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Sometimes a harness or collar can be a bit of a fashion statement for your pet. But setting fashion aside, which style of collar or harness is most functional? When you’re looking to use the collar or harness to actually walk your pet, here are some things to consider.
When to Use a Collar
Bigger dogs and dogs that are strong or pull on a leash will do better with either a collar or gentle leader versus a harness. Putting a harness on a big strong dog will allow them to more efficiently drag you all over the place! (Think about big draft horses that are put in a harness to pull heavy objects.)
When to Use a Gentle Leader
Gentle leaders are a type of collar that actually goes over the dogs head and muzzle which provide the most control when walking; this type of collar works best for head strong dogs that like to pull, or people that are serious about obedience.
When to use a Pinch or Prong Collar
Pinch collars and prong collars can be effective when used correctly for training. When used incorrectly they can cause injury to the skin around the neck. In addition, these types of collars should never be left on all the time and should only be used for training sessions and walking.
When to Use a Harness
Harnesses tend to work best for smaller dogs and the occasional cat that actually enjoys being on a leash! Many small dogs can suffer from a softer trachea (called collapsing trachea), and a harness can help alleviate pressure on the airways.
Brachycephalic dogs–or dogs with respiratory compromise due to a shortened face–such as Shih tzus, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Pugs and Pekinese may do better when walked on a harness so that they can adequately cool themselves by panting when on walks.
Each pet will respond to harnesses or collars in a different way. So it may take some trial and error to find out what works best for you and your pet.
By veterinarian Dr. Fiona Caldwell; Dr. Caldwell is a second generation veterinarian and writes for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats founded in 2005.