Pet Collars and Harnesses
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
Pet owners all have varying tastes when it comes to dog gear. One of the ongoing debates in the dog world is the harness vs collar topic and there seems to be benefits of using either kind of these canine restraint devices. In this blog, we will look at both collars and harnesses and try to help you determine which one might be best for your four legged buddy.
Harness Or Collar? The Benefits Of Both
The standard, classic collar is by far the most common way to hold a dog on a leash. It’s a very convenient option because most dogs wear their collars 24/7 and the animal’s tags are always on display. The main issue that most people have with collars is that when misused, they can be the main cause of neck injuries in dogs that wear them. If you have a dog that tends to be a "puller" when being walked on a leash, this kind of intense pressure can injure the neck area. In addition, dog owners who have a dog on a collar/leash can also injure their neck region by pulling back on the animal as well.
There are several varieties of collars, some having better reputations than others. The prong or so-called choke collar is very controversial, as it is designed to pinch the dog’s neck with metal prongs when pulled. For more information on prong/choke collars, click here. A more universally accepted type of collar is the Martingale, which is a type of slip collar, designed to close tighter around the dog’s neck when the animal pulls on the leash. This tends to prevent the dog from slipping out of the collar.
A harness is another popular restraint option that many pet owners use. A harness does not go around the dog’s neck, but rather around the back and chest area. Whereas a collar tends to put a lot of pressure on the neck area, a harness distributes pressure more evenly and over a wider area. Many pet owners feel as though they tend to have more control over a dog on a harness because you are influencing a much larger part of the body when on a leash. In addition, exerting pressure on a dog from the back or chest has more impact on the dog’s center of gravity than a collar does. There are usually two options when attaching a leash on a harness. The first one is behind the back, in between the shoulder blades, and the second location is in the center of the chest (front clipping harness). Many training harnesses have the leash attachment on the chest, as having control over the dog’s center of gravity can be a very effective training tool.
Choosing a collar over a harness will be a matter of preference for the owner and should factor in the personality of the dog. Although there are benefits to both collars and harnesses, most vets agree that a harness is much better for certain breeds, such as short nosed (brachycephalic) dogs. For more information about flat faced dogs, click here. If your dog is a puller, a collar is not the best option based on the possibility of neck injuries. Not only can a collar injure the bones and muscles in the neck, but also the respiratory system. Harnesses are good to use for training as they tend to give you more control over the dog’s movements. Even if you choose a harness, you can still fit your favorite Fido with a nifty collar to wear at the same time! For after all, your dog should always be fashionable!
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