Why Use A Dog Harness Instead Of A Collar? [11 Useful Facts and Tutorials]


When it comes down to choosing a tool that’s safe, effective, or just fashionable, dog owners got plenty of choice. Over the course of the past few years, we have seen dog harnesses rising in popularity. This might imply that dog collars are simply outdated. Several studies show that there are health-related reasons why harnesses are more suitable for your dog. We delved among books and studies to get you the definite answer why to use a dog harness instead of a collar.

Why Use A Dog Harness Instead Of A Collar

Answered: Why Use A Dog Harness Instead Of A Collar?

The advantages of wearing a harness greatly outweigh any possible disadvantage. Harnesses protect your dog’s joints and sensitive areas around it’s neck. Harnesses can redirect pulling pressure equally from the dog’s neck to its mid body or its chest. Another good point for dog harnesses is their versatility.

You can get harnesses in many shapes and styles. Harness can take over all the functional tasks, while on collars you simply put ID tags.

Harnesses often come with multiple buckles allowing for easy application and removal, whereas on collars you only have one buckle or a fastener. Harnesses are adjustable for a snug fit, which can have a calming effect on your dog.

Putting a leash on a harness is very easy. There are four overall harness designs:

  • Front-clip harness. Either, you use a front-clip harness, where you clip the leash in the front side, around your dog’s chest. Those harnesses reach around your dog’s chest and over its shoulders. They highly discourage your dog from pulling. Most front-clip harnesses are no-pull harnesses and balance harnesses that redirect your dog’s attention towards you as they are pulling.
  • Back-clip harnesses. With back-clip harnesses, you attach the leash to a D ring located on the back of your dog. They reach around your dog’s chest and over its shoulders. While the pulling force is distributed more equally when your dog is heading forward, a back-clip effectively can reinforce pulling behavior.
  • Dual-clip harness. A dual-clip harness has both D rings and is a mixture of a front-clip and back-clip harness. You attach your leash to both clips. An implication is that you need to own a leash with one clip on each of its ends. The pulling force translated by a dual-clip harness is stronger on the back-clip side of the harness.
  • Head halter. A head halter is attached to your dog’s head and goes over its neck and snout. Halters have their front clip underneath the snout, making your dog very sensible to movement. While they still allow for them to open their mouth, head halters cause strong friction around your dog’s head and neck.

Is There A Dog Harness That Is Easy To Put On?

We differentiate between two types of harnesses:

  • Vest harness. Simply to put on, pop your dog’s head through the hole and clip it. Vest harnesses create a pleasant feeling because of their tight fit and padding and might calm your dog.
  • Strap harness. Lightweight and versatile harnesses that are good in any season. Prevents your dog from heat accumulation.

For first-time harness users it might be easier to put on a vest harness. But overall, putting on a dog harness comes down to practice. It usually only takes two to three simple steps to put on a harness.

Harness Recommendations For Different Dog Sizes

  • Large Dogs and Giant Dogs. Due to their strong pulling force, you might want to use a front-clip harness or a no-pull harness that gently discourages pulling before it knocks you off your feet. Using a no-pull harness quickly redirects your big dog’s attention to you and teaches them that heading forward does not work out.
  • Medium Dogs. Depending on the breed and the dog’s strength, you might opt for a back-clip or a dual-clip harness. Both are more suitable to your dog’s health. However, if your dog belongs to a heavy-puller breed, you might want to use a front-clip harness.
  • Small Dogs and Toy-sized Dogs. It is best to go for a back-clip harness. Small dogs often have physiological problems around their neck and nose due to excessive breeding. Only if your dog will not stop pulling, you should consider switching to a front-clip or dual-clip harness and some more training sessions.

How To Put A Leash Harness On A Dog?

A leash harness or harness lead is a type of harness that resembles a leash that has been wrapped around a dog. Indeed, it almost functions in that way. Here is how you put a leash harness on:

  • Step 1. Fiddle the non-extendable end of the harness lead over your dog’s head. Tighten it accordingly, but leave enough room for two fingers.
  • Step 2. Then, get the other end of the harness lead and wrap it around your dog’s chest, effectively creating a circle.
  • Step 3. After that, redirect your attention to the top of your dog’s back. Thread the end of the leash harness through the visible loop around your dog’s neck.
  • Step 4. You now have the other end of the leash in your hand.
  • Step 5. Put the adjustable silicone resistor part all the way down to the loop.
  • Step 6. The leash harness is now correctly installed.

How To Harness A Dog With A Leash?

If you are camping our outside and you only have a leash at hand, you can use that leash to transform it into a DIY dog harness, if a dog harness is not available. Note that this method might defeat the pull-force redirection purpose of a dog harness because your dog’s pull will not necessarily be translated to its mid body.

