Finding the appropriate collar or harness for your pet can be especially difficult nowadays. Not only are there endless colors and patterns to choose from, there are many different styles available. These are some questions to consider when deciding on the appropriate collar or harness style for your pet:

  • Do you walk your dog frequently?
  • Does your dog pull?
  • How big is your dog?
  • Who will be walking the dog and how much control do they need?
  • What kinds of collars are available to you?
  • Does your pet get wet frequently?
Standard adjustable buckle collar

(Great for identification purposes for all dogs)

Pro: Best used for dogs that don’t pull or just need something to hold their ID tags.

Con: Neck strain if used to walk a dog that pulls. If sized incorrectly, dogs can slip out. Collars should be tight enough to only allow two fingers to fit between the neck and collar. For dogs that swim and are often wet, a biothane collar is best. Biothane is waterproof and weather resistant. Collars made from biothane are flexible and sturdy, making them a great option for active dogs.


Martingale collar

(Great for all dogs)

Pros: Identification. These collars are designed to cinch up a certain amount if your dog pulls, making it less likely to slip over the dog’s head causing them to become free and at risk of being hit by a car or attacked by another dog.

Con: Neck strain if used for walking a dog that pulls.


Head collar

(Ideal for large dogs, dogs that severely pull, elderly owners or child owners.)

Pros: Keeps the pulling to a minimum making it easy for a child or the elderly to walk a large, excitable dog.

Cons: It can take time and effort for the dog to adjust to this useful training device. If the head collar is not attached to the neck collar, it is possible for the dog to get the head collar off and become loose. Use a backup attachment in scenarios where if the dog became loose they would be in immediate danger.


Choke/slip collar

(Best to use a head collar instead. It could be used in addition to a head collar for maximum security and control.)

Pros: Difficult for dogs to slip out, easy to clean, unlikely to break.

Cons: Neck injury, can cause or escalate aggression


Prong Collar

(Do not recommend)

Pros: Easy to clean, unlikely to break.
Cons: Neck injury, can cause or escalate aggression due to pain.


Shock collar

(Use with caution and under trainer supervision)

Pros: Combined with an invisible fence, it can keep a dog on your property and in some cases it can help with behavior training.

Cons: If used incorrectly, it can cause painful burns/lesions and cause higher levels of stress.


What kind of harness should I get? Should the leash attach in the front or the back?

 No pull harness

(Ideal for moderate pulling dogs or large dogs)

If you have a dog that pulls so hard that they are a pain to walk, a harness that attaches at the front of their chest would be a great choice. Most harnesses that attach in the front also have a clip that attaches to their collar making it harder for them to slip out and become loose. If a no pull harness isn’t enough to keep them from pulling, a head collar, or Gentle Leader® is a better option.

Vest harness

(Ideal for small, elderly, or disabled dogs)

If you have a dog that doesn’t pull, a small dog, or an elderly dog, a harness that attaches on the back may be the better choice. It is important to make sure it is a good fit so it can not be slipped off in a struggle. Similar to sled dogs pulling sleds, having the pressure applied to the chest can actually encourage dogs to pull. Some harnesses that attach on the back have a large handle that can be useful with disabled or elderly dogs that need help getting into the car or need help getting around in general.




Cats should never have a buckle collar. It is possible for the collar to get stuck on a tree branch, fence, or household object leading to injury or death. Instead, use break away collars for identification purposes. Also  microchips in place of or in addition to a break away I.D. collar can provide additional identification.




Written by Lindsey Q