Picking the Perfect Collar,
Harness & Halter
Dog Collars and Harnesses allow you to control your dog, as well as provide a little fashion or expression of personality. There are many types of Dog Collars, Harnesses and Halters available; choosing the best option for your dog is going to depend on the size, temperament, breed and level of training that best suits your dog and your goals.
Traditional Dog Collars
For the vast majority of dogs, a Traditional Dog Collar and Lead is going to be all you need, providing good control for walks, and the ideal location for I.D. Tags. Many municipalities require dogs to have their licenses and/or rabies tag displayed at all times in public. Traditional Dog Collars are the ideal choice for the trained dog, or dogs that are naturally obedient. Traditional collars are usually adjustable, and can have either a buckle or snap type fastener, do not constrict and are available in many colors, styles and materials. Nylon or Leather is going to be the best choice for everyday use and durability. Traditional dog collars are often used in combination with training collars and harnesses.
How To Choose the Correct Size Dog Collar for Your Dog
Use a flexible tape measure or a string (which you measure with a rigid tape measure or ruler) to measure around your dog’s neck. Proper placement is high on the neck, just below the head. For typical breed sizing standards, see our Neck Size Chart.
- Add two inches to this length to allow for the buckle, snap and adjustment.
Choose a collar and leash that has appropriately sized hardware for your dog. Light hardware for small or toy breeds, and increasingly heavier hardware for larger breeds or strong pullers.
Fitting your Dog Collar
- Collar should be placed high and snug on the neck, but still loose enough that you can fit 2-3 fingers easily between the collar and dogs neck.
- Too loose of a collar will allow dogs to slip out, or allow the collar to slide low on the neck, and allow the dog to more easily pull and make training more difficult.
- Check collar fit regularly on puppies and older dogs, as they grow or loose muscle.
Specialty collars are designed to help dog owners train their dogs, from puppy to adult. Training collars will allow you to gain control of your dog while on leash. These collars are particularly useful on dogs that are easily distracted, strong willed or have not responded to training with traditional collars. Specialty collars have also been created to meet the demands of certain breeds who have unique requirements or health risks from other types of collars.
Also known as a Head Collar, and sometimes confused with a muzzle, a Halter Dog Collar is a specialized anti-pulling Training collar. Sized and fitted much like a Traditional Dog Collar, the Halter has an additional loop that goes around the dog’s muzzle, allowing a greater level of control. When the dog tries to pull, the loop around the muzzle will force the dogs head down or to the side, this action discourages the dog from pulling, without choking the dog. An example of this type of collar is the gentle leader by premier.
Also known as Choke, or Choker, Collars, use a simple ring and loop to constrict on a dogs neck. Usually made of chain or nylon rope, slip collars and slip leads are an effective training tool for appropriate breeds, and are typically used for training dogs not to pull on lead, or to help dogs maintain focus on their handler. Slip collars should not be used on dogs that are susceptible to a collapsed trachea, have upper respiratory disease, or have pushed in snouts that cause breathing difficulties. Slip collars and leads should not be used with dogs that have long slender necks like Greyhounds or Whippets. Slip Collars and leads should never be used for prolonged pulling or choking, they should only be used for quick corrective actions, using a tug and release method. Slip Collars and Leads should be used for training only, never crate or tie out an animal wearing a slip collar.
These Collars were developed for sight hounds and other dogs with narrow heads, which allows them to pull out of Traditional dog collars. Also called Greyhound collars, because they are the preferred collar for the breed, Martingale collars have limited ability to constrict when pulled, preventing dogs from pulling their heads out. Unlike Slip collars, when sized and adjusted properly, Martingale collars will not completely choke your dog, and are also typically made of wider material that is less damaging to sensitive necks.
Looking like a medieval torture devise, The Prong or Pinch Collar should only be considered in the most extreme cases, when other methods have failed. The Prong collar combines the ability to constrict, along with a series of blunt prongs that push into a dog’s neck when it pulls. Prong Collars can be painful and even injure dogs if used on inappropriate breeds, or with inappropriate training methods.
Dog Harnesses are ideal for small dogs, special needs dogs, breeds that are prone to upper respiratory problems, dogs that suffer from a collapsing trachea, or dogs that have physiological issues that makes them poor candidates for traditional collars. Harnesses can also be great tools if you want to run with your dog, or if you WANT your dog to pull you, on your bike or roller blades. Otherwise be aware that using some types of harnesses can encourage some dogs to pull, which can be counterproductive to their overall training. Anti-Pull Training Harnesses are also available for dogs that need correction while wearing a harness.
How to choose the correct size Dog Harness
- Using a flexible tape measure or length of string ( which you measure with a rigid tape measure or ruler) measure the girth of your dogs chest, right behind your dogs front legs.
- Add two inches to this measurement to allow for the buckle, snap and any adjustment.
- Some manufacturers will also have a weight rating for their Harnesses, so you should also know your dogs weight.
Types of Dog Harnesses
There are many types of Dog Harnesses available today, including a wide variety of specialty harnesses for working dogs and disabled dogs. Harnesses for every day use generally fall into three categories.
These traditional harnesses are probably the most common type harness available, and come in a wide variety of materials. Roman Harnesses attach around the girth of the dogs chest, and also have a collar like component that fits around the dogs neck, with material that connects the two. Roman harness usually have a multiple points of adjustment, making them able to fit a wide variety of dogs. The leash attachment is on the top of the harness, and sits above the chest strap between the shoulder blades. Dogs have the ability to pull very hard using a traditional harnesses.
These harnesses generally have a figure 8, or similar, configuration, and are easily attached to your dog. As the name suggests, these Harnesses are put on by having your dog step into the harness with their front legs, and straps go around the girth and front of your dogs chest, with the buckle or snap connecting on top. The leash attachment is also on top between the dogs shoulder blades. There is no neck component to step in harnesses, and they may be a better choice for dogs with neck issues.
These harnesses offer greater control for dogs that want to pull hard on other types of Harnesses, or have not responded to training with collars. No-Pull Harnesses also have a girth strap that attaches around the dogs chest behind the front legs, but also have a chest strap that connects across the breast of your dog. The leash attachment on No-Pull Harnesses in on the dogs breast strap, and on some models also attaches through your dogs collar. When a dog tries to pull on these types of Harnesses, the dog is forced to turn, or the dogs head is pulled down, which discourages them from pulling.
Fitting Your Dog Harness
With so many types of Dog Harnesses available, it is very important to follow the manufacturers instruction for properly fitting your dogs harness. In general, your dogs harness should fit snugly, with the ability to still fit two fingers inside the Harness at any location. Here are some things to look for, that are indications that your Dog Harness is not adjusted properly, or you may need a different size or type of Dog Harness.
- Your dog is losing fur in the area of the Harness.
- Your dog is chaffing, or getting sores from wearing the harness.
- Your dog is able to wiggle out of, or the Harness is shifting out of position.
- Your dog strongly resist wearing or walking with the Harness.