By Guest Contributor, Emily Conklin
Introducing your dog to a leash can present you with a dilemma. You have to decide whether you want to walk your dog with just their collar or with the aid of a harness. There are pros and cons no matter which option you decide is right for your dog. Here are the pros and cons of each so that you can make a more informed decision.
A collar is something that is easier for your dog to get used to wearing. It's more comfortable for them to wear on a daily basis. You may not even remove your dog's collar when you're at home. This can make it more convenient for you to get your dog out the door for a walk. All you have to do is hook the leash onto their collar, and then you're off.
Another benefit is that the collar already has your dog's identification tags. Your dog's collar might also contain their license and rabies information. This will help your dog to be returned to you in the event that they wander away from you. A collar is a sign that your dog has a home. People are more likely to be able to return your dog without having to take it somewhere to check if there is a microchip.
Exclusively using a collar for training may not be the ideal solution for your dog. As your dog pulls on the leash, it can cause pressure on their throat and trachea. This presents a health risk for some breeds of dog. Pugs, for instance, experience increased eye pressure as a result of pulling on a collar during walks. You run the risk of causing their eyes to protrude out of their eye sockets. This pressure can worsen glaucoma and other eye conditions in your dog.
You may notice your dog coughing excessively while you're trying to take them for a walk. In some dogs, the extra pressure can cause the trachea to collapse. This can lead to other health problems. Your dog pulling with just the collar could cause damage to the thyroid gland.
A harness allows you to have better control over your dog when you're training them. The harness acts as a lever when your dog pulls. Meaning that their front legs will come off of the ground. This is counterproductive to your dog's goal. They learn more quickly that it's ineffective to continue pulling you along.
Your dog is also unable to jump on people as they pass you. This can lead to you teaching your dog proper greeting etiquette when you're out on the town. Dogs that are easily distracted benefit more from a harness. This is because you have better control when it comes to directing their movements.
Younger dogs are less likely to hurt themselves getting tangled up in the leash. This is another benefit of having greater control. Older dogs also benefit from a harness. The harness allows you to help them back to their feet and provides a little bit more support to help them walk.
A harness can be more difficult for you to put on your dog. It's best to start getting your dog used to the harness at as young an age as possible. Older dogs may be more resistant to you strapping them into something that is uncomfortable. Until you and your dog get used to taking the harness on and off, the process will take time. Having the cooperation of your dog will make it easier.
Harnesses are not designed to be worn all the time. This means that there is unlikely to be a place for your dog's identification tags. Your dog will need to continue to wear their collar underneath the harness. This will ensure that your dog can be returned to you in the event that they get away. If your dog isn't microchipped, there may not be any way for you to get your dog back.
Not all harnesses are created equal. How the harness snaps together is important too. For example, a back clipping harness may be easier to install, but can break apart if your dog pulls hard enough. Use a front clipping harness that is rated for the weight of your dog in order to prevent them from breaking away.
There are pros and cons to both collars and harnesses. You have to take your dog's disposition into account when selecting what is right for you. For training purposes and for dogs that pull, a harness may prove to be more beneficial than a collar. Decide what works for you and your dog when it comes to choosing whether you want to use a harness or a collar.
Emily Conklin, an author for Gladwire.com. When she’s not writing, she enjoys skiing, traveling and playing with her bunny. Recently she wrote a helpful article about the best dog harnesses guide for 2018.