View Full Version : harness or collar?

16th August 2011, 12:15 PM
I would like to hear your opinion. So, I have a 3-month old pup, she just had her 3rd vaccine today and in a week we'll finally start going for walks :D So the question is, is it better to use a harness or a regular collar? My first reaction was to use a harness because it doesn't put any strain on the neck, plus I used it for my first dog. However, a collar might be more useful for training. So, what are your experiences/opinions? Any input is quite welcome :)

16th August 2011, 12:46 PM
Our trainer said that a collar is better for indoor training/tricks and a harness is better for walks. Toby though doesn't do well with a collar, he gets caught up in the leash. He does a lot better with the harness and has no issues with the leash So we keep it on. He has no issues in training sessions.


16th August 2011, 04:31 PM
There are actually a few good reasons never to use a lead on a collar when walking a cavalier or training a cavalier (or any other breed of dog, for that matter).

The reason I would not do this for Cavaliers is that there is such a high incidence of eventual syringomyelia in the breed–at least 70% by the time they are older than 6, according to estimates from a 555 dogs sample. More than one neurologist feels that using a collar just puts pressure on this sensitive area and could potentially risk making syrinxes develop, or make them worse. For dogs that do have the condition, almost always, a collar is extremely uncomfortable (which is why a common early symptom is scratching when on a lead and collar). They suggest a harness is always best.

The reason why I would use a harness anyway, is that every vet I have spoken to says they are preferable for a small breed in particular because they do not put pressure on the trachea and collapsed tracheas are a problem for small breeds.

The reason why you never need to use a collar for training is that it is only necessary if the method of training is the outmoded punishments approach–of jerking the dog around by the collar to “correct” things you don't want the dog to do. Numerous studies have shown that using such methods are at best, counterproductive and can actually cause behavior problems like fear aggression, as well as do physical damage. Cavaliers are a very sweet natured, sensitive breed that are also very food motivated and are so easily trained using positive methods, and are easily made overly fearful by jerking them around on their collars doing “corrections”. I would only look for a class that uses positive methods (e.g., rewards-based methods) in which case it matters not one jot whether a dog is on a collar or harness. I trained all of my dogs on harnesses, including the dogs that do agility, and never had a single issue with having the dog on a harness as opposed to a collar. :)

All my dogs wear collars because they are handy for keeping their tags, but I don't walk them on the collars.

16th August 2011, 04:42 PM
Thank you Becky and Karlin for very useful advice :) My first instinct to use a harness was right after all ;) Many people tell you different things so I wanted to ask you for your opinion, which only confirmed mine :)

16th August 2011, 05:59 PM
I walked my dogs on a harness all the time when they were younger. I still do if I think there is a chance they will pull.

I just want to put in one word about training with only a flat collar. My current trainer challenged me to do this with Rylie. She does not allow any physical or verbal corrections (this includes collar popping or dragging the dog where you want it to be). I would say it made me a better trainer to accept her challenge because you have to have 100% attention on your dog if you are going to train with a loose leash. She would have allowed the halter but doesn't allow corrective collars. I think because I took her challenge and worked on building the focus for me there are very few things distracting enough to Rylie that he will pull on the leash. He isn't perfect though- I did find out the other day that he would like to chase possums if allowed. Max generally needs the harness if we are going to be in squirrel territory as the squirrels suck out most of his brain cells.

I would agree that there aren't enough trainers like mine out there and most who insist on a collar want some type of corrective collar. The first class I took Max to the trainer wanted him in a choke chain or martingdale and to spite her (I'm sure) Max was an absolute brat in his harness - doing things he'd never done before or since like biting on my pant legs.

16th August 2011, 07:51 PM
Harness without a doubt !

My vet told me when Leo was a pup she thought all Cavaliers should be walked/trained on a harness for the reasons Karlin wrote about.

Love my Cavaliers
16th August 2011, 08:39 PM
I use step-in harnesses for all four of my dogs. One has severe SM, one has had cervical disc surgery, and all have documented CM, so I feel it's best just to avoid collars. I use the step-in harnesses from Up-Country (www.upcountryinc.com (http://www.upcountryinc.com)).

Brian M
16th August 2011, 09:03 PM

I know I get shouted at when I say this and I am breaking the law but I dont use collars at all and when on
walks they all have soft fleece step in harness's on with name tags an other tags ie "I am chipped and neutured" on.
I dont like the type of harness were one has to pull it on and off over their heads .:)

16th August 2011, 10:49 PM
I love Up Country's stuff. I would love to buy from them but not sure if they ship internationally, I looked at their site, but it doesn't say if they ship overseas. Their products are really lovely.

16th August 2011, 11:01 PM
I just met someone whose CKCS damaged (the owner said "broke" :() a vertebrae when he suddenly darted after a butterfly while leashed on a collar. Those little doggies can really yank hard when they're excited!

17th August 2011, 01:05 AM
Mine nearly always wear collars for identification because I don't trust the microchips and also a harness if I think there is any chance they will try and pull on the lead. I don't want them yanking their necks but lunging on a harness can cause shoulder injury (although less severe than neck injury) so it's safest to teach the dogs to walk on a loose leash regardless. I only use a harness they can't step out of. I had a bad experience with Mindy stepping out of one brand and walking along by my side. Thank goodness it was Mindy because Max was a puppy at the time and he probably wouldn't have just walked nicely along beside me at that stage of his life.

I do most of my training off leash

17th August 2011, 04:52 PM
Mine nearly always wear collars for identification because I don't trust the microchips and also a harness if I think there is any chance they will try and pull on the lead.

Can't I put her tag on a harness? So she doesn't have to wear both harness and collar?

17th August 2011, 05:45 PM
I'm sure you could. My guys only wear their harnesses when we go out though and I want them wearing their tags all the time.

17th August 2011, 06:27 PM
Alfie has had a harness for walking on the lead from the get go, but wears a collar just for his identity tag ( he is also micro chipped ) He scratches at the harness sometimes and I've checked it's fit and under his 'armpits' for soreness and there is none. I have just ordered a Puppia one so we will see if that helps . :)

17th August 2011, 06:55 PM
All of Toby's tags are on his harness. I know this sounds bad but he has 6 tags.
1. bone shaped tag with name and our phone #
2. AKC tag with AKC number and ID
3. Home Again phone number
4. microchip ID
5. License for our county
6. Trupanion ID
In a few more days there with be a Rabies tag
I know it seems like a lot but if one of the places doesn't answer the phone or the number rubs off there will be others to call.
He doesn't seem to be bothered with it in the slightest. He doesn't tilt one way or the other.