Collar vs. Harness: Which One Is Best For Your Dog?

Is your dog a puller and constantly coughing? Does he chase after every squirrel or leaf that blows by? Collars and harnesses are tools to use for walking your dog, but will not fix the problem of pulling. To properly teach your dog how to walk on a leash, you need to train your dog with positive reinforcement.

Maybe you just adopted a dog and headed to the store to get all the essentials. You froze in the dog accessory aisle with glazed-over eyes, staring at all the options. No matter what personality or breed of dog, there is a perfect harness or collar for each one. Use these pros and cons to find it.

Photo: The Animal Rescue Site Store


Collars are very popular and the original way to walk your dog. There are many types ranging from flat collars to martingales to GPS collars. Collars can be useful for identification. Choke, prong, and shock collars should never be used. They only inflict pain and a negative feeling towards walking. Positive reinforcement and proper training are the avenues to take with a dog who pulls.

The Humane Society of the United States states, “Some trainers use aversive collars to train “difficult” dogs with correction or punishment. These collars rely on physical discomfort or even pain to teach the dog what not to do. They suppress the unwanted behavior, but they don’t teach the dog what the proper behavior is. At best, they are unpleasant for your dog, and at worst, they may cause your dog to act aggressively and even bite you.”

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Collar Pros

  • They are a way to identify your dog by attaching the ID tags with your number and dog’s name and their rabies vaccination tag.
  • Collars are usually made out of comfortable materials that do not irritate dogs.
  • Collar Cons

  • Some types choke dogs that pull on a leash. The pressure on the trachea can cause permanent damage. The constant pulling can cause a collapsed trachea with a raspy cough.
  • Intense eye pressure on short-faced dogs like pugs. The pressure around the neck can make their eyes pop out!
  • Not a useful training tool. The collar only pulls on the neck of the dog and does not allow for proper training when teaching the dog how to properly walk on a leash.
  • Dogs can escape or slip out of them if they are too loose.
  • Photo: The Animal Rescue Site Store


    Walking dogs with a harness has increased because they fit certain breeds better and overall are a gentler approach. There are multiple types of harnesses like a front clip, back clip, and head harness. They are more gentle than a collar because they do not put pressure on the neck. Instead, a harness attaches around the torso and pulls on the body. The head harness attaches over the muzzle and gently turns the head of the dog to face you.

    Harness Pros

  • Made of breathable and comfortable fabric.
  • Designed to fit all shapes and sizes.
  • Puts pressure on the body, not the neck.
  • Allows your dog to breathe freely without constriction.
  • Provides more control to keep your dog from jumping.
  • Cannot escape or slip a harness. They are safer and are nearly impossible to escape.
  • Great training tool. A harness does not reward pulling and allows you to start training a puppy correctly.
  • Harness Cons

  • Some dogs may take some time to adjust to the feeling of it on their body.
  • Photo: The Animal Rescue Site Store

    With so many choices out there, it can be hard to decide if you want a collar vs. harness. Each dog is different and will require a different solution depending on size, manners, breed, and training. It is worth the effort to find the perfect fit so your dog can enjoy the walk without harm. No matter which you decide, be sure you attach identification tags in case your dog gets away.

    Shop for collars and harnesses at The Animal Rescue Site Store!

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