Dog Harness Vs. Collar – Safety Pros and Cons of Each

One of the most common decisions dog owners face is choosing between a harness and a collar for their pets. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, particularly in terms of safety. This article delves into the safety pros and cons of each to help you make the best choice for your furry friend.

Understanding Dog Collars

A dog collar is a piece of material put around the neck of a dog. It’s a traditional method of attaching a leash and is commonly used for identification and fashion purposes as well.

Safety Pros of Dog Collars

Collars are straightforward to use and familiar to most dog owners. They are suitable for dogs that do not pull on the leash and can be quite safe and comfortable. Collars also allow easy access for attaching ID tags and are less likely to be slipped off by the dog.

Safety Cons of Dog Collars

The major downside of collars is the potential risk they pose to the dog’s neck. Pulling on a collar can lead to neck strain or even injury, particularly in smaller breeds or dogs with respiratory issues. In extreme cases, a collar can cause choking, especially if the dog tends to pull vigorously.

Understanding Dog Harnesses

A dog harness is designed to distribute pressure more evenly around the dog’s chest and back. Harnesses come in various styles, including front-clip, back-clip, and tightening harnesses, each serving different purposes.

Safety Pros of Dog Harnesses

Harnesses are generally considered safer for dogs that pull. They reduce strain on the neck and provide better control over the dog, which is especially helpful for larger breeds or dogs with a tendency to lunge. Harnesses are also beneficial for dogs with respiratory issues, as they do not put pressure on the throat.

Safety Cons of Dog Harnesses

One potential issue with dog harnesses is incorrect fitting, which can lead to discomfort or even injury. Some dogs might also find harnesses more restrictive, leading to reluctance or behavioral issues. Additionally, some harnesses can enable stronger dogs to pull more effectively.

Comparing Harnesses and Collars in Different Scenarios

In busy urban environments, a harness can offer better control over your dog, reducing the risk of accidents. For relaxed walks in safe, open spaces, a collar might be sufficient. During training sessions, the choice depends on the dog’s behavior; pullers benefit from harnesses, while calm dogs may do well with collars.

How to Choose Between a Harness and Collar

The decision should be based on your dog’s size, breed, and behavior. Consider the specific needs of your dog: does it pull, have any respiratory issues, or a slender neck? Also, think about the type of activities you do with your dog – long hikes, city walks, or relaxed strolls in the park.


Both harnesses and collars have their place in a dog owner’s toolkit. The right choice depends on your dog’s individual needs and the situation at hand. Always prioritize the safety and comfort of your pet, and don’t hesitate to consult with a veterinarian or a professional trainer if you’re unsure about the best option for your dog.