Dog Collars, Leds And Harnesses: A Guide
dog pulling on the lead
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Dog Collars, Leads, Harnesses: A Guide

Are you worried that too much harness restraint might curb your dog's love of life?  Or perhaps you are considering transitioning your furry best friend from a collar to a harness?  Whatever you choose c

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an help your dog be a good member of society and have you swelling with pride when stepping out with your pooch.  


Perhaps your furry friend is still learning to walk on a lead and you're in the market for a harness? 


Or, maybe you're looking for the perfect collar for your dog?


Either way, we're all required, by law, to put a collar on our dog whenever we are in public, and, if you want to avoid paying a fine, your contact details need to be attached. The Control of Dogs Order of 1992 stipulates that the collar has your name and address, including postcode, engraved or written on it; or engraved on a tag. It’s optional to include your telephone number but recommended.


It’s no problem to take the collar off when your dog’s at home, but anywhere else, collar on! 


dog with collar


Are you an always-on dog owner? If you’re often popping out together it makes sense to keep it on most of the time. Should the unforeseen happen, and your dog runs away, or gets lost, it will be easier and quicker to be reunited if your contact information is clearly displayed.


If you have a new puppy, it does take a time to get them used to a collar – and a leash, and it helps to be methodical about training. You can expect this process to take about a fortnight, although some dogs only need a few hours. As with any form of training, it’s good to remember that all dogs are individuals and that a rewards-based training is the right thing to do. 


Most dogs actually enjoy wearing their collars, and they’ll display signs of ownership, even. If you take it off at home, don’t be altogether amazed if they take the collar to their basket, or wherever they stash their favourite things!


dog holding collar


Generally speaking, you’ll probably prefer what’s called a flat collar and harness for your dog, for walking, training and adventures outside of your home.


The harness school of thought points us to the research that a collar can damage the nerves in the dog's front legs, as well as injuring the neck and thyroid, if the dog is pulling away from you.  Harnesses are traditionally used when training your dog but if your dog is pulling on the leash it’s undoubtedly kinder to use a harness.  You cut out the hazards of pressure on the neck area, instead the pressure is dispersed over a larger area of the body. 


handsome harness


What a harness does usually give you is greater control of your dog, which is handy if you have a bigger breed or a hyperactive pooch; although if your dog has behavioural problems such as aggression or a tendency to jump, you may need more help than what a harness can offer. 


There’s nothing more ideal than training your dog to walk on a loose lead. 


Love coordinated outfits?  Let your dog step out in a matching dog lead and collar!


A collar should be neither too tight nor too loose. Follow the two-finger rule, which recommends that you should be able to slip two fingers between their neck and their collar. If you’ve ever had your dog slip its collar, you’ll know that Too Loose is not a kindness, and could have dangerous consequences. Also, keep an eye out for any injuries such as muscle strain in the neck area, could indicate that it's time to try a harness.


collar and neck strain


For the most effective training, trainers will sometimes recommend that you use both a harness and a collar. If you attach your leash to the harness it will keep your dog securely connected to you while eliminating strain on their neck. Many harnesses give you the option of attaching the lead to the back or the front.


The flat collar is certainly the most popular collar, but there are others that you might wish to consider.


The head collar, which is similar to a horse’s halter, slips over your dog’s snout and attaches behind his ears. It can be used to stop your dog from pulling, and it can also calm him down, as it gives him far less of a sense of control. But not all dogs will be happy to have this device fitted, and if not used properly it can jerk the head abruptly, which is potentially harmful to head and neck muscles.


Some of the other training collars that are available are considered harmful and cruel.  Here’s what the experts had to say on the matter.


RSPCA policy is to recommend owners don’t use choke chains as they’re painful and potentially dangerous to dogs.”   RSPCA


Choke and prong collars are designed to punish dogs for pulling by inflicting pain and discomfort.  They can cause serious physical and emotional damage to dogs and should never be used.”    PETA


Bark activated shock and spray collars are ineffective; a transitory reduction in barking may occur when the collar is initially worn but this effect does not remain.”  Dogs Trust


dog on a slack lead


When considering best practice it’s all about the circumstances.  Are you popping around the corner where clipping the lead to the collar is quick and easy  or are you going for a long walk where the harness might be more comfortable.  Happy 'walkies' is when your dog is walking comfortably by your side on a slack lead.


If you and your dog aren’t quite there yet, why not try some dog training of your own? Meet Adaptil's clinical animal behaviourist, Charlotte Carr. Check out her 10 Tips for Training your Dog at Home.



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