Harness vs. Collar: Why More Dog Owners Are Choosing Both

When you’re sniffing out the perfect accessories for your active pup, you’ll undoubtedly come across a ton of accessory options, including cute dog collars and harnesses. But which ones are truly necessary and which are a waste of money? In this guide, we’ll help you decide whether you need a harness or a collar (hint: it’s both) and how to avoid barking up the wrong tree in the collar aisle.

pair pugs sleep in harnesses

Collar vs. Harness: The Basics

Though they’re similar, harnesses and collars serve two separate purposes, and the reality is that you don’t want to skip out on either of them. Here’s a quick rundown of what each one is used for.

  • A dog collar is a traditional staple that goes around your pet’s neck and is used as a latch point for leashes and to display important information, like your pet’s information tag, vaccination tags and registration. It also helps you control and restrain your pet with your hand when needed. Since it holds their identification and other important info, your pup should almost always wear their collar, even if you’re just playing in the backyard. Make sure to choose the right kind of collar for your dog. The experts say that choke collars, prong collars, shock collars and any other style designed to force compliance are dangerous and can result in choking and serious injuries.
  • A dog harness is a pet accessory that goes around your dog’s neck, chest and torso and serves as a latch point for your leash. The unique design of the harness helps it better distribute weight across your pup’s body, which discourages pulling and makes it more comfortable for your pet on long walks or when connecting to a running (hands-free) leash or bike connector. Your pup should wear a cute dog harness anytime you go for a walk, run or ride.

Why Use Both a Collar and a Harness

Unless you do the same set of activities with your pet every single day or rarely take your pup for walks, the reality is that you’ll need both a collar and a leash to ensure that your dog is safe and comfortable in every scenario. Here are some specific scenarios when your pup should wear one or both.

  • Your dog should wear only a collar with correct identification info in confined off-leash environments, such as the backyard or in a free play area at doggie daycare. While comfy harnesses like ours won’t get in the way of your pup’s play or cause discomfort, they aren’t necessary unless you’re connecting a leash. Let your pup go collar-only at the vet, groomer or boarder, where the harness may get in the way of a professional doing their job.
Check Out the Cutest Dog Collars Around
  • Your dog should wear a collar and a harness anytime you’re going on a walk, run or bike ride. Harnesses help restrain your pet better than a collar and leash alone and help discourage pups from pulling, lunging, yanking or getting loose in dangerous environments. A harness is critical in high-stimulus environments, such as neighborhood walks where other dogs, squirrels, food on the side of the road or traffic may be distractions and cause an otherwise calm dog to want to pull or bolt. This will protect both you and your pup from injuries. They also help prevent your dog from getting tangled in a leash, which makes them the safer choice in busy environments. 
  • Your dog should wear a harness only in any of the above situations, as long as you’ve also attached the necessary identification to your pup’s harness. While it’s not the most practical accessory to wear around the house, your dog's harness can serve as the holding point for their personal information and vaccination tags, as long as you remember to switch them back to the collar when you get home.
  • Your dog should wear neither when it is unsupervised in an enclosed area, like a crate or exercise pen, and in certain rare instances. On occasion, letting your pup go commando (no collar) for a good neck scratch is OK once in a while, as long as you are 100 percent certain there’s no chance they will be able to get out. You should make sure your dog is microchipped so they can be identified even without a collar or tags. You may also need to remove your pup’s collar at the groomer or when bathing them at home.

pair frenchies wear harnesses

Shop Reversible Dog Harnesses!

Collars and harnesses aren’t just staple pieces of practical pet gear. They’re also fun ways to help you show off your dog’s gigantic personality. Pick out a reversible dog harness from Beast & Buckle’s huge selection to find a harness, collar or bundle that celebrates your pup’s personal style or gives a festive finish to their whole look.

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