Every dog owner probably owns- or has owned a collar for their dog, and you are unlikely to find someone who does not know what a dog collar is. They are everywhere – on dogs, of dogs, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What some people might not know, though, is that there are alternatives that may or may not be better for walking your dogs – such as a big or small dog harness, and it is always a good idea to know what the options are, as it makes it easier to make the right decision for your four-legged friend and for yourself.
A dog collar is usually made of leather, fabric, nylon or other similar materials, and it goes around the neck of the dog. It has been the perhaps most common dog accessory for centuries; as it can be used to walk a dog when attaching a leash, to add a doggy I.D tag to, or simply to make your dog look a little extra cute. Every pet store and bigger supermarket offer a large variety of dog collars, and there are several different varieties to choose from.
There are regular collars that you adjust to the width of the dog’s neck for a perfect fit, choke chains designed to discourage pulling (due to getting tighter and tighter as the dog pulls), the Martingale collar which could be described as a combination of a regular collar and a choke chain and much more.
Collar Pros & Cons
One of the great things about a collar is that it can be worn all the time; making it ideal for attaching a dog tag with a phone number and perhaps an address, in case your favorite fur friend would decide to head off on an adventure and get a little lost. It is every dog owner’s nightmare, but sometimes no matter how careful you are being – accidents happen, and then it’s good to have something on your dog that can direct them back home.
If you’re out walking at night, an LED collar is a great way to ensure safety as well as look cool!
Collars are accessible, easy to put on and take off, dogs get used to them quickly and they come in so many different shapes, sizes and varieties that it is a piece of cake to find one that you like. They are, however, not ideal for walking with a least. The problem is that they sit around the sensitive neck of the dog, which could cause injury when the dog pulls, or if you yank too hard on the leash (get a retractable leash to help mitigate this).
It is a common misconception that the dog’s neck is made for it; to withstand pulls and yanks, but the truth is that they just get used to it. Their necks start developing more muscle; making them stronger, but just imagine what it would be like to have something press against your throat, restricting your access to oxygen, every time you tried to go forward…?
Small dogs are at bigger risk of injury when walked with a collar since they are not big enough to be dragged around by their necks. A sudden pull could cause pain or more serious injury – such as a crushed windpipe.
A Harness & How it Works
A harness distributes the pressure across the body, rather than to focus it on the neck and throat. It makes it a more ergonomic option where the dog does not have to force the neck muscles as they move forward. Most harnesses wrap around the chest and stomach, which leaves the neck free from strain and pressure; protecting the whole body including the spine.
There are different models to choose from, such as no-pull harnesses with front-clips, harnesses that you put over the dog’s head and others that can be put on without having to involve the head (for dogs that don’t like to have their heads touched), and there are countless materials, models and designs.
What Makes a Harness the Better Choice?
While a traditional collar has its benefits and individual charm – the harness is safer to use for both small and large dogs. It makes it more fun for the dog to be out and about since they don’t have to feel that pressure around their necks that block their air supply, and surprisingly enough it does also give the walker more stability for when the dog pulls.
If you have a puller, it is easy to think that a collar will stop them from pulling due to it being uncomfortable, but in reality – it might make it worse. Studies have shown that the unpleasant pressure against their windpipes and around their necks might actually trigger a dog to pull more, and as their neck muscles grow stronger and stronger – you end up with a dog that is increasingly harder to hold back.
A better choice is to go with a harness that is designed to prevent pulling, as these don’t physically harm the dog, or to just try out a regular harness and see for yourself how it might become easier to restrain the dog despite them pulling for their lives. Collars as a mean for walking are becoming somewhat outdated, especially now with all the harness models that have become available, and it might be time for an update.
A harness is both a safer and more humane accessory for walking your favorite fur pup so that you can both enjoy the walk on somewhat equal terms.
What About the Doggy I.D Tag?
So, if ditching the collar, what do you do about the I.D tag? A tag is important for if (or when) your dog gets lost, so those good Samaritans can contact you if they find him or her. Using a harness for walks does not mean that you can’t keep tour dog’s collar too and leave it on also when at home.
It is a good idea to put a tag on the harness as well if the leash would break during a walk, or if you would accidentally drop the leash, or you could just leave a collar on when out and about but attach the leash to the harness instead of to the collar.
Some dog owners still prefer the collar to the harness, which is okay, because when it comes down to it – you know your dog best. It is recommended, however, to give the harness a chance, especially if you have never tried using one before.
Find a quality product that suits your needs, try it out and once you have experience using both – choose what feels right for you and your fur friend.