Before you start turning your leash into a harness, it is crucial that your dog wears a collar that has a D ring and an attached leash extender with another D ring for comfort, or a carabiner that extends the collar. You should do this is in order to gain some space because you do not want your dog to choke while it is pulling.

  • Step 1. Attach one end of your leash to the ring of the extender, not the to the D ring of the collar.
  • Step 2. Then, put the leash around your dog’s chest, just behind your dog’s front legs.
  • Step 3. Put the other end of the leash through the D ring of the extender, effectively creating a circle around your dog’s chest.
  • Step 4. You now have an improvised harness with a leash attached to it.

Is It Easier To Control A Dog With A Harness Or Collar?

While it depends on the breed, it generally is a safer and easier option to control your dog with a harness. Using a harness, you can make sure to control your dog’s pulling behavior to avoid causing harm to him. For strong pullers, a no pull harness that tightens around the waist is helpful, in case a back-clip harness encourages pulling.

A harness will allow your dog more freedom in terms of movement ability. And even if it is one of those days where your dog will just not listen to your commands, with a harness you can relieve pressure and avoid posture problems arising from pulling your dog.

Can A Dog Wear A Collar And A Harness?

As long as you attach your leash to the back ring of your dog’s harness, it is fair to say that a can dog wear a collar and a harness simultaneously.

With a harness on there might be less reasons to wear a collar at the same time, but a sensible advice is to consider to connect a harness to a collar using a carabiner or a clip. In case your dog was to slip out of his harness, the harness will still sit safely around your dog’s body and cannot move freely but it is limited in motion.

Other than that, your dog does not need a collar if he has a harness, unless you would put it on them for decorative purposes or to keep a license tag/ID tags there. And with so many cool collars out there, who wouldn’t?

How Can I Keep My Dog In A Harness Or Collar?

In case your dog wears a harness, you can secure it by attaching it to your dog’s collar with a carabiner our clip. It will greatly limit the collar’s motion so that it gets hard to slip off.

In case you would nonetheless notice the collar slipping off, you would have assurance that you are still able to control your dog, because it is wearing its collar.

Another solution is to use straps near to your dog’s flank so that it cannot back out of it, or a harness that clips mid body, for example under its belly.

If your dog only wears a collar, you still have options by getting a martingale collar for your dog. The way these work is by tightening around your dog’s neck if it were to come off. This type of collar is completely fine for your dog and in fact often used by Greyhound owners due to their physiology.

When Can Puppies Wear A Harness?

You should start letting your puppy wear its harness at the age of 8 weeks.

Puppies being taken well care of in the first weeks show long-term benefits in terms of calmness and socialization, which makes it a plausible time to start accustoming your pup to a harness.

There are several things to consider while habituating your pup to a harness, so it is best to not scare your pup while training him.

A back-clip harness is a great solution for your puppy. Because its body is still growing, putting a harness on mitigates injuries stemming from its joints, trachea, and thyroid. That is because your pulling forces are very strong compared to your pup’s strength. In general, an injury from a dog harness is rare, the most prominent observation is a dog harness rubbing under your pup’s legs.

Rather than your puppy pulling, it is you that could cause damage to its health. You can actually buy scalable harnesses or body belts that you can adjust to your puppy’s growing body size.

How To Measure Dog Girth For Harnesses?

There are just three important measures you need to find out in order to determine the harness size for your dog. The measures you need are chest width, girth, and your dog’s weight. Get a measuring tape and note the values. Have your dog standing in front of you, facing you.

  • Chest Width. Get your measuring tape and wrap it horizontally from your dog’s breast bone (middle of its chest) to either the left or right side, just about 1-1.5 inches (2.5-3.5 cm) behind it’s front leg.
  • Girth. Get your measuring tape and wrap it vertically from your dog’s withers (part of the back, behind the neck) to it’s front legs on either side.
  • Weight. Get a scale, let your dog sit on it for a while – done.

With those measures at hand, take a look at a fitting guide from your favorite harness brand. Usually, there are sizes ranging from toy-sized dogs to giant dogs. When you are between to sizes, go for the bigger one. Often, you can slightly adjust a harness.

Is There A Dog Harness With A Clip Underneath?

Head halters have a clip under the dog’s mouth. However, a clip on harness that is worn around the back that would be located at the bottom of your dogs chest would not make much sense in redirecting the force or attention of your dog.

Final Thoughts

Overall, using a harness on your dog has positive effects on posture, and overall health around its neck, and significantly increases safety. If you own a short-nosed breed like a bug or a French bulldog, your dog might have special health-related concerns, including respiratory concerns, where using a collar can be detrimental to your dog’s health. It is best to opt for a solution that decreases neck pressure. Downsides from using a harness mostly apply from incorrect use. By combining a harness with a collar, you can surprisingly increase both the control and safety of your dog.


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