Is a Harness Better Than a Halter for Dogs?

Is a Harness Better Than a Halter for Dogs?

Is a Harness Better Than a Halter for Dogs?

Ever watched a dog fashion show in the park? Collars, halters, harnesses—oh my! Choosing between a harness and a halter is like deciding whether to wear sneakers or high heels on a hike. Comfort, control, and style all play their part. But when push comes to shove (or pull, in the case of our canine companions), which reigns supreme?

For most dogs, harnesses often outshine halters in terms of comfort and safety, distributing pressure more evenly around the body instead of concentrating it on the neck.

Why is this important? Stick around, and I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of choosing the best gear for your furry friend.

What’s the Difference Between a Halter and a Harness?

First things first, let’s define our terms. A halter fits around a dog’s head and guides the head, while a harness encircles the body and distributes force more broadly across the chest and shoulders. Think of a halter as a steering wheel for your dog’s head and a harness as a seatbelt that offers security and support.

Halters are great for quick control but can be confusing for dogs—they lead from the head, after all, and not every pup appreciates the direction from this angle.

What is a dog harness and Why is it Used?

A dog harness is a piece of equipment designed to fit securely around a dog’s body, with straps that typically go around the neck, across the chest, and sometimes under the belly. It is used as an alternative to a traditional collar, especially for attaching a leash and managing the dog while walking.

Why is it Used?

1. Improved Control: Harnesses provide better control over dogs, particularly those that pull, jump, or are easily distracted. The design allows owners to guide the dog’s body rather than just the neck.

2. Reduce Neck Strain: By distributing pressure across a larger area of the dog’s body (chest and back), harnesses reduce strain on the neck. This is particularly beneficial for breeds prone to respiratory issues or tracheal collapse, like pugs and bulldogs.

3. Safety and Security: Harnesses are excellent for securing dogs in the car to prevent distractions and to protect the dog in the case of sudden stops. They are also harder for dogs to slip out of compared to collars, which adds an element of safety during walks.

4. Training Aid: Especially beneficial for training puppies and adult dogs alike, harnesses can be used to teach dogs not to pull without causing them discomfort or harm. They are effective tools in behavior modification training.

5. Comfort and Stability: Many harnesses are padded for extra comfort, which helps prevent rubbing and chafing that can occur with collars, especially during long walks or vigorous activity.

Types of Dog Harnesses

There are several types of harnesses, each designed for specific needs:

  • Back-clip harnesses: Have a leash attachment on the back and are suitable for small breeds and dogs that do not pull much.
  • Front-clip harnesses: Have a leash attachment on the chest and are used to train dogs not to pull by redirecting their movement.
  • Dual-clip harnesses: Offer both front and back attachments, giving the owner more control options.
  • No-pull harnesses: Specifically designed to discourage pulling. When the dog pulls, the harness tightens slightly around the dog, which is uncomfortable and encourages them to stop pulling.

In conclusion, dog harnesses are versatile tools that can improve walking and training experiences by providing more control, reducing strain on the dog’s body, and increasing safety. They are particularly useful for dogs with medical issues related to the neck or back, puppies in training, and dogs that require more control during walks.

What is a Head Halter and Why is it Used?

A head halter is a type of dog training tool that helps control a dog’s head movements, much like a halter used on horses. It consists of straps that wrap around the dog’s muzzle and behind the head.

Why is it Used?

1. Effective Control for Pulling: The primary reason to use a head halter is for effective control over a dog that pulls on the leash. When the dog tries to pull, the design of the head halter redirects the dog’s head towards the owner, naturally slowing the dog and refocusing its attention. This leverage makes it easier to guide and control the dog during walks.

2. Behavioral Training: Head halters are useful for training dogs to walk calmly by your side. They are particularly helpful for managing large dogs or those with strong pulling behaviors that can be difficult to manage with a standard collar or harness.

3. Safety and Prevention: By controlling the head, a head halter prevents the dog from lunging forward aggressively, which can be crucial for managing dogs with aggressive tendencies towards other animals or people.

4. Non-Painful Restraint: Unlike choke chains or prong collars, head halters do not cause pain or discomfort to the dog when used properly. They offer a humane alternative for controlling and training dogs without relying on painful stimuli.

