dolly is a dog that will full on stop if she’s scared and the one time my husband and I took her around the block with just her collar thinking it would be fine, it wasn’t. She stopped, we went forward and the next thing I know, her collar and leash are on the ground and she’s starting to run away. I can’t even begin to describe the ultimate panic I felt at that moment. Thankfully, I somehow managed to stay calm and called her back over to me and she can came right over. That also shows the progress we’ve made with her since her days of hiding under in the office under the desk and shaking.
It is possible that dogs can and do slip out of harnesses if they are not properly fitted (as was the case for Max years ago where he had dropped some weight and the harness was too loose so he was able to slip to of it) or you are not using the right kind of harness. What does that mean?
Going back to Dolly, I had changed the type of harness for her last year as the one harness she did have, caused so much chafing across her chest, she lost hair.
So I decided to get her a harness that would be much kinder to her sensitive skin and would be comfortable for her.
The harness was great for dogs that pulled…. forward. If your dog pulls, the harness gets tighter. If a dog is not pulling forward, it’s not as tight. Dolly, is not a dog that pulls forward, but instead pulls backwards.
I was walking the dogs one day when a couple of small children wanted to say hello. I allowed it (as they asked and their dad was right there), but I did not see at first that the one child was holding a huge stick. Dolly saw it as the child was approaching and got scared. So I asked the child to put the stick down, which they in turn, threw the large sick down. At the moment, I felt Dolly’s leash let go of tension. I look back and she had shipped out of her harness and like previously, was starting to run away. I immediately, dropped Freckles and Max’s leashes, got down to get level and calmly walked over to her and was able to grab her with one hand and put her harness back on with the other one while having to ask the children to just give her space. Thankfully, we were only one block away from our house. I immediately put her in the car and we went to Homes Alive to buy her a new harness, which is the harness she currently wears.
My dogs still wear collars and bandanas, but wear them more as accessories. They will always use a harness for walks. As I always say, do what works for you and your dog (except trying doing so using force free training).