The Difference Between Collars and Harnesses


Traditional collars are great for some dogs, especially well-trained dogs that have no pulling or breathing problems. Collars are designed to have minimal control over the dog but if the animal does pull then all the pressure will be on the neck.

When pressure is applied to the dog's neck, because it is either trying to pull ahead or you are trying to bring him back, it can cause a whole host of problems. The most common problems with collars in these circumstances are:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Muscle and trachea (wind pipe) damage
  • No response from the dog because he is fighting the pressure around his neck
  • Pain

Now, these are not good conditions for the dog when pulling happens which is why a harness can be better for both you and your pet in the long run.


Harnesses are designed to go around the dog's torso (back, chest and shoulders) instead of the neck. They work in a similar way to collars but instead of the pressure being all on the neck it is distributed across the shoulders, chest and back minimizing any pain and damage. 

If your dog is hyper-active or has a tendency to pull too much which causes him to wheeze and cough, by switching to a harness you will end these problems and have better control over his behavior. 

Now that the dog isn't fighting against the collar he will be able to identify what you want from him and correct his behavior. Using treats to reinforce good behavior is a great tool too.

Harnesses often double up as a safety belt in a car so that you can easily strap in your pet to make him safe while the vehicle is in motion. 

It is important to measure your dog for a correctly fitted harness otherwise he could easily wriggle out of it like a collar.

How to Measure Your Dog

Dog Sizing Guide



To get a good fit for your dog's harness you will need to get some measurements. Below is a table of what measurements you will need and the sizing categories for each harness. You will also find that the video above will show you where you will need to measure to get the right fitting.

Size Back Neck Chest
X-Small 7" 5.5" 12"
Small 9" 6.5" 15"
Medium 13" 8" 19"
Large 17" 10" 24"
X-Large 20" 13.5" 29"

When purchasing a harness you must make sure that the neck with allow for the head to go through or that it has a separate strap or buckling system. On some items you will find that the neck slot will not have any give so that it is impossible to get your dog's head through the slot in the first place. This is why I always suggest getting a harness with separate straps.




  • Great if you have control over your dog
  • Can cause neck damage and breathing problems if the animal pulls.


  • Great for getting maximum control over your dog
  • Distributes pressure over the torso and not the neck which minimizes damage
  • Doubles up as a seat belt in vehicles

Soft Dog Harness

Authentic Puppia Soft Dog Harness, Red - Medium
Amazon Price: $20.99 $13.05 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 5, 2013)
This harness has an adjustable chest and quick-release buckle system so easily get your dog in and out. The 100% polyester harness is padded for comfort and also machine washable if your dog decides to go for a swim in the mud.