Do Dog Trainers Recommend Collars or Harnesses?

Do Dog Trainers Recommend Collars or Harnesses?

Are you debating whether it’s better to buy a dog harness or a dog collar when you’re buying your dog’s walking gear? So look around the internet for answers and hopefully a professional will find you the answer? I’ve gathered all sorts of information from the internet and some trainer’s advice, so let’s take a look at which one is better!

Dog trainers often recommend the use of both collars and harnesses, depending on the specific needs of the dog, the training goals, and the particular situation. Here’s how trainers typically advise on the use of these tools:

  1. Harnesses for Training Specific Behaviors:
    • Control and Safety: Harnesses are often recommended for dogs that pull excessively or need careful handling. They provide better control over the dog’s movements without putting pressure on the neck.
    • Health Considerations: For dogs with respiratory issues, neck sensitivity, or a predisposition to injuries like a collapsed trachea, trainers usually recommend a harness to avoid any risk of neck damage.
    • Puppy Training: For young puppies, harnesses are often preferred because they are gentler and reduce the risk of injury during the formative months.
  2. Collars for General and Obedience Training:
    • Identification and Law Compliance: Collars are essential for holding identification tags, which is often required by law. They are convenient for quick walks and bathroom breaks.
    • Mild Behavior Corrections: For dogs that do not have major issues with pulling or aggression, a flat collar can be sufficient for basic training and walking.
    • Advanced Training: Some trainers use specialized training collars (like martingale collars) for specific training purposes, such as teaching a dog not to pull or to heel. These collars offer a combination of safety and correction.
  3. Trainer Preferences and Techniques:
    • Positive Reinforcement: Many modern trainers emphasize training methods based on positive reinforcement rather than correction. In such cases, the type of gear may be less critical than how it is used to manage, guide, and reward the dog.
    • Specialized Training: For specialized training such as agility, search and rescue, or service dog training, harnesses are often preferred because they offer specific attachment options and greater control without restricting the dog’s movement.

Overall, dog trainers recommend choosing the tool that best suits the dog’s health, the training context, and the handler’s ability to manage the dog safely and effectively. Both collars and harnesses have their place, and many trainers suggest having both on hand to use as needed. Often, pet owners find that having both a collar for identification and a harness for walks offers the best combination of convenience, safety, and control.

Dog Collars

Dog collars are one of the most common pet accessories. They encircle the dog’s neck and can serve multiple purposes, including holding ID tags, leashes, and sometimes training tools.


  • Convenience: Collars are easy to put on and take off. They are suitable for dogs to wear continuously, which is ideal for everyday identification.
  • Variety: Available in a wide range of materials, colors, and styles to suit different tastes and purposes.
  • Training: Certain types of training collars (like martingale collars) can be useful for behavioral training to prevent dogs from slipping out or to provide mild corrections.


  • Potential for Injury: Regular collars can pose a risk of neck injuries for dogs that pull strongly or are very active. They can also contribute to tracheal collapse in smaller breeds.
  • Less Control: For more robust or very active dogs, collars offer less control than harnesses, which can make managing behavior challenging during walks.

Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses are worn around a dog’s body and typically have attachment points on the back or chest. They are designed to distribute leash pressure more evenly around the dog’s body.


  • Reduced Neck Strain: Harnesses eliminate pressure on the neck, which is safer for the dog’s trachea and spine, especially in breeds prone to respiratory or back issues.
  • Increased Control: Especially useful for dogs that pull, as harnesses offer better control without the associated risk of injury.
  • Ideal for Training: Helps manage and train dogs without the risk of choking or hurting them, making it easier to teach walking etiquette and other behaviors.


  • Can Be Cumbersome: Harnesses are typically more complicated to put on than collars, requiring the dog to step into or have it pulled over the head.
  • Fit Issues: It’s crucial to get the right fit; a poorly fitting harness can be uncomfortable for the dog and may allow the dog to escape if not properly secured.
  • Heat Retention: Some harness designs can be bulky and retain heat, which might be uncomfortable for some dogs in warm climates.

How to measure the size of a dog collar?

Measuring the size of a dog collar accurately is crucial to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Materials Needed:

  • A flexible tape measure or a piece of string and a ruler.
  • A well-behaved dog (treats might help keep them still).

Steps to Measure for a Dog Collar:

  1. Get Your Dog Ready: Have your dog stand comfortably in an upright position. This makes it easier to access their neck and ensures you get a precise measurement.
  2. Measure the Neck: Place the tape measure around the thickest part of your dog’s neck, near the shoulders. This is usually where the collar will sit. If you’re using a string, wrap it around the neck and then measure the length of the string with a ruler.
  3. Ensure the Right Fit: The key to a well-fitting collar is to make sure it’s not too tight or too loose. You should aim to fit two fingers comfortably between the tape measure (or string) and your dog’s neck. This space ensures the collar will be snug enough to not slip off while being loose enough to not cause discomfort or restrict breathing.
  4. Check for Size Variations: If your dog is between sizes, it’s generally safer to go with the larger size and adjust down if possible. Some collars have adjustable lengths, which can be very useful to fine-tune the fit.
  5. Consider Hair Length: If your dog has fluctuating hair lengths due to grooming (like Poodles or Shih Tzus), measure them when they have a longer coat, since that’s when the collar may fit most snugly.
  6. Record the Measurement: Write down the measurement, as it will guide you in selecting the correct collar size. Most collars are sized in inches and will often give a range (e.g., 14-18 inches).

