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Collar or harness?

Thread starter #1
Collars are probably among the first things dog owners buy, but I've heard there are risks associated to them (for instance, pulling your dog too hard could hurt and even suffocate them), so I've considered some alternatives, like harnesses. Are they actually safer, or is it just a myth? What are the reasons why you should choose one over the other?


New Member
I have a chihuahua, so for us a harness is a must-have. One of the most common injuries chihuahuas get is a collapsed trachea from pulling on the leash too hard. He does wear a collar too (like all dogs should, so they can wear their identification tags) but it's one of those tear-away cat collars.

Personally, for walks I think bigger dogs are okay with collars if they don't pull or lunge on the leash. But if for toy breeds, and dogs that pull a lot or are scared easily, a harness is a safer and more comfortable alternative. Better safe than sorry!
I think that a harness is always a safer bet for any dog. They are less likely to break, or to suffocate your dog if they pull to hard. My dog does always have a collar on with my information on it though. Harnesses can be purchased fairly inexpensively and are a good investment for any dog owner.
I think there is a psychological factor that makes the dog don't pull that hard while wearing a collar. Of course, this is only based on my own experience, nothing researched or anything like that. For example my dog behaves very nice with a collar, doesn't pull at all, but the times I have tried to get him to wear the harnesses he goes crazy like he doesn't recognizes it as a leash.
Some dogs don't understand that the reason why they are choking is because they are pulling, hence why some dogs end up with a collapsed trachea. Harnesses not only help prevent a collapsed trachea, but they give the owner better control of the dog when they pull. Alternatively, you can use a lead (it goes around the snout), most dogs hate it but owners that use it love it, and claim that their dog stops pulling instantly.

Side note: if you have a small dog, do not use a collar to walk them, they are smaller therefore they are more fragile than bigger dogs, and are more likely to be injured if they pull.
My dogs easily start coughing when they're being held by their collars. It's never been a big issue until the dogs I have now, but my current dogs just start coughing from even a slight yank. After we got harnesses, ones that were padded even, it not only became much easier on them to be restrained every now and then but it also became much easier for me to control them. They had a major pulling problem before the harnesses and now they're easy as pie to control. Collars are good to have for identification and as a backup method of control, but I can't recommend harnesses enough.
Collars for dogs and harnesses for cats. I practice walking my dogs in the house or in the backyard with the collar so they know how to act. When they are familiar with how far I'm okay with them going, they don't run off or tug so hard that they hurt themselves. You can't collar a cat, they just slip out of it, you need a vest or harness if you want to walk a cat.
Dogs will tug on their collar but they know when it get's too unbearable they will stop tugging. A collar is the best way I've found to get their attention. To snap them out of that little stare they get and their attention is elsewhere and not on what you tell them to do.
Dogs will tug on their collar but they know when it get's too unbearable they will stop tugging. A collar is the best way I've found to get their attention. To snap them out of that little stare they get and their attention is elsewhere and not on what you tell them to do.
That's not necessarily true, my dog, along with my sister-in-laws' dog pull until they're heaving, and/or throwing up. Some dogs don't understand that they are the cause of their choking, and try to get away from it, which ultimately causes more choking.
I've used both, and let me tell you something, a smart dog will quickly find the away to escape a collar when some day, by accident, they realize that if they pull backwards the thing slides up their head, so make sure that, if you are going to use a collar, the thing is properly secured, but not too tight though, because you could hurt your dog, remember, you should be able to insert 2 fingers between the collar and their body. Meanwhile, I don't see how a dog could ever escape a harness.
If your problem is tugging or excessive pulling realize that this should be solved by persistent and patient training, not by changing from a collar to a harness or vice versa.
Every dog we've ever had even had elastic parts on its collar to help prevent it from choking when it tugs, etc. They've never reacted strangely since that's the first thing we do when they were pups. Harnesses I never used since we had the farmland and never needed it. I have no idea how to buy harnesses either.


New Member
We've used both collars and harnesses for our dogs. We use harnesses when they're still small and then shift to collars when they've grown bigger. When they're young and small, they're more fragile. So it's much safer to use harnesses on them.
My dog always has a collar on, but it has this soft patch, so he won't choke. He's big enough that a harness simply won't work well. I tried a harness a couple of times, and he somehow ended up breaking it- maybe the quality was not great or whatever. But, since then, I have used collars.
I have to use a harness because no matter how we train him, our pup will occasionally spaz out and get really excited about something and kind of run forward at a crazy speed, basically judo chopping himself in the neck with his collar.
My dog has a really long neck and from the first time we ever walked him, the slightest tug would cause him to cough loudly, so we had to buy him a harness for walking. As bad as this probably is, we don't really put his collar on unless we are walking him but he coughs any time someone grabs the collar (although at this point he could just be acting like a drama queen!)
I could not live with the idea of putting a collar around my dog and choking it's neck every single time we have to deter him from urinating on the neighbor's mailbox. The harness distributes the force over more area, and thus, is a safer option to make sure you don't harm your dog while taking him or her for a walk.
Harnesses sound safer to me, but then again I'm traumatized by a kid almost dragging my puppy on a damn leash. (One of the reasons why I don't like toddlers) I was young too, so I didn't see it coming. I would only have a collar on his neck for ID/Contact purposes.
I've never had a problem with just a collar, but that could depend on the dog as well. I can see needing a harness if you seem to always have to pull on the leash. I wouldn't want just a collar for that. For example my brothers dos needs a harness, he's all over the place and they need to pull constantly. But my dog is great with just the collar, I don't need to pull at all and of course the collar has her tags and information on it as well.
I use both. I bought a collar for my dog as, at least to me, it shows ownership. It tells others that this dog belongs to someone. I use the harness if I take him for a walk or if we are going into a pet friendly store. It allows me to direct the dog easier in a public place and I don't have to be concerned with accidentally choking him.
I used to use a harness on my biggest dog, because he destroyed a regular collar in order to his strength, and that just worked really good for me, and he seems to be more confortable with his harness.
But when it comes to my little dog, collars are a great option for him, I am really careful to not pulling him hard of it because he's so small, and that could really hurt him. But I've never had problems with that.
So... I think it depends on the size of your dog and the dog in general, not every dog feels comfortable with the same things, I guess.