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Should I Use a Dog Collar or Harness?

Collar vs. Harness

Dog owners often ask whether it is better to walk a dog using a leash and collar or a leash and a harness. This is actually not a question any veterinarian or dog expert can answer definitively because there is no one type of leash, collar or harness that works for all dogs. Instead, each dog owner must discover the best option for his or her dog. The guide below provides some general guidelines for choosing the type of collar or harness that is best for your dog.


Collars are convenient, widely available and safe for most dogs. They can, however, hurt your dogs neck if you don’t handle your end properly.

Traditional Collars

For many dogs, traditional collars are a great choice. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, and if properly fitted, most dogs can wear them even when not being walked on a leash. This allows owners to keep identification tags on their dogs while they are free in the yard or the house.

While most dogs do very well with standard collars, there are some dogs that need alternative collars or harnesses. Dogs that should not use traditional collars include the following:

• Those with medical issues, such as neck or throat problems or esophageal or tracheal conditions, that make it dangerous for them to have pressure on their necks.
• Most small dogs especially under 15 pounds.
• Dogs with very flat faces.
• Those that constantly lunge or pull when walked on leashes.
• Those with necks that are the same size as their heads or larger.

Training and Specialty Collars

Specialty and training collars, such as prong collars, are sometimes recommended for dogs that have trouble with leash training. These types of collars, however, are unsafe for puppies and are not recommended for most adult dogs. To be safe, it is best to use such collars as a last resort.

Harnesses and Halters

Harnesses and Head Halters are popular alternatives to collars. They are appropriate for dogs that cannot wear traditional collars for behavioural or health reasons.


A harness with a leash attachment on the back is an ideal choice for a dog that cannot tolerate tension on their throat. Such a harness is not, however, appropriate for a dog that pulls. A harness that has a leash attachment in the center of the chest is a much better choice for a dog that tends to pull on the leash or lunge when walked. This type of harness gives the owner increased control.

Head Collars or Halters

Veterinarians, canine behaviourists and trainers often recommend head collars, which work like horse halters, for dogs that pull, lunge or bolt when walked on leashes. Head collars are humane alternatives to spiked collars, slip collars and prong collars because they give owners more control than traditional collars or harnesses provide, but they do not inflict pain on dogs.

If you are not sure what type of collar or harness is best for your dog, your dog has a medical problem or you have exhausted all of the usual options without success, consider consulting a reputable trainer for assistance. Having an appropriate collar, harness or halter that is properly fitted and adjusted makes leash training and leash walking easier, safer and more enjoyable for you and your dog.

Our stock of harnesses, collars and leashes is sure to have the right choice for your pup. Give us a call or come by our storefront to see what we have today.


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