Can you walk a dog with just a Harness?

Can you walk a dog with just a Harness?

Hey there, dog lovers! It’s your go-to friend here, and today we’re tackling a debate as old as the first dog walk: should you walk your dog on a collar or a harness? If you’ve ever found yourself in a tug-of-war with your pup while trying to decide which is best, this post is for you!

For most dogs and their walking needs, a harness is often the better choice over a collar. Harnesses provide better control, distribute pressure safely across the body, and reduce strain on your dog’s neck and throat.

Now that we’ve settled that, let’s delve deeper into why harnesses often take the lead in the walk gear race and how choosing the right type can make your walks safer and more enjoyable for both you and your pup.

Why Opt for a Harness Over a Collar?

Harnesses shine when it comes to the safety and comfort they offer during walks. Unlike collars, which can put harmful pressure on a dog’s throat, especially if they pull, harnesses distribute this pressure more evenly around the chest and shoulders. This is particularly beneficial for small breeds or dogs with respiratory issues, where pressure on the throat can lead to choking or increased eye pressure.

Pros of Using a Dog Harness

  1. Reduced Risk of Neck Injury: Unlike collars, harnesses distribute pressure across a broader area of the body—across the chest and back—reducing the strain on the neck. This is particularly important for breeds prone to tracheal collapse or those with respiratory issues.
  2. Improved Control: Harnesses offer better control over dogs, especially those that are large or tend to pull. This can make walks safer and more enjoyable, especially in crowded or potentially dangerous environments.
  3. Suitable for Training: Harnesses can help in training dogs not to pull on the leash. With features like front attachment points, they allow for steering the dog, which can help in correcting pulling behavior.
  4. Prevents Escaping: Properly fitted harnesses are harder for dogs to slip out of compared to collars. This can be crucial for dogs that are adept at wiggling out of a collar.
  5. Comfort and Safety: Many harnesses are designed with padding to enhance comfort, making them suitable for prolonged use during walks, runs, or hikes.
  6. Versatile Designs: Harnesses come in various designs tailored to specific needs, such as no-pull harnesses, car safety harnesses, and tactical harnesses with attachments for gear.

Cons of Using a Dog Harness

  1. Can Encourage Pulling: Some back-clip harnesses can actually encourage pulling in dogs not yet trained to walk nicely on a leash. The harness doesn’t cause discomfort when pulling, which doesn’t deter the behavior.
  2. Proper Fit Required: Getting the right fit can be challenging, especially for dogs with unique body shapes. An improperly fitted harness can lead to chafing, discomfort, or even escape.
  3. Initial Resistance: Some dogs may not like the feel of a harness and can show resistance or discomfort initially. It may take some time and patience to acclimate a dog to wearing a harness.
  4. Complexity: Harnesses can be more complex to put on and take off compared to collars. This might be inconvenient for quick outings or for dogs that don’t cooperate during the process.
  5. Can Affect Movement: If not well-designed, a harness can restrict a dog’s natural movement, especially in the shoulder area, which could lead to discomfort or issues with gait over time.
  6. Heat and Weight: Some heavier or more padded harnesses can cause dogs to overheat in warm weather or be cumbersome to wear for smaller or delicate breeds.

Dog Collars


  • Simplicity and Convenience: Collars are generally easier to put on and take off compared to harnesses. They are good for quick trips outside.
  • ID and License Attachment: It’s straightforward to attach identification tags and licenses to a collar, which is essential in case the dog gets lost.
  • Training: Some types of training collars are designed to aid in behavioral training, such as teaching a dog not to pull on the leash.


  • Potential for Neck Injury: Pulling on a collar can lead to neck strain or injury, especially in breeds susceptible to conditions like collapsed trachea or those with delicate neck structures.
  • Less Control: Particularly with strong or large dogs, a collar provides less control over the animal than a harness, which can be a downside in busy or potentially dangerous environments.

Harnesses and Training: A Perfect Match?

Some might argue that collars are better for training because they offer more control over a dog’s head and neck, making corrections easier. However, modern training methods have shown that positive reinforcement and proper harness use can effectively train dogs without the potential harm caused by collars.

Harnesses can be just as effective for training when used correctly. Particularly, front-clip harnesses help manage pulling by redirecting your dog towards you, making it easier to gain their attention and reinforce good walking habits. Discover training tips with a harness at harness training tip

Picking the Right Harness

Not all harnesses are created equal. The key to making a harness work for you and your dog is selecting the right type. Look for a harness that fits well—too loose and your dog might escape; too tight and it could cause discomfort. Adjustable harnesses with padding at the chest and back are ideal for comfort and effective pressure distribution.

For a guide on choosing the perfect harness for your dog, tailored to their size and walking style, visit how to choose dog harness.

The Collar’s Place in a Dog’s Life

While this post champions harnesses for walks, collars still have an important role in a dog’s life, especially as a tag holder for identification and as a fashion statement. Collars are suitable for dogs who don’t pull on the leash and can be used safely in controlled environments to carry essential ID tags.

Harnesses in Special Scenarios

Harnesses also prove their worth in special walking scenarios, such as hiking or navigating busy urban settings. They provide better control and security in environments where a quick, controlled response from your dog is crucial.


While both collars and harnesses have their place in the world of dog accessories, harnesses often offer more benefits for regular walks, especially in terms of safety and control. Choosing the right harness can make a world of difference in your walking experience.

QQPETS is the leading wholesale dog harness manufacturer of adjustable harnesses for dogs and other items that people may use when walking their dogs. Our goal is to make dog walking easy for pet owners by providing valuable accessories. We offer a variety of customization services including custom logos, custom graphics, custom products and more. If you want to start your dog products business, check out our website and contact us today.

FAQ about dog walking

1. How long should I walk my dog each day?

Answer: The length of a dog walk depends on the breed, age, and health of the dog. Most dogs benefit from walks of 30 minutes to an hour daily, but high-energy breeds may require more.

2. How can I tell if the walk is too long for my dog?

Answer: Watch for signs of fatigue, such as heavy panting, lagging behind, or lying down. If your dog shows these signs, it’s time to head home.

3. Is it okay to walk my dog off-leash?

Answer: Walking a dog off-leash is okay in designated areas if they have a reliable recall and are not aggressive toward other animals or people. Always follow local leash laws.

4. What should I do if my dog pulls on the leash?

Answer: Use a no-pull harness or head collar to manage pulling. Consistently practice leash training, rewarding your dog for walking with a loose leash.

5. Can walking on pavement hurt my dog’s paws?

Answer: Prolonged walking on hot or rough pavement can hurt your dog’s paws. Use paw protectors or choose grassy or soft paths when possible.

6. How many times a day should I walk my dog?

Answer: Most dogs require at least one walk per day, but many benefit from two or more, especially if they’re highly active or don’t have access to a yard.

7. What is the best time of day to walk my dog?

Answer: The best times are in the morning and evening when the temperatures are cooler. Avoid midday walks during hot weather to prevent overheating.

8. Can I walk my dog immediately after eating?

Answer: It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before walking, especially for breeds prone to bloat. Walking right after eating can lead to digestive issues.

9. How can I make dog walks more enjoyable for my dog?

Answer: Vary your walking routes, allow time for sniffing and exploration, and bring along toys or treats for engagement.

10. What do I do if my dog is afraid of going on walks?

Answer: Gradually acclimate your dog to the harness and walking environment. Use positive reinforcement and treats to create a positive association with walks. Consider consulting a professional trainer if the fear is severe.


Article by

Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

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Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

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