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Is a dog collar, harness, or slip lead better for walking your dog?

As a professional dog walker, my clients often ask me, 'Should I use a collar, harness or slip lead to walk my dog?'.

But as with all things dog-related, my answer is never cut and dry as it will always depend on the dog itself.

It all comes down to your dog’s breed, activity and training levels. Plus, it needs to feel comfortable for your dog and you as their handler.

For example, if you've got an overly active dog who continually pulls on their lead when walking, you may wish to consider a harness to prevent choking, or a slip lead for training. However, if your dog is calm and trots happily beside you, a regular collar and lead would work well.

To help you decide, this handy guide will reveal the top pros and cons of each form of dog walking device.

A quick tip about dog walking

No matter what you choose to use, there are many benefits of taking your dog out for regular walks (daily is best!). If you find your dog is difficult to walk, it may be because they’re not comfortable with the lead, harness or collar you're using.

Sometimes, it can be trial and error (and training) to work out what works best for you and your dog.

Don't give up!

What is a dog slip lead, and how does it work?

A slip lead is designed to easily slip around your dog's neck. Once around their neck, you gently pull on the lead to tighten the loop, so it fits well. The stopper on the lead will prevent the loop from opening (so your dog can't escape you), but you do need to be able to fit 2 fingers between the lead and your dog’s neck.

The pros of slip leads for dogs

  • It's super easy to use as it slides over your dog's neck

  • It makes getting a lead on a difficult dog a lot easier

  • It's a fast and safe way to control a dog quickly (they're often used in shelters or by animal control officers)

  • They work well for dog shows as they're less noticeable and demonstrate the obedience of the dog as the handler has less interference

  • They are great for training your dog how to walk calmly on a lead (e.g. the loop tightens if they pull too much, so they learn to walk with you)

The cons of slip leads for dogs

  • Like a choke chain, if you pull too hard to correct your dog on a walk, they'll associate this with an unpleasant feeling and may start to refuse to wear the slip lead or want to go on walks

  • If they feel a tightening of the lead around their neck when they're doing something fun, like sniffing or greeting a dog or human, they may start to associate this with a negative experience

  • There's a risk of choking or gagging if they continue to pull too hard, which in turn will make them feel anxious about wearing the slip lead

  • These leads may lead to fur wearing out or risk damaging your dog's larynx, thyroid gland, arteries or nerves with prolonged choking pressure in the neck area

Using a regular dog collar for walking

I bet that one of the first things you bought your dog was a cute little collar. Because

of this, your dog will be used to wearing it and all you’ll need to do is attach the lead

and head outside for a walk.

But is this the best option for your dog? Let's explore.

The pros of walking your dog with a collar

  • Your dog is easy to control, which is great when you're training them

  • As your dog is likely to be already wearing a collar, they are convenient to use by simply clipping on a lead

  • Collars have a metal ring where you can attach their ID and your contact numbers (in case they happen to get away from you or escape from your yard)

  • You can choose a cool and fashionable collar to style it up when you step out for your walk

The cons of walking your dog with a collar

  • If your dog is constantly pulling, they can injure their windpipe and restrict their airflow

  • Dogs with heads as big as their necks (e.g. pugs or whippets) can slip out of a collar more easily

  • If your dog has glaucoma, eye, neck or spinal injuries, you should avoid a collar when walking as it may antagonise their injuries

  • Small toy breeds (toy poodles, chihuahuas, etc.) are best not to walk with a collar and lead due to their smaller necks and windpipes

Should you use a dog harness for dog walking?

If you can't use one of the other walking devices, a dog harness may be your best option. They’re highly recommended for small dogs, or dogs with existing spinal, eye or neck conditions. They’re also brilliant if you’ve got an overly excitable dog who’s happiness to be outside makes your walk a lot more full on than it needs to be!

The pros of a dog harness for walking

  • It gives you greater control over an excitable dog

  • It fits safely and securely around your dog's body, so the pressure is dispersed over a larger surface

  • Dogs are less likely to be able to slip out of a harness, and they're less inclined to jump up when wearing a harness

  • Pulling is decreased, which helps alleviate stress on the neck and joints

The cons of a dog harness for walking

  • They take more time to fit onto your dog, which is hard if you've got an excitable dog who's keen to get out for a walk

  • Your dog may find it too bulky and uncomfortable compared to a regular collar (so they can't wear them for extended periods)

  • You usually can't attach an ID tag in case your dog escapes

  • If your dog wears a coat in the cooler months, it may be harder to fit the harness over the top

Do you need a dog walker in the Glen Iris area?

If you don't have the time to take your dog out for their daily walk, I'm here to help

you. Not only can I take your dog out for a walk, but I can help you decide the best

walking device that will suit them.

As an experienced pet sitter and dog walker, I can also help you look after your

beloved animals when you're away from home. You can see all of my services here.

Booking dog walking (or my other services) is easy using my online booking form.

And here are a couple of my other blogs you may be interested in reading:

Until next time, pat your fur babies for me!


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