Considerations When Using a Head Halter

  • Acclimatization: Dogs may need time to get used to wearing a head halter as it can feel strange or uncomfortable at first. Gradual introduction with positive reinforcement can help them adjust.
  • Proper Fitting: Ensuring the head halter fits correctly is crucial. It should be tight enough so the dog can’t paw it off but not so tight that it rubs or causes discomfort, especially around the muzzle and behind the ears.
  • Not for Continuous Wear: The head halter should only be used during training or walking sessions and not as a regular collar. Dogs shouldn’t wear it unsupervised, as they could injure themselves trying to remove it.
  • Training: Proper training on how to use a head halter is essential. Incorrect use can lead to neck injuries if the dog is jerked too harshly.

In summary, head halters can be a valuable tool for training and m

Why Might a Harness Be a Better Choice?

Harnesses shine when it comes to providing comfort and safety. They’re particularly adept at preventing injuries that can occur from pulling or sudden movements, especially important for breeds prone to respiratory or tracheal issues. Plus, harnesses don’t send mixed signals like halters might, making them more straightforward for your dog to understand.

What Should I Look for in a Good Harness?

When scouting for the perfect harness, consider fit, material, and ease of use. It should fit snugly but not too tight, with enough room to slip two fingers under any strap. Materials should be durable yet comfortable, such as breathable mesh or padded nylon, to prevent rubbing and chafing.

How Does Harness Training Compare to Halter Training?

Training with a harness can offer a more humane approach to teaching polite leash manners. Harnesses encourage dogs to walk without pulling, using side attachment points that gently guide rather than control. It’s like dancing with a partner instead of leading with a tug.

Are There Times When a Halter Might Be Preferable?

Sure, halters have their place. For instance, if you’re dealing with an extremely aggressive puller or a dog that needs immediate behavior correction, a halter might give you the quick control necessary to manage a tricky situation. However, for long-term use and especially for puppies, a harness is usually the better way to build good habits.

How Do I Transition My Dog From a Halter to a Harness?

Transitioning from a halter to a harness can be as smooth as switching from coffee to tea if you do it right. Start by introducing the harness during fun activities, where the harness is associated with positive experiences. Gradually increase the time your dog spends in the harness, and use plenty of treats and praise to reinforce good behavior.


Whether you choose a halter or a harness, the best choice depends on your dog’s specific needs and your training goals. However, for overall comfort, safety, and effective training, harnesses typically have the edge.

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 harness and a dog halter

Are Harnesses or Leads Better for Dogs?

The terms “harnesses” and “leads” often refer to different components of dog walking equipment:

  • Harnesses are worn around the body of the dog and are designed to distribute pressure more evenly than collars, which can help prevent injury and provide better control over the dog.
  • Leads (or leashes) are used in conjunction with a collar or harness to control the dog while walking.

Generally, whether a harness or a collar (to which a lead attaches) is better depends on your dog’s behavior, size, and any specific health concerns. Harnesses are typically better for dogs that pull, have respiratory or tracheal issues, or are prone to slipping out of collars. They are also advantageous for training puppies to walk beside you without exerting pressure on their necks.

What’s the Difference Between a Dog Harness and a Dog Halter?

  • Dog Harness: A harness fits around the dog’s body – typically around the chest and back. It is designed to distribute the force of pulling across the dog’s chest and shoulders, reducing strain on the neck and back.
  • Dog Halter: A halter fits around the dog’s head, similar to a horse halter. The most common type of dog halter is the head collar, which controls the dog’s head movement. When the dog tries to pull, the halter directs their head towards you, making it easier to guide the dog and prevent pulling.

Is it Better to Walk Your Dog on a Leash or Harness?

  • Walking a dog on a leash attached to a collar can be suitable for dogs that do not pull and are well-trained. However, for dogs that pull, are in training, or have any neck sensitivity, a harness is generally better. A harness provides safer and more comfortable control over the dog without the risk of choking or injuring the neck.

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

  • Collar: Can be effective for well-behaved dogs and is often used for basic obedience training. Specific types of training collars (like martingale collars) are used to provide gentle corrections. However, traditional collars are not recommended for dogs prone to pulling or with neck issues.
  • Harness: Ideal for training dogs not to pull and for puppies still learning to walk on a leash. Harnesses offer better control and reduce the risk of injury associated with pulling. They are particularly useful for physically controlling larger breeds or strong dogs during training sessions.

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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