I’m going to go straight there and say that collars should only be for decorative purposes. Or at the very most somewhere to hang the legally required dog tag. Leads should not be attached to collars for walks. For walking, you, and more importantly, your dog, wants a harness.
Now, the ‘why’ here is important. A lot of people say a harness will stop a dog from pulling. That’s not true, a harness does not prevent this, training prevents this along with no reinforcement for pulling (not as simple as you may think). The harness can help make training easier. However, this is not the reason for having a harness over a collar. The big reason is your dog’s health and well-being.
When a dog does pull on a collar, the pressure is applied to the dog’s throat. This is a very vulnerable part of the body. Collars can cause, or make worse many conditions, including those that we just wouldn’t immediately think about… These include eye problems caused by intraocular eye pressure, collapsed Trachea, increased breathing issues for brachycephalic breeds (e.g. Pugs, French Bulldogs, etc.) and Thyroid disorders. They can also lead to problems during recovery after surgery.
Harnesses, however, put no pressure in this sensitive area – a good harness should distribute the weight across the dog’s shoulders while allowing a free range of movement. Avoid harnesses that have a strap horizontally across the chest as it can restrict front leg movement.
What’s the Best Harness?
My pick will always be the Perfect Fit harness. It comes in either two or three sections, each piece fitted separately, so you get, well, a perfect fit. Also, because it does up around the neck, rather than going on over the dog’s head, it fits the neck, not their head. This makes it a lot harder for your dog to slip out of the harness.
So unless you can guarantee that your dog will never ever pull – and as dogs are dogs, not robots – you need to be walking your dog using a harness, not a collar.
See Part 02 of this series on Fixed-Length Leads vs Retractables.