Additional Tips:

  • Type of Collar: Consider the width of the collar as well. Wider collars can distribute pressure more evenly, which is better for larger dogs or those that pull. Smaller, thinner collars may be more comfortable for smaller breeds.
  • Recheck Regularly: It’s a good idea to check the collar’s fit regularly, especially if your dog is still growing or tends to gain or lose weight.
  • Specialty Collars: If you’re choosing a training collar, such as a martingale, the measurement might differ slightly due to the design of the collar. Follow specific brand guidelines for measuring and fitting these types of collars.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your dog’s collar is a perfect fit, providing safety, comfort, and style for your furry friend.

How to measure the size of a dog collar?

Measuring your dog for a harness correctly is essential to ensure a comfortable and secure fit. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to measure for a dog harness:

Materials Needed:

  • A flexible tape measure or a piece of string and a ruler.
  • A calm dog (having some treats on hand can help keep them still).

Steps to Measure for a Dog Harness:

  1. Prepare Your Dog: Have your dog stand up straight in a natural position. This helps ensure that the measurements taken are accurate and that the harness will fit well when your dog moves.
  2. Measure the Neck: Wrap the tape measure around the base of your dog’s neck, where the collar would sit. This is not the primary measurement for a harness but is useful for styles that include a neck loop.
  3. Measure the Chest (Girth): This is the most critical measurement for a harness. Place the tape measure around the widest part of your dog’s chest, usually just behind the front legs. Make sure the tape measure is snug but not tight — you should be able to fit two fingers under the tape.
  4. Consider Other Measurements: Some harnesses might require additional measurements, such as the length of the back (from the base of the neck to the base of the tail), or the width of the chest (from shoulder to shoulder). Check the manufacturer’s instructions if additional measurements are needed.
  5. Choose the Correct Size: Once you have your measurements, compare them with the sizing chart provided by the harness manufacturer. Each brand may vary slightly, so it’s important to use the specific sizing chart for the harness you are considering. If your dog falls between sizes, it’s generally best to choose the larger size and adjust the harness for a snug fit.
  6. Adjustability: Look for a harness that offers adjustable straps. Adjustability ensures you can fine-tune the fit after putting it on your dog, which is particularly important for ensuring comfort and security.

Additional Tips:

  • Checking the Fit: After purchasing the harness, put it on your dog and adjust the straps to the proper tightness. You should still be able to fit two fingers under any strap. Watch for any signs of discomfort or restriction in movement, which might indicate that the harness is too tight or too loose.
  • Movement Check: Have your dog walk, run, and jump while wearing the harness to ensure it stays in place and doesn’t rub or chafe anywhere.
  • Recheck Fit Regularly: Especially if your dog is still growing, regularly check the fit of the harness and adjust as needed. Also, check periodically in adult dogs, as their weight and body condition may change.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your dog’s harness fits properly, providing safety and comfort during your walks and adventures.


In the great collar vs. harness debate, the winner is whichever meets your dog’s needs the best. Tailor your choice to your pup, and you’ll both be happier for it!

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 collar and dog harness

Is It Better to Train a Dog with a Collar or Harness?

  • Harnesses are often recommended for training, especially for dogs that pull or are just beginning to learn leash manners. A harness provides better control without putting pressure on the dog’s neck, which can be crucial for preventing injury and ensuring comfort.
  • Collars can be effective for trained dogs or for specific training techniques that require precise control over the dog’s head and neck. However, they should be used cautiously to avoid neck strain or injury.

Do Vets Recommend Collars or Harnesses?

  • Veterinarians typically recommend harnesses, especially for dogs with neck, back, or respiratory issues, as they distribute pressure more evenly across the body and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Collars are essential for identification and are recommended for wear at all times in case the dog gets lost. However, for the physical activity of walking and training, especially if the dog pulls, vets often prefer harnesses.

Do Dog Trainers Recommend Harnesses?

  • Many dog trainers recommend harnesses for both training and walking because they provide safer and more effective control, reduce the risk of injury, and can help manage specific behavioral issues like pulling.
  • Harnesses that attach at the front can discourage pulling by redirecting the dog’s attention towards the owner, making them particularly useful for training purposes.

Should a Dog Pull a Harness or Collar?

  • It is generally safer and more humane for a dog to pull against a harness rather than a collar. Pulling on a collar can lead to neck strain, potential injuries, and other health concerns, whereas a harness distributes the force across a broader area of the dog’s body, mitigating these risks.

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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