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Collars, Harnesses, and Leashes - Oh My!

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There are many different types of collars, harnesses, and leashes on the market for our four-legged friends. But how do you know which is the best for your dog? The choices can be overwhelming, but knowing what you’re looking for in terms of your needs can make it a lot easier!


Let’s start with collars. Collars go around a dog’s neck. They are usually used with a leash and can be used to hold any ID tags your dog may have.

Dog with blue collarTraditional collar – a traditional collar either buckles or snaps around a dog’s neck. They are made from a variety of materials, including nylon and leather. They also come in varying widths. Wider collars are more durable and should be used for bigger, stronger dogs. The most important thing about collars is the it – you don’t want your collar to be too loose, here you risk the dog getting out of the collar. But you also don’t want it to be too tight, this can cause irritation and restriction of breathing. A good rule of thumb for fitting a collar is that you should be able to fit two fingers under the collar when it is around the dog’s neck. This gives them enough space for comfort but not enough for them to escape from it.


Martingale collar – originally designed for dogs whose head is smaller than their neck. It is made with an extra loop of fabric that gently tightens if the dog pulls or backs up. Martingale collars work the same way as a choke collar but with a more comfortable material (nylon). These collars help control dogs and reduce leash pulling.



Chain choke collar

Choke collar – also called a chain collar. It is a chain that is looped through itself. The collar tightens when it gets pulled. When the leash is pulled, the collar tightens around the dog’s neck. This signals to the dog that they need to relax and stop pulling. These collars should not be used with dogs that have very small or fragile necks. It is used as a training device. These collars should not be left on the dog 24/7.


 Prong collar

Prong collar – prong collars are another metal collar. Each of the links on the collar has a set of prongs. The prongs set against the dog’s skin. Like the choke collar, the prong collar tightens when pulled. When tightened, the prongs press into the skin to signal to the dog to stop pulling. This can be an effective training aid, but only when it’s used properly. These collars should not be used on dogs with small fragile necks. They work best on larger breeds and dogs with thicker necks. These collars should never be left on 24/7.



Harnesses fit around the neck and chest around the shoulders, behind the front legs. Harnesses help take the force off the neck and places it around the body. Many people prefer walking with harnesses instead of collars because they feel it is more helpful in controlling the dog and there is no strain on the neck, which can result in coughing, choking, and difficulty breathing. Harnesses can be sized by measuring the dog’s girth (around the back behind the front legs).


Regular/traditional harness – this is also referred to as a back-clip harness. The clip of the lead is on the dog’s back. This type of harness is easy to put on and has adjustable straps for a secure fit. They are usually made with nylon or a similar material.Dog with blue harness

Front-clip harness – opposed to a regular harness where the clip is on the back, the clip for these harnesses is located on the front of the dog’s chest. These harnesses are great for pullers. When a dog in one of these harnesses pulls or tries to get too far ahead, they will be turned back around. This is helpful when you are training a dog to walk next to you instead of pulling ahead of you.

Dog with red no pull harness

Harness lead – a harness lead has a 2-in-1 design. It is made of a nylon rope material and works as a harness and a lead all in one. It securely wraps around a dog’s body. It tightens when pulled. This is a great harness because it is useful in dogs that pull and can fit all different shapes and sizes of dogs.Dog with harness and lead


Once you’ve chosen your collar or harness, next thing you need to choose is your leash! Leashes come in a variety of different styles, materials, lengths, and widths/thicknesses. Choosing the right one for your dog will make walks a breeze!


 Nylon leash


Regular/traditional leash – this type of leash is the most common and most basic. It is usually made with materials like nylon or leather. This has a clip for the collar/harness at one end and a handle at the other. They typically come in 4’ and 6’ lengths with a variety in widths. The longer the leash, the more space your dog will be able to move around.

Slip lead – a slip lead is a 2-in-1 design that combine the collar and the leash. The nylon rope material loops through itself and creates a collar. It goes around the dog’s neck and tightens when pulled. This can be used as an effective training aid for dogs that tend to pull when walking.Lead

Training lead – training leads are like your traditional leashes, except they are much longer. These range in lengths from 10’ up to 50’ or even 100’. They are used when training with a dog and you need them to go far away from you without being completely off leash.

Retractable leash

Retractable leash – retractable leashes are just that-a leash that can be let out and retracted, based on how far or close a dog is. This gives the dog a lot of freedom when walking, that is, if the owner allows it. The retractable leash can be locked at a certain length, or it can be unlocked for the dog to roam as it pleases. Retractable leashes can come in a cord or a belt. This is the material used for the actual leash part. The cord or belt retracts into the handle of the lead. Some people refer these leashes because they offer freedom and range of motion for dogs.

Coupler leash – coupler leashes look like regular leashes but at the end it splits off into a Y shape and has two clips. This is used for someone that is walking two dogs at once. Some people prefer this over using two separate leashes; they think it makes things easier.

Now that you’ve learned about some of the many collars, harnesses, and leashes out there, pick which ones you like and go out and enjoy that walk!

Man in city with numerous dogs on leashes

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