To Harness or to Collar, that is the Question.
Harness Vs. Collar - The Experts Weigh In
It’s an age-old question that every man and his er.. dog.. have an answer for, but who knows if you’re actually doing the best thing for your pup? We’ve done the (months of) research for you and can finally share the experts’ opinions and findings on whether you should be walking your best friend on a collar or a harness. However, just like human children, raising puppers is a hard task and nobody is expected to know it ALL. The best we can do is read the research, learn the techniques and decide for ourselves. Once you have made your own decision, stick to it and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!
Right from when they are tiny babes, a lot of trainers will tell you that your new furiend will learn the ‘rules’ of walking on a lead the quickest if you connect the lead to your dog’s collar. Their reasons are aligned with the Dominance Theory of dog training, where the pain and possible distress that you inflict on your dog when you tug on the lead to correct their direction or behaviour will quickly teach them not to behave in the same way again or it will hurt.
As promised by some trainers, this method works quickly, but just like our humans parents, and their parents’ parents used to smack them on the bottom for behaving badly, the Dominance Theory of training might also be outdated.
The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in South Australia (Australia’s leading Animal Welfare Charity) recently launched a campaign named ‘Lead by Example’ to promote force-free training and positive reinforcement when teaching your dog to walk on a lead. With the support of The Humane Society of the United States, the RSPCA suggest that rewarding your dog for good behaviour with a treat, verbal praise or more play time will result in a positive experience for both human and pup and increase the likelihood that your doggo will want to do that again. Their opinion on the Dominance Theory of training or tugging on the lead to inflict pain and correct behaviour can damage the relationship between humans and dogs. They suggest that this action can cause your pawfriend to see walking as ‘unsafe’ and you, as their human, won’t protect them. As a result, the RSPCA in conjunction with other animal welfare organisations worldwide, always recommend walking with a supportive harness where corrections don’t cause pain or intimidation, allowing reward-based training to be most achievable.
Cindy Ludwig, a Certified professional dog trainer with a background in science and healthcare also suggests that walking on a harness is always preferable to prevent neck and throat trauma or indirect damage to the eyes caused by walking on a collar. Just as humans’ sinuses are all connected and a sore throat can quickly be felt in your ears or a runny nose, so too are our pupper’s sinuses. Pulling against the throat can cause damage to other areas of your dog’s head or sinus area.
Cindy prefers the even distribution of pressure that comes with using a harness over a larger, less vulnerable area where the chest bone sits. She also addresses the common thought that harnesses teach dogs to pull as a complete myth, saying “harnesses don’t teach dogs to pull, pulling teaches dogs to pull”. That said, let your dog think pulling is okay, and pup will pull with or without a harness on.
As a result of this research and evidence, we designed our unique step-in dog harnesses to sit just below your dog’s throat where they can still be supportive without causing damage or pain. We specially designed the front chest plate to be wider than any other harnesses we found on the market to ensure the chest bone would take the full force of pulling and tested several locations of the D-Ring before confirming our chosen position pulled the harness back in the right direction. On top of that, we added some extra comfort features like our custom neck clip that allows for the neck to be adjustable and secure, not to mention your puppers don’t have to squish these harnesses over their heads like other supportive harnesses on the market. Oh, and did we mention the added bonus of the SUPER cute patterns?
Want to read the full articles and statements that were the basis of our research?
Click here to go through to RSPCA South Australia: Lead by Example Campaign and Training Advice
Click here to go through to Cindy Ludwig’s accredited advice.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!