7 Collars and Harnesses and What the Heck is the Difference?!

 7 Fantastic Collars and the Dog Personality They Fit Best

Ever feel overwhelmed looking at your local pet store’s wall of collars? In every color, type, length and style possible, it feels like there are hundreds of collar options! All the different types of harnesses are best for different types of dogs, but it can be confusing picking one when in the store. Here are the seven different types of collars (or harnesses) and which dog would best benefit from them:

1) The Classic Flat Collar: For the Perfectly Behaved Dog

This collar is the first type everyone thinks about when faced with a collar decision. Simple, thin and with a quick buckle to make it secure, this collar is excellent for holding your identification tags. This is for the dog who is perfectly behaved and rarely pulls on the leash, as dogs can easily choke themselves when pulling and can slip out of a perfectly sized flat collar. This collar also makes controlling your dog when on the leash more difficult due to the comfortable fit, even when pulling. Unless you have that mystical unicorn of a dog who is perfectly behaved when out and about, it is better to choose a different collar for walks to save your back and your dog’s neck. This is an excellent secondary collar for around the house to make sure your dog always has identification tags attached.

 2) Pinch Collar: Not Really Recommended for Any Dog*

You will see this all-metal pinch collar hanging in the corner, often next to the muzzles. This controversial collar is typically not recommended by professional trainers, but it is on offer in nearly all stores so it is important to mention it. This collar both tightens when the leash is pulled and has metal prongs that stick into the neck when the collar tightens, giving an immediate choking sensation for the dog even when gently pulling. For this reason, this collar should be professionally fitted and only used in specific circumstances. Typically, only under direct supervision and for correction purposes. Misuse of this collar is easy and can cause severe damage to your dog, so this collar should not be a choice for your dog. If you are recommended to use this type of collar, please research how to correctly fit it for your dog and its use thoroughly before purchasing.

3) Slip Collar: For the Headstrong Dog

Typically, only seen in vet offices and shelters, the slip collar is excellent for a quick solution that can control a strong dog easily. Often just a simple rope with a loop at the end, this collar is excellent for quick corrections and can be used to control even the largest dog. With extended use this leash can cause damage to the sensitive neck as it allows their full weight to rest on the throat, so limited use is recommended. This collar is excellent if you routinely are in charge of dogs of unknown temperament who might be aggressive pullers. For your own at-home puller, though, there are more effective alternatives on the market.

4) The Front Clip Harness: For the Bully Breed Who Pulls

While the Bully breeds are often some of the strongest pullers, the last thing you want to do is let them put all that pressure solely on their necks. That’s where this harness comes in. Harnesses distribute the weight evenly across the shoulders and chest of your dog, because if they are going to pull you might as well skip the half-strangled dog with it. Please note, this style is still stressful on their backs, so be aware of this in aggressive pullers. The front attachment on their chest pulls your dog to one side if they tug, so this option offers excellent quick correction for pooch’s who are still learning to ignore their impulses on the leash.

5) The Back-Clip Harness: For the Bully Breed Who Is Well-Behaved

This harness has all the benefits of the Front Clip Harness, but has the attachment for the leash between the shoulder blades instead of the chest. Still having the benefits of evenly distributing the pressure from a dog putting their body weight into pulling, this type of harness is excellent for Bully breeds. This harness makes it extremely comfortable for both walking and pulling on the leash, so energetic walkers who love to pull should get a different collar. This harness does cause stress to the spine when used constantly with a chronic puller, though, so keep this in mind before buying.

6) Martingale Collar: For the Stoic, Dignified Dog Who Still Pulls

This collar is essentially a simple flat collar that has an added system which allows it to tighten to a certain extent (but not too tight) when pressure is applied. Recommended for dogs with necks wider than their heads (think Greyhounds and Whippets), it helps control pulling behaviors without excessive pressure. This collar is currently a favorite with trainers, who like its moderation in correction to pulling and its gentle fabric fit. This collar can cause damage to the neck if used too aggressively, so use moderation if you have an energetic walker who is still learning the ropes. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, this collar might be a good starting point even if you have an average shaped dog who is fully grown.

7) The Head Halter: For the Patient Pooch Who Still Likes to Pull

Also called a Gentle Leader or Snootloop, this harness looks similar to a traditional horse harness. With a loop around the snout which attaches at the back of the neck, it is easy to redirect your dog’s attention when out for a walk. This harness is excellent for gentle reminders in training and prevents pulling, but it can be easily misused by the strong-handed walker. The attachment to the snout can make it easy to pull the head abruptly around, so extra care is necessary for this effective harness. Extra rewards are also necessary to train your dog to accept this harness as it can be overly-restrictive to the untrained pup. Something to keep in mind if you do opt for this style: it can cause fur loss on the delicate face areas if used consistently, so be sure to only use it when necessary.

Did you see your pet style peeking out in one of the options? Have you tried one of these options and it didn’t work for you? Let us know your harness story in the comments, we love hearing from you!

By Lauren Pescarus

*There are many opinions on this collar and it can be very helpful in training certain animals