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Collar or Harness, What's up for Your Pup?

As dog owners, I think it's fair to say that our doggy friends' safety is our #1 priority. But, with so many differences in size, body build, temperament and even lifestyle, it can be a little overwhelming to choose. I've put together a brief outline to help you choose the most beneficial option for you and your pup!


The two most common types of collars are the Flat Collar and the Martingale collar.

Collars can be easier and more convenient to fit, they are less restrictive which can be more comfortable and they make it easy to display your dog's ID tag. However, due to the increased risk of damage to the neck, throat, back and/or eyes from pulling, collars are best suited for dogs that are already leash trained.


While they come in a variety of different styles, the two main type of harnesses are the front clip, and the back clip harness.

Harnesses greatly reduce the risk of injury due to the distribution of pressure created when a dog pulls. The pressure gets evenly distributed across the chest and prevents direct pressure to the neck/throat. When fitted properly, the harness allows for more control by the handler, which can help reduce leash tangling and the chance of the dog slipping out and getting loose. A harness can also provide comfort to a nervous or anxious dog, similar to the comfort of a Thundershirt. By applying slight pressure, the nervous system is calmed which helps reduces stress.

Although, in my opinion, harnesses provide the most benefits, they can sometimes be hard to fit properly. Harness are great for dogs of all types but especially dogs that tend to pull, puppies learning how to leash walk, and our more fragile friends (small dogs that are prone to injury, dogs with any medical history of neck/throat/back issues and brachycephalic dogs).

Head Halter

Sometimes referred to as the "power steering" of dog leads, there are two main types of Head Halters; the Gentle Leader and the

Halti Head Collar.

Similar to the harness, the head halter provides more control than a collar but it does come with a much larger learning curve. Some dogs may take time to get used to wearing the halter and if not used properly, harsh pulling can result in injury. The head halter can be very beneficial but I would recommend consulting with your local dog trainer on how to use this option safely. Regardless of what option you and your pup decide on, making sure your dogs gear fits properly will encourage the most effective and safe results.

A snug fit should allow no more than 2 fingers of space between your dog and any area of their gear. Too much space between the dog and gear allows your dog room to slip out or get tangled or caught, resulting in injury. Not enough space between the dog and gear can cause hair pulling, hair loss, and/or chaffing which can be very painful.

As always, never hesitate to ask for help. Consult with a trusted trainer to help decide what option is best for your friend's needs. Also, pet friendly stores like Petco, PetSmart, etc. almost always have staff available to help you fit your dog into the perfect gear!

Happy walking!!

*Now of course there are other options out there, like shock collars, pronged collars, etc. but in an effort to stick to my non-aversive training beliefs, these are the ones I will be focusing on today. Please contact your local certified trainer for more information on aversive training tools*


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