The number of products available for our pets can be downright overwhelming. You walk into any pet aisle or pet store and the colorful shelves are always full to the brim with every food, toy, and gadget imaginable. When we search for a specific item for our canine companions, it can be difficult to figure out which products actually work, and which ones aren’t nearly as effective as their packaging implies. When perusing these shelves, you may have asked yourself the question: dog collar or harness? You aren’t alone; the debate over whether dog collars or harnesses are better for our pups is ongoing. Let’s discuss which is better, dog collar or harness?

brown short coated dog wearing black and white backpack

Dog Collar or Harness: Types of Harnesses

Harnesses come in different clip styles, structures, and are made for a variety of purposes. Let’s discuss the different types of harnesses available. 

Clip Style

One differentiation between harnesses is the style and placement of the clip attachments. These attachments enable you to attach your leash or longline to your dog’s harness.

Front Clip Dog Harness

A front-clip harness has a leash attachment on the front. These types of harnesses are often used because the front clip provides more control to the handler, discouraging your puppy from pulling on the leash. When a dog in a front clip harness pulls, the front orientation of the leash pulls the dog sideways, instead of straight back. It also allows the owner to more easily turn their dog around. If a dog is particularly strong or large, you may need an additional tool for control, such as a head collar.

brown short coated dog on brown and green grass field

Back Clip Dog Harness

With a back-clip dog harness, the leash attachment is on the back. These harnesses are easier to put on your dog than a front clip harness. Dog collar or harness for small dogs? The back clip harness is best for small breeds with fragile necks that could be harmed by a regular collar. Back-clip harnesses are not a good choice for untrained dogs, dogs that pull, or large dogs. This type of harness does not provide adequate control over large or aggressive dogs. 

Multi Clip Dog Harness

Some harnesses come with both front and back attachment clips. These are called dual-clip harnesses. Other harnesses come with additional attachment points and these are called multi-clip harnesses. Having a harness with alternative attachments provides ease of use in multiple situations. You can use the back clip on a normal walk and the front clip in situations where you need more control. Many multi-clip harnesses also have a handle on the back for even more control over your dog if the situation dictates it.  

brown and white short coated dog wearing black and white scarf


Another differentiation between types of harnesses is their structure and how you put them on your dog.

Over-The-Head Dog Harness

The over-the-head harness is the standard dog harness. You put it on your dog by putting part of it over your dog’s head, then clipping the straps under your dog’s belly. The closed neck provides good weight distribution and body control. Your dog must be comfortable with the process of putting the harness on, as it does take a little longer than other harness types.

Step-In Dog Harness

A step-in dog harness involves your dog stepping both feet into the harness, then pulling the harness up and clipping it over the dog’s shoulders. This harness is easier to put on than an over-the-head harness and the style can be adjusted to fit any size dog.

Other Kinds of Harnesses

Some harnesses serve other purposes than to keep your dog from pulling. In fact, some even serve the exact opposite purpose! Here are a few other types of harnesses for dogs.

Harnesses To Pull Weight

Throughout centuries of human history, dogs have assisted us in our daily tasks. One of those tasks is to pull weight. Some dogs can be trained to pull carts, bicycles, or sleds, and they need certain equipment to do so safely. 

Car Safety Harnesses

A dog roaming free in your car can turn into a dangerous situation for both you and your canine companion. Keeping both of you safe is of paramount importance, so consider using a harness specifically designed to keep your dog secure in your car.

Harnesses To Increase Visibility

Some harnesses are intended to increase your dog’s visibility, especially at night. They might have lights attached or reflective material that makes them readily visible during night walks or off-leash in the wilderness

black poodle biting orange ball

What Size Dog Harness Do I Need?

Harnesses are often sold in sizes like small, medium, and large. Each brand has a sizing chart with measurements for each size. To determine your dog’s size, most harness brands advise you to measure your dog’s barrel, the widest part of their chest directly behind their front legs. Refer to each brand’s size chart, then use the appropriate measurement to determine what size harness your dog needs. 

Dog Collar Or Harness

Collars are simple, while harnesses are more secure. When choosing the right tools to train your dog, like a dog collar or harness, it can be difficult to see past the overwhelming amount of options. Whether you choose to use a harness or not, it’s still a good idea for your dog to have a collar. A collar can hold your dog’s identifying information and provide control if you don’t have a leash or harness handy. 

Collars come in a wide variety of styles and designs to provide solutions for walking your dog. That being said, a collar isn’t for every dog. Some dogs will choke themselves when walking on any collar. Dogs who pull can restrict their oxygen intake and potentially injure their necks.

Harnesses are a great alternative for dogs who pull a lot or for small dogs with fragile necks. Harnesses provide additional control a collar alone cannot provide and are becoming increasingly popular among dog owners.

brown short coated dog on green grass lawn

Picking the Right Dog Collar Or Harness For You

Whether you’re training for the next big sled dog race or just need a little help training your puppy to walk nicely next to you, there is a harness out there to suit your needs. Keeping your dog safe and secure throughout all your activities is vital, and buying the right dog collar or harness is a step in the right direction. Consider what elements of each type are important to you, choose a dog collar or harness, and make sure to check the accompanying size chart. Once you have your dog’s measurements, you will be able to choose the appropriate size for a snug and secure fit. 

The more control you have over your dog, the safer you both will be, and the more confidence you will have to step out into a new adventure with your canine companion.

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