Tag Archives: dog harness

Harness or collar? Which way to walk your dog

It seems to be puppy season! New puppy “parents” have been asking which is better for walking their little ones, harness or collar?

The answer is easy if it’s a smaller dog. Harness, all the way. Little and toy dogs are prone to “collapsing trachea,” caused by pressure on the dog’s throat. Pressure caused by dogs wearing collars pulling on lead. A small dog may not be strong enough to hurt you by pulling, but he can do damage to himself. Collapsing trachea causes coughing and gagging. Over time, it can even impact the dog’s ability to breathe and swallow. 

Collars are useful

Which is not to say that small dogs shouldn’t be accustomed to wearing collars. Having I.D. on the collar is certainly the fastest way to identify owners and get dogs back to them, should something unexpected occur. If your dog happens to get away, it’s faster when a good Samaritan finds him to call the number on the tag than go through the process of getting a microchip scanned, tracked, and contacted.

When our dogs are home, they’re usually naked. When we’re home and they’re running around the house and playing (with each other or with us), we don’t want to risk a collar or harness getting caught on anything. Same thing if we’re away. Our dogs are in their crates and naked. They’re comfortable there and we know they’re not going to chew on anything (like electrical cords) that could harm them.

The exception to the “naked at home” rule is when we’re expecting visitors, whether it’s family, friends, or some professional (plumber, electrician, delivery person, etc.) we’ve called. Just in case, the dogs are wearing their collars when we have people over. Someone could leave open a door, or a gate. Or it could blow open if not closed all the way. When you think about it, it’s true that every home has some quirks that you deal with, but no one else knows about. Like our screen door that doesn’t latch if the wind is blowing from a particular direction. No delivery person would know that. 

No “everybody” harness

There’s no single harness that’s “the best” for every dog. There are so many different designs and styles that it can be confusing. But there is a best harness for every dog.

styles of dog harnesses

Figuring out which harness is right means you have to think about how you and your dog walk together. Does either one of you have physical limitations? That could mean anything from the “tripod” dog we fit a while ago, to having issues opening the hard, plastic clasps many harnesses feature.  

Other considerations: does your dog resist the harness? Or hate having things go over her head? How is he with someone touching his feet? Does she try to back out? 

Your answers will decide the kind of harness that’s right for you and your dog.

In and out of style

There are three basic types of harnesses: vest style, step-in, and standard. Each has its advantages and best uses. We’ve developed separate sub-sections in our shop to address each of the three. We also have sections for “hook and loop” style harnesses. We don’t use the trade name, for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that when we offer an extra “Velcro” strip for use with the Wrap-N-Go, you will be getting actual Velcro material.

Over the years we’ve developed harness expertise, and we’re happy to share what we know. If you’re not sure which harness is ideal for you and your dog, please contact us! We’re more than happy to make individualized recommendations when you fill out and submit our “Harness Selector Questionnaire.”

French Bulldog wearing no-pull harness

It is possible for the “best” harness for your dog to change over time. For example, a few years ago the “no-pull” harness with the leash ring in the front was introduced. For a while, it became all the rage. Then we started hearing reports about dogs having shoulder and/or elbow issues after using them. There’s a different design for “no-pull” harnesses now – attaching the leash at the side to minimize stress on the dog’s joints, while achieving the same effect. It’s relatively new, but we’re liking what we’re seeing so far. 


If you’re not sure what to do – please ask! We want you and your dog to enjoy your walks together. We’re easy to reach and happy to help!

The perfect dog harness

You and your dog are special. There’s no other person/pup duo like yours. Your relationship is unique, your situation is one-of-a-kind, and your challenges and joys are singularly yours. There is a perfect dog harness for you.

Case 1: Oreo

For example: a close neighbor here at the shop has two little dogs: Panda and Oreo. Panda is a delightful, feminine, playful Japanese Chin. Oreo is not as easy to love – he’s a Shih Tzu who had a rough start in life and has some issues.

Shih Tzu Oreo and Japanese Chin PandaOreo can’t easily be handled and isn’t very trusting. Their owner, a woman with some mobility challenges, needs a harness she can leave on Oreo all the time. He refuses to put up with much handling.

Leaving a harness on all the time isn’t something we recommend. It’s too easy, especially for small dogs, to get caught on something and wind up in trouble. But in this case, with the dual circumstance of an aggressive dog and a disabled owner, we had to find a good solution.

The perfect dog harness for Oreo is the Yellow Dog Design Step-in. The strappy harness won’t make him too hot. Oreo has a good coat of fur. It’s smooth and won’t cause tangling. And no one has to reach underneath or fuss much with the buckle, since it’s a pinch clasp at the shoulder blades.

Fitting Oreo’s harness required gloves and many, many, many Chicken Heart Treats! We feel great when we see him walking around the neighborhood with his person. They’re both comfortable and safe.

Case 2: Coconut

Coconut, a Miniature Poodle, escaped from every harness his owners tried. His perfect dog harness is the Wrap-N-Go. It’s contained Coconut for several years now. But, on occasion, we still ask his people to bring Coconut in when we get new styles. Just so we know how long it takes a Houdini dog to wriggle out of them.

There is a perfect harness for every dog – but it’s not the same for all dogs. You and your dog’s individual circumstances and quirks will dictate which of dozens of harnesses suit your walking style best.

We love getting to know you and your dogs and finding the solutions that make everyone safe, comfortable, and happy.

Try our online Do It Yourself Harness Picker anytime to check out a few recommendations from our experts.

For a highly personalized recommendation, submit a Harness Selector form. We’ll get to know a little about you and your dog and give specific make, model, and size options for you and your dog.