Harness Vs. Collar: Which Is Best For My Dog?

It depends on your dog's personality 🐶

best dog harness vs collar

Dog parents seem to be torn when it comes to the harness vs. collar debate.

Whether you’re brand-new to pet parenting, or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s fair to wonder whether a collar or a harness would be best for your dog.

The Dodo spoke with Iris Ulbrich, a behavior consultant and trainer with Tully’s Training in Los Angeles, who broke down the pros and cons of both harnesses and collars.

“A collar secures a dog around his neck, while a harness is positioned around the chest of the dog,” Ulbrich said. “Both are attached to leashes to ensure the dog is safe and can’t run away.”

Here’s how to tell which option is best for your pup.

When to get a collar

You see dogs in collars all the time, since this is the more traditional choice. But “traditional” doesn’t always mean “universal best.”

According to Ulbrich, collars are best suited for dogs who are well-behaved with more chill personalities.

“Collars are a ... great tool that can be used as long as the dog has a calm demeanor, knows basic obedience, has impulse control, doesn’t pull and communicates well with their owner,” she explained.

The type of collar you should get depends on your dog.

“[For] collars I recommend flat collars with either a buckle or a quick release snap,” Ulbrich said. “Occasionally I recommend a martingale collar [a collar with a more complicated buckle] for breeds with a wide neck or a small head, such as greyhounds and whippets, as they easily slip out of regular collars and the martingale effect prevents that if used properly.”

Try this quick release collar from Amazon for $10.99

Or this buckle collar from Amazon for $17.81

If your dog would benefit from a martingale collar, try this one from Chewy for $6.09.

Downsides to collars

Since collars work best with dogs who are more mellow and well-trained, they might not be the best choice if your pup is a bit on the wild side.

“If your dog pulls or is untrained, then the collar will most likely cause a very frustrating, uncomfortable walk and a sore arm,” Ulbrich explained.

The other downside to collars is that some people might use them as a way to reprimand their dog in a way that could be harmful.

“Unfortunately, martingale collars are too often misused as choke collars, so I try to only recommend them to owners dedicated to positive reinforcement training,” Ulbrich said.

When to get a harness

Sometimes, harnesses are the better choice for your dog.

“Harnesses are a preferred walking and training tool when you either have a dog that is very strong and has the tendency to pull, or when you have a very small dog that could easily slip out of a regular collar,” Ulbrich explained.

Since harnesses wrap around your dog’s torso, they provide more stability when handling your pup.

Not to mention, they can also be a bit more comfortable for your BFF.

“The harness takes a lot of negative attention away from the neck and allows for an even distribution of pressure around the chest,” Ulbrich said.

Try this harness from Chewy for $9.90

Downsides to harnesses

When it comes to harnesses, most of them clip onto your dog’s back, which can make things tricky when it comes to keeping your pup under control on walks.

“The back clip allows the dog to pull and also creates the perfect angle for them to jump, especially if the handler walks the dog on a short leash,” Ulbrich explained.

To help with this issue, try this no-pull harness from Amazon for $16.98.

The winner: harness vs. collar

There are cases to be made for both sides of the harness vs. collar debate.

But according to Ulbrich, there is a clear frontrunner.

“As a trainer my preferred training tool is a front clip harness over a collar for most dogs, with or without behavioral issues,” she said.

Try this one from Amazon for $22.95

“Puppies and sometimes grown dogs are easily distracted on a walk, have not been taught impulse control or basic obedience and are not born natural heel walkers,” Ulbrich explained. “It takes a lot of systematic and intentional training to properly introduce a dog to obedience on leash.”

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