Why to use a dog harness vs a collar?
Dog harnesses! In our household our dogs only walk on harnesses. Whether you have a feisty puppy or a senior canine companion, harnesses have proven to be a game-changer for both dogs and their owners. From enhanced control and reduced strain on the neck to a more enjoyable walking experience, these versatile accessories can make a big difference.
But it’s also important to use the right harness, some are great for some things and not others while others can actually cause lifelong damage to your dogs gait and mobility. Let’s take a look at the best dog harnesses out there!
What to look for in a harness
Not all dog harnesses are equal and honestly there is a LOT out there and it can be overwhelming. Here is what I look for when looking at harnesses
- One that has both a front and back ring to hook a leash on to – this not only gives better control but can help with pulling and unwanted behaviors
- Strength tested – I’ve seen too many harnesses break and made of cheap materials
- Adjustable straps all around! If any straps are too lose your dog has the ability to back out of the harness, and hence making it useless. By using a harness with multiple adjustable straps we can ensure the right fit no matter the shape dog; from golden doodles to boxers and pugs.
- Easy to put on, I have seen certified dog trainers put harness on dogs wrong, again this is dangerous. So I opt for a harness that won’t be hard to put on.
- Y shaped front and not a T shaped front – this is crucial and a must have. Read out entire section below on this.
- Does not move, chafe or rub the dog. Many harnesses simply don’t fit right which can cause rubbing and discomfort on the dog, especially behind their legs int he armpit area. Having adjustable straps helps us avoid this in conjunction with
Why to use a dog harness instead of a collar?
Using a harness instead of a collar for walking dogs offers several benefits for both the owner and the dog.
Reduced Strain on the Neck: When a dog wearing a collar pulls or lunges the pressure is concentrated on the neck area, this can potentially lead to discomfort, strain, or injury to the dog’s neck, throat, or even spine. In contrast, a harness distributes the force more evenly across the dog’s chest and shoulders, reducing the risk of neck-related issues. And while this is really important for those dogs with collapsing trachea it can be dangerous for any dog to have all that pressure put on one spot on their neck.
Enhanced Control: Harnesses provide better control over your dog’s movements. They offer multiple attachment points, usually on the back and/or chest, which allow you to redirect your dog more effectively being a useful aid in training. This is particularly useful for dogs that are strong, prone to pulling, or easily distracted. With a harness, you can guide your dog’s direction without causing harm or discomfort. If you’re looking for tips on leash pulling check out our post here.
Minimized Risk of Escaping: Dogs can sometimes slip out of collars, especially if they have smaller heads or necks relative to their body size. A well-fitted harness, on the other hand, wraps around the chest and often includes adjustable straps for a secure fit. I personally look for a harness that has multiple adjustment points not he straps to ensure a perfect fit no matter the shaped dog. This reduces the likelihood of your dog slipping out and potentially getting loose, which could be extremely dangerous.
Why we won’t use harnesses that cut across the shoulders and you shouldn’t either!
We only use harnesses that have Y-shaped front
A must have! You do not want to use a harness that cut’s across your dogs shoulders. Why? By cutting across your dogs shoulder blades it’s restricting their gait and movement which can lead to mobility issues down the line.
Just imagine if every time you took a step someone held your leg back, you’ll feel this change of gait in your hips, your back and more. While we may not see the changes immediately studies have shown the difference it makes and I will not put these harness on my own dogs or clients dogs. Our video above explains it visually too! This is why you will not see us supporting or using ones such as the PetSafe Easy Walk harness.
Best overall: The Rover Better Walks Dog Harness
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- Has front and back clips
- Doesn’t move around on dog
- Front clip helps control pulling on walks
- Easy to put on with clear labels
- No rubbing
- Y shaped front
- Fully adjustable
- Goes over the head for some dogs that may be aversive to things going over their head.
Blue-9’s Balance Harness
My dog have had many adventures in these and it’s one of our go to harnesses
- Y shaped front
- Front and back clip
- No rubbing
- Fully adjustable
- Neck buckle, which is great for dogs that hate things going over their head.
- While I find it super easy to put on, I’ve had many clients confused by it.
- Some complain it slides around on the dog.
Ruffwear’s Front Range harness
- Covers some of their belly for our outdoor adventures, preventing them picking up twigs, mud etc under there.
- Has front and back clip.
- I don’t find I can get the perfect fit with this harness. And I’ve seen it first some dogs pretty poorly. Mine it’s just slightly too loose in the neck for my liking.
- I do find the front clip isn’t as amazing as the Rover and Blue9 harness as this harness does move around more.
- Goes over the head for some dogs that mad find this aversive.
Ruffwear Webmaster Harness
I use they Ruffwear webmaster harness for a lot of our hiking adventures. It has a second strap that hooks under the belly so makes it another great option for the escape artist dogs. I don’t think Rossi actually loves this stap as it’s a little close to his man parts but it does give me extra support if I need to pick him up to assist when jumping up or down when we are hiking.
- Additional belly strap for our escape artists dogs or to give support when doing activities
- Not everything is super adjustable
- Not all dogs will love the second strap
For the dogs that run hot they make a cooling webmaster, I do have this and absolutely love it for our outdoor adventures. The Ruffwear swampcooler dog harness seems to keep his underside much cooler and helps him cool down.
Sleepypod Clickit Sport
This is our pick for best car harness, while it can be used for walking it’s not our go to for that (but we’ve done it). But most importantly it’s one of the safest products to keeping your pet safe on the road.
- 5 star crash tested by the Center for Pet Safety, a third party crash testing site
- Sleepypod has never had a pet injured in an accident in their products
- Dogs under 18lbs should ride in a crash tested carrier (Sleepypod carries those too).
- In the event of an accident Sleepypod will replace your harness free of charge.
- D-rings on back to hook a leash onto
- Easy to clean ballistic nylon.
- No front clip for ease walking (makes sense, was built for the car).
Note: if you have a broad chested dog, like a rottie or pittie you should be using the Sleepypod Click it terrain. To learn more on car safety read out post here.
We hope this helps make your walks easier, less stressful and most importantly safer for you and your dog.