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Collar Versus Harness: A Dog Owners Guide

Have you ever noticed that reactive-high-energy dogs can pull on a collar and remain unaffected by your command to stop or heal? Why is it that a harness is more effective when it comes to controlling your dog? Two major factors can be outlined.

First, when your dog is wearing a collar your human response is to pull to stop forward movement, but you are limited to redirecting your furry friend because too much of a tug of war can be dangerous or cause injury. So what do you do? Give in. So what does that teach your dog? A tug means to go. You're enabling the behavior. A collar offers limited control. This leads us to factor two, a harness controls your dog at his center of gravity, at its core, without harm or injury. If you are dealing with a dog that is still being voice trained or is reactive to outside stimulus, a harness is the safest option and best for ultimate control. Remember, a harness doesn't solve the problem, it aids in the solution. You must properly train your dog in the harness. Start at home with voice commands and once your dog responds well, test him in other environments. This article by FitBark highlights 7 tips for harness training your dog. For training, and controllability, when it comes to a collar versus harness the harness proves to be safer, and a better training tool.

How about the freak on a leash, or should I say the freak off the leash? We all know a Houdini dog type. Some dogs, try as we might, are masters of escape. This is mostly because some dog breeds have a thick neck almost equivalent to their skull size. Some Have a more narrow skull shape. These dog shapes give these specific breeds the advantage of a sneaky getaway because they can easily pull a collar off over their head. Not only is your dog gone, but he’s also left behind valuable information as his dog tags are typically left behind on his abandoned collar. When tethering a dog outside, collar versus harness seems to lean in favor of the harness because using a harness restricts his chances of escape and ensures his tags stay with him.

What about size and comfort? Even though harnesses are marketed in various sizes and weight categories, not all dogs are comfortable in a harness. Unfortunately, a harness might not be a practical solution for your dog long-term, or for everyday wearability. It’s also been noted that not all dog harnesses have a good place for dog tags. When it comes to collar vs. harness, the collar can be placed on your pet and left, without a second thought, all day every day. The harness might be better used in specified situations. So when it comes to collar versus harness perhaps both are needed for comfort and control. Keep the collar on for everyday life, and use the harness for shorter durations, and for specific situations.

When researching collar versus harness, it was surprising that not one article I found generally mentioned traveling with your furry friend. This was the first thought that crossed my mind. When it comes to traveling with your dog it’s important to think about safety first. A restrained dog is less likely to get injured or cause a distraction that could result in injuries, to not only your pooch but to you or others. Here is where the harness takes precedence over the collar. You should never restrain your dog in a moving vehicle by the collar. This could result in major injuries, or worse. That being said, your dog should be safely tethered in a moving vehicle. This keeps the dog from being thrown should the vehicle come to an abrupt stop, and it elevates the chance of your dog distracting the driver. Use a harness attached to the latch anchors, typically located on the back dash or in the upper headrest section of car seats. These latch anchors are created as backup attachments to fasten infant car seats. When properly attached to the latch anchors of the motor vehicle, and to the upper back attachment of a dog harness, this could and should be the safest way to travel with your dog. It’s also important to note that a dog harness isn’t the only way to travel with your dog. The Wildest website offers 7 examples of How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car. It’s also worth noting that you should always make sure your dog's tags are attached when traveling with your dog. Again should your dog get free or lost in strange surroundings, your chances are better in retrieving him or her when having the appropriate contact information on the collar or harness. If the harness does not have a good place to fasten tags, use both your dog's harness and collar. Just be sure never to restrain your dog in a moving vehicle by the collar. So when it comes to collar versus harness when traveling with your dog, the harness is safest but keeping the collar on with the harness, to ensure proper dog tags, could be the best answer.

The list goes on when it comes to collar versus harness, but it seems to interchange is the best answer. If your dog is still ‘in training’ or tends to be reactive to outside stimuli, the harness is the best mode for controllability. For some dogs, a harness might not be a good daily option because of comfort and irritability issues. A collar is a better option for identifying purposes. Keep the collar on consistently to ensure your dog tags identify your furry friend at all times. Ultimately, when it comes to collar versus harness it might not be a bad option for most dog owners to have both. Use a collar as a more permanent option, and use a harness for times like training, controllability, and travel.


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