Have you ever wondered about the difference between the harness and the collar, which is better for your dog and why choose one over the other?
First and foremost, it’s important to understand the design of the dog harness. This device is designed to wrap around your dog’s torso, and provides a means of distributing weight across his body.
Harnesses are often used by working dogs and service dogs. They were designed for a dog to use while guiding a person, pulling a sled or cart, or for sports such as skijoring or pulka, where the dog is pulling the human.
Of course, for competitive sports and professional services, there are much better designs than the harnesses that are available on store shelves.
However, the concept behind the design of the harness is pulling — which is one of those things pet owners should keep in mind. A few days ago, I noticed a lady being dragged down the street by a husky in a harness, and it made me wonder how many people are unaware that this is part of what the harness is designed for.
While I don’t think harnesses are appropriate for most dogs, there are a couple cases where they are a better option.
A harness may be appropriate for a dog that has difficulty breathing, and can avoid putting pressure on their trachea. Some brachycephalic dog breeds have issues breathing, and there are cases where dogs struggle due to age, health or obesity.
Harnesses are also a good choice for a dog that is extremely skittish or nervous, as they are more difficult to back out of than a collar around the neck.
Some pet owners want to use a harness because they feel it will be more comfortable for their canine.
However, many who use harnesses complain that their dog pulls constantly. Because the dog harness was designed for pulling, the standard harness design includes a clip on the back where the leash is affixed. This allows the dog to pull with his chest, and get maximum leverage on whatever is behind him.
A new concept was designed a few years ago commonly called the "no-pull harness" design. The design was made for pet owners who wanted the advantage that a harness offers without giving their pooch that urge to persistently pull.
One simple design change modifies how the harness works. The new harness design moves the clip from the dog’s back to his chest, thereby taking away the pulling advantage.
While a simple old fashioned buckle collar and a little obedience training is the key for most dogs, there are a few reasons a pet owner might prefer the harness.
However, if you plan to use a harness, try to avoid the ones that clip in the back — unless, of course, you are looking for a design that will get your dog to pull!
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 27, 2012