What Are the Benefits of Using a Dog Harness?

When it comes to taking your dog out on walks, you are always going to want to make sure that you have enough control over the dog. If your dog gets overly excited and sees a squirrel, you will want to be able to hold the dog back and keep it from darting across the road. Knowing that there are plenty of different things that you can purchase for your dog when it goes out walking, you may begin to wonder which one is the best for you.

Out of all the accessories that you can purchase for your dog, the two biggest contenders are the dog harness and the dog collar. Considering how popular they both are, you may want to know what the benefits of using one over the other are and which one is ultimately going to be better for your dog.

In order to understand what some of the benefits of using a dog harness over a dog collar are, you are going to want to understand what makes them different, especially when it comes to keeping your dog under control.

Collar vs. Harness: What Makes Them Different?

Of course, it is easy to see that dog collars and dog harnesses are quite different in their shape, although their overall purpose remains the same. Both the harness and the collar are there so that you can attach a leash to your dog to have some degree of control over where your dog goes when you are taking it outside. But what does the difference in shape provide?

One of the many problems that comes with a collar, especially for larger dogs, is that there is a very small amount of area where the collar presses against the dog. When such a small area of the collar touches the dog’s fur and body, there is going to be a lot more pressure exerted onto it. For some dogs, this can make it feel as if the collar is choking or strangling the dog and cause it to try and fight its way out, which will only cause more problems keeping the dog under control.

On the other hand, when you use a harness, much of the harness touches the dog’s chest. While you will still be using the same amount of strength to hold your dog back, that pull will be distributed evenly across the dog’s chest, giving more of a gentle tug rather than a strangling sensation. Most dogs will respond well to this lighter pressure when you want to guide them in another direction and it will also be much more comfortable for your dog.

This is one of the biggest differences between using a collar and using a harness. Using a harness not only allows you to have more control over the dog’s trunk and torso, but it will also be a lot less forceful on your dog, which will make it more willing to comply with the instructions that you are giving it since it won’t feel as threatened.

What Happens to the Harness When the Dog Pulls?

Dogs, especially when they are still young, spry, and stubborn, are going to pull on their leashes at one point or another. Some dogs may pull on the leash because they want to reach their destination faster while others may pull on their leashes when they feel as if you are walking too slowly. Regardless of why your dog wants to pull on the leash, it eventually will happen. Choosing to make your dog wear a harness rather than a collar is going to be far more helpful in the long term for dogs who pull.

One difference between collars and harnesses is that when your dog pulls on the collar, your dog will still technically be moving forward just a little bit. To a stubborn dog, this is proof that pulling on the leash gets the dog what it wants, making it more prone to doing it again. On the other hand, when you use a harness with your dog and your dog tries to pull on it, the dog will not be able to move forward because the leash will generally be located between the shoulder blades or the chest of the dog. This will discourage pulling on the leash as it will get the dog no “reward” of seemingly moving forward and it will just be tiring.

When your dog does pull on its leash, it can actually be pretty tiring on your body too when you have to keep up with it. When you choose to use a harness instead of a leash, the pressure that comes with pulling on the leash will be redirected to your back rather than your wrist and arms, making it easier on you as well.

Also, depending on the size of your dog, it may actually be safer for the dog to have a harness. Harnesses offer less intense pressure around the neck and large, stubborn dogs can hurt themselves easily by choosing to pull on a collar.

If your dog is still learning not to pull on its leash but you have no choice but to walk the dog through crowds, busy streets, or other areas where the urge to pull on its leash will grow, then using a harness will offer you more control. Since you won’t be pulling as much on the dog’s neck but rather on its torso, you will be able to stop your dog from pulling hard much more easily than you would if you were using a collar.

And finally, everyone knows about those dogs who seem to be masterful escape artists, seemingly getting out of any collar even if the collar should be tight enough to not allow the dog to get loose. Trying to take your dog on a walk when it is already a masterful escape artist can be hard but it can be made much easier with a harness. Because of the nature of the harness being wrapped around your dog’s front legs and torso, even the dogs who seem to be the Houdini of the canine world won’t be able to easily slip out of them. If you simply want to make sure that your dog is strapped in securely when you take it on a walk, being sure that it wears a harness is going to be the best way to go.

Harnesses Are Easier on Younger and Older Dogs Alike

While harnesses are going to offer more benefits for just about all different kinds of dogs, they tend to offer even more to dogs that are both particularly young or particularly old as well as dogs with conditions that put their bodies or mental state in the same condition as a very young or very old dog.

For instance, when you are first training your puppy to behave on walks, using a harness is almost always the recommended option. Harnesses do not have the option to get tangled up in bushes and branches in the way that the looser-fitting collar does. After all, the harness is attached securely to the dog’s body so there is no room for the dog to get tangled up. For making sure that you are training your puppy in a safe environment, a dog harness is going to make things much easier.

Additionally, harnesses disperse the amount of pressure from the leash by spreading that pressure over the neck, back, and torso rather than just fixating on the neck. For dogs that are young and still growing, dogs who have fragile bodies, and elderly dogs, a harness can be much easier to wear and tolerate both for you and the dog, making any walks you take become far more pleasant and stress-free.

If your dog is on the weaker side of things and occasionally needs a little bit of help up after it has sat down during a walk, a harness can provide the gentle assistance that it might need. Because the leash connection is often on the back of the harness, a gentle upward tug on the leash can give your dog the assistance that it needs to stand up additional strain or discomfort. It can be a helpful solution for animals who may be weaker or more prone to exhaustion than other dogs and it can also be a good way to pick your dog back up when you are ready to continue the walk home.

In the end, while collars tend to be more commonplace than harnesses, a good harness can actually provide a lot of support for both you and your dog. A harness will be a lot less painful and stressful for your dog, who may not understand that pulling on the leash is what causes the collar to choke the dog. A harness can also allow you to have more control over where your dog is going and what it is doing so that you can easily guide a dog through a crowd of people. A good harness will also alleviate some of the stress on the dog’s body during a walk, which can be helpful for dogs who are both very young and very old. These are just a few of the benefits of using a harness over a collar when you choose to take your dog for a walk.