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Which Collars and Harnesses Are Best for Your Dog?

Learn which collars and harnesses are the best for walking and training your dog.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #102

Once upon a time, there were fewer cars and more open space. Nowadays, though, we have relatively few places where we can safely and legally walk our dogs off leash. Time to choose the best equipment for your dog.

Which Collars and Harnesses Are Best for Your Dog?

“Collar plus leash” seems obvious, but then you get to the pet supply place and find dozens of choices. Collar, halter, harness? Nylon, cotton, leather? What makes one kind of leash better than another, anyway?

I started this article expecting it to wind up short and sweet. As usual, though, once I got started I found I had plenty to say. So this week I’ll cover collars and harnesses, and I’ll save the discussion of halters and leashes for next time. 

What Is the Best Equipment for Your Dog?

One important point that applies to any equipment you use with your dog: Equipment won’t do the training for you. A leash will limit your dog’s movements to the space within a few feet of you. A so-called “correction” delivered with a choke collar will briefly cut off his air supply. (What’s the opposite of “recommend,” anyway?) A front-clip harness will divert the force your dog puts into pulling. But none of them will teach your dog how to keep the leash slack as she walks with you. The best equipment just helps you manufacture behavior that you can then reward. In another article, I talked about some ways to encourage your dog to walk politely on leash. Plenty of good books on reward-based training can help, and so can a class or private lessons. Ultimately, you’ve got to do the work to get the results you want. 

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About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).