Should my dog have a dog collar or a harness? The answer is different depending on whether you are out for a walk in downtown Newburyport versus home in your yard, or traveling in a car to see friends. The question is real and we hear it all the time at The Beach Dog Daycare. Let’s compare the benefits of using a dog collar versus a harness and situations where you should consider using both. We first looked into training purposes and whether the benefits of using a dog collar or a harness outweigh one over the other.
There comes a time in all dog training when it’s time to take them out of their home environment to test their reactions to outside, unfamiliar, stimulants. Now remember every dog trains differently as every trainer instructs differently. There are guidelines that you can utilize, but let’s face it, not all of us are professional trainers. A dog’s natural behavior is to pull. When leash training, your dog can be further triggered to pull in reaction to an unfamiliar stimulant. Be it another dog, a smell, a squirrel, or other small animals, and other humans… a reactive response can come from just about anything. When leashed to a collar and the dog pulls, the human response is to pull back. This can be dangerous and cause injury or harm to your dog. Instinctively the human knows this, so they release the pull and tension on the leash. Inadvertently you are teaching your dog that a pull means move forward. When leash training, we recommend using a harness. The harness controls your dog from his chest down through his midsection, also controlling the dog’s center of gravity. So controllability does not cause injury and your chances of redirecting the pull become better. Most of the research, when leash training your dog, leans towards a dog harness being the better option than a dog collar. Remember to start leash training in your dog’s familiar surroundings. He should become voice controlled. Unfortunately some dogs seem to forget their verbal commands when they are put into new situations. When leash training the benefits of using a dog collar or a harness leans towards the harness as the smarter option. Reinforce with whatever reward system you use when training at home. Your pooch will catch on.
Next let’s look at wearability and the benefits of using a dog collar or a harness. Many dog owners only use the harness during typical scenarios throughout the day. Most do not leave the harness on all day, because a harness can cause rubbing, sores, hair loss, and just be uncomfortable for longevity purposes. So typically the collar supersedes the harness for everyday use.
Another popular question we found in regards to the benefits of using a dog collar versus a harness, relates to attaching your dog to a runner in the yard. We all know a Houdini dog type, every time you latch him on his runner outside he disappears. This is where the benefits of using a dog collar or a harness start to equalize. Here’s why. Some dog breeds are just smart enough to get off of the runner, some dog breeds have a thick neck in proportion to the size of their skull, this makes it easy to pull the leash over their head. Likewise some breeds have a long narrow skull shape, again, perfect for the slip and skip tactic. If you have a Houdini dog type then you know not only is your dog gone but he has left behind important contact information. Typically the collar is still attached to the lead and all of your dog’s tags are attached to the collar. If you’re lucky your neighbors are familiar with your dog, and don’t call the dog officer. But should the dog officer have to retrieve your dog, it’s going to get pricey and without tags, his first few visits might be longer than you’d like. The obvious solution is it’s harder for your dog to get loose on a harness, but believe that there are dogs that do. Chances are, if you only use the harness to leash your dog outside, then his tags are on his collar. Once again you have a loose dog with no identification. So what we have found at The Beach Dog Daycare is that dog owners opt to keep the leash on but harness the dog to the outside line. Doing this lowers the risk of escape of a dog on the run with no contact information.
Lastly is a reinforced idea of the Houdini Dog. Let’s talk about when you travel with your furry friend. It is never a good idea to tether a dog in a vehicle by the collar. If there was a chance of an abrupt stop or a vehicle accident, your dog would become a projectile and all of that energy would become displaced on the neck, causing serious injury or worse. Likewise it’s always a good idea to tether your dog when in a motor vehicle, this prevents a distraction and it ensures your dog’s safety. Most cars have a latch located in the rear seats or in the rear dash board. These latches were designed for infant car seats. Tether your dog to the vehicle using the same latches. Do not tether to a dog collar, instead clip to a harness. For other tips on vehicle safety check out Vehicle Safety for You and Your Dog. So when it comes to the benefits of using a dog collar or a harness while traveling, it appears the harness is the safest option. Although, just as with the Houdini dog, breaking loose and roaming the neighborhood, a loose dog in an unfamiliar environment becomes a lot harder to recover. Again, if your dog tags are located on his or her dog collar, then ultimately the benefits of using a dog collar or a harness becomes both.
The dog market in this economy is booming. As dog owners we have many options. When it comes to the benefits of using a dog collar or a harness, the best decision is to have both. It is recommended that the dog collar, complete with tags, remain on your dog at all times, although little breaks and a good scratch is always appreciated by your furry family member. Use the dog harness for specified situations, a harness might not be a good choice for daily wearability, as it can be uncomfortable. Keep the collar on even when you use the harness. This ensures your dog’s important information is with your dog at all times. If you found this helpful check out the Beach Dog Daycare Blog for a selection of articles on a wide variety of topics.