May 21, 2014

Choosing the Best Collar or Harness for Your Pet

Author: Gail Brasie


With so many collars and harnesses to choose from, what are they actually designed to do? Which is best?

Floofins & Co. dog walkers and pet sitters see MANY types of collars, harnesses and walking devices while in the field, each with a different design and purpose. Whether you choose a collar like a prong or a Martingale, or a type of harness for dog walks is largely dependent on your dog’s leash manners and your walking style. There are several options out there, so here’s a quick break-down of the most common types.

Types and Styles of Collars and Harnesses include:

  • Flat Collars
  • Prong Collars
  • Martingale Collars
  • Slip Collars/Choke Chains
  • Standard Harness
  • Easy Walk Harness
  • Sporn Harness

Collars include traditional flat collars, like the one your dogs wears at home with her ID tags on it. Dogs who do not pull and are not reactive around other dogs or people can be walked on flat collars.

Martingale Collars are similar to flat collars but they have a chain or fabric loop that tightens when pulled and keeps the collar from slipping off the dog’s head. They’re often worn by breeds like greyhounds, whose heads are smaller than their necks, but martingale collars come in many sizes and can be worn by all types of dogs, especially ones who have a tendency to slip out of regular flat collars.

Some dogs benefit from the use of prong collars, which allow for quick correction of negative behaviors. Also referred to as training collars, prong collars are recommended for large dogs, and when you’re training your dog in leash manners. When used correctly, they will not cause injury.

Choke chains or slip collars are essentially slipknots made from chain or nylon rope. When put on correctly, the chain releases after you make the correction. Choke chains are tricky because if put on backwards they can in fact cause injury to your dog because the loop doesn’t loosen, but just keeps getting tighter and tighter around your dog’s neck. If you’re using a choke chain, make certain it is on correctly every time you take your dog for a walk.

Harnesses are also a good choice if you have a dog who pulls while on walks, or a very squirmy dog who may slip a flat collar and run free. Harnesses are also popular choices for owners of smaller dog breeds. Standard harnesses come in a variety of styles and shapes–these can also be quite decorative too, if you’re shopping online or at a dog boutique.

Easy Walk Harnesses are designed specifically to reduce pulling–the leash attaches to a Martingale loop at the front, across the chest, rather than on the back. The fitting of these harnesses is important for their functionality.

Sporn Harnesses are also specialty harnesses aimed at reducing pulling, in this case, the harness loops under the dogs forelegs and pinches slightly when pulled, causing mild discomfort to the dog.

Believe it or not, this isn’t even a complete list of all the walking dog collars and harnesses available, but these are the most common, and it’s a good place to start. Make sure you research whichever option you pick fully, to make sure that the collar or harness fits properly on your dog.

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