Dr. Waugh, of Ranchwood Veterinary Hospital, answers our questions about dog collar best practices—and when a harness collar might suit you and your dog’s needs best. The photos are from Ranchwood's Facebook page.
Do you think that the classic “round-the-neck” collar and leash are appropriate for all dogs? Are there ethical issues to consider?
I always recommend all of our patients to have collars on board, especially with identification on there. I have never clinically seen any issues, as long as the collar fits well, basically about 2 fingers’ width between the collar and the neck. As long as it’s about that loose— tight enough where it’s not going to come off over the head, and it’s not too tight where it’s going to be causing issues as far as rubbing on the skin and things like that.
So you don’t think a harness collar, to attach the leash to, would be a good idea or something to consider?
With certain pets it may be preferable; some dogs when you walk them outside tend to have some issues in as far as pulling, so certain harnesses can be more helpful. Especially in some very fearful dogs–it can be more useful putting certain dogs on harnesses, and there’s also potentials for certain dogs with any neck issues, it’s going to be safer to make sure that they don’t have any problems. It depends on the specific pet, per se.
So the harness would be used chiefly for more control over your dog if he or she pulls?
There are certain harnesses you have to be careful with, as there is the potential for certain dogs to back out of them. You have to make sure that the harness is fitted properly and that you have the appropriate harness for the specific problem that you have with your dog.