When it comes to walking or training your four-legged friend, one of the key components that come into play is the choice between a dog collar and a dog harness. This seemingly simple decision can actually have far-reaching implications, affecting not only the dog’s comfort but also its health and safety.
Harnesses have become increasingly popular in recent years, often being recommended by veterinarians and canine behaviourists.
However, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s explore the pros and cons of dog harnesses, as compared to traditional collars, and offer advice on how to measure your dog for a harness.
Pros of Dog Harnesses
A dog harness provides better control over your pet compared to a standard collar. Harnesses distribute pressure over a larger area of the dog’s body, which makes it easier to guide or restrain your dog, particularly in busy or high-stress body parts particularly to dogs that have microchip.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Traditional collars can exert pressure on the dog’s neck, potentially causing harm to the trachea, especially if the dog tends to pull. Harnesses, however, distribute the force across the chest and shoulders, reducing the risk of injury.
Better for Dogs with Respiratory Issues
For breeds prone to respiratory issues or conditions like tracheal collapse, a harness is often the safer option. It avoids putting any additional strain on the neck and airways.
Training a puppy or an adult dog to walk properly is often easier with a harness. The better control and guidance allow for a more direct and effective training experience.
Variety and Customization
Harnesses come in various styles and functionalities. Whether you need a harness for hiking, service work, or everyday walks, there’s likely an option tailored for your needs.
Cons of Dog Harnesses
Complexity and Time-Consuming
Putting on a harness can be more complicated and time-consuming than simply slipping on a collar, especially for dogs that are not accustomed to wearing one.
Generally, harnesses are more expensive than collars. The more specialised the harness, the higher the price can go.
Potential for Chafing
Some harnesses may cause chafing if they are not well-fitted or if they are made from materials that can irritate a dog’s skin.
Overconfidence in Control
The additional control offered by a harness might lead some owners to be less diligent in training their dogs to walk properly, relying solely on the control offered by the harness.
Collars vs. Harnesses: A Brief Comparison
While collars are simpler and often cheaper, they may not be suitable for all dogs. Collars can be effective for dogs that are well-trained and do not pull on the leash, but they can be dangerous for dogs with respiratory issues or neck injuries. Harnesses offer more control and are safer for the dog’s neck and back, but they can be more cumbersome and expensive.
How to Properly Measure Your Dog for a Harness
- Measure the Girth: Use a soft measuring tape to measure around the largest part of your dog’s chest, usually just behind the front legs.
- Measure the Neck: For some types of harnesses, you’ll also need to measure around the base of your dog’s neck.
- Weight: While not a measurement per se, your dog’s weight can sometimes be a necessary metric depending on the brand and style of harness you are considering.
- Consult Size Charts: Always consult the size chart for the specific brand you are looking at. Sizes are not universal across brands.
- Try Before You Buy: If possible, it’s always best to try the harness on your dog before finalising your purchase.
- Adjust and Check for Fit: Once you’ve selected a harness, adjust the straps and check for proper fit. You should be able to slip two fingers between the harness and your dog’s skin.
The choice between a collar and a harness depends on various factors such as your dog’s breed, health, and the activities you plan to undertake. Harnesses offer many benefits in terms of safety and control but come with their own set of drawbacks such as complexity and cost.
Taking the time to measure your dog can ensure that you choose a harness that offers the benefits you’re looking for without causing discomfort or harm. As always, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian or a canine behaviourist to determine the best option for your pet.