Collars vs. Harnesses For Walking Your Dog
I have been a dog trainer for over 25 years.
I have a lot of experience.
I am also a vet tech.
I have a love-hate relationship with harnesses.
I am not even going to pull punches with this article.
My Opinion of Collars vs. Harnesses for Walking Your Dog
99% of the time, I hate harnesses for regular walking.
They are great for teaching your dog to pull, but they are horrible for teaching your dog not to pull.
If your dog is going to pull anyway, and you have no problem with it, use a harness.
Collars can hurt your dog’s trachea if you allow him to pull.
I just don’t allow my dogs to pull.
I teach my dogs leash manners, and I thwart pulling the moment it happens.
There is no way that my dogs’ collars would ever damage their trachea because I don’t allow them to pull!
Clients of Mine
Ironically, a month ago, I was at a client’s house for in-home training.
They were adamant about using a harness and not a collar.
They have a smaller dog, and their vet recommended a harness, which I understand.
So, I asked them if they trusted me (this was our 4th session), and suggested we try them both.
Of course, the dog pulled on the harness.
And, the dog pulled on the collar.
But I was able to quickly teach the dog to walk nicely on the collar by changing my direction a couple of times and rewarding the dog for paying attention to me.
Within 5 minutes, the dog was walking loosely on the leash by my side.
They were impressed.
But, ironically, it isn’t magic.
The same thing happens with 90% of the dogs I train this way.
Harnesses are built to help dogs pull.
Imagine putting a harness on a horse and trying to control it.
When you liken it to a horse, you realize how silly it sounds.
Sure, you can teach your dog to walk nicely on a harness, but it is going to be more difficult. And if the dog isn’t pulling anyway, I don’t understand why you would want to.
Yes, there are anti-pull harnesses and some work better than others, but I think that approach is kind of lazy.
If you teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash, using a collar is more than acceptable.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.