Aside from the drooling kisses and joyful breakdowns upon entering the door, life with a dog comes with a slightly less heartbreaking everyday reality: walks. And with walks, the necessary supplies come: a collar, a harness and a leash (poop bags too, but that’s an issue for another day). So how do you know which of the many options is actually the best choice for your dog?
Dogs come in such a variety of shapes and sizes that finding the products that will suit your pooch is extremely important. No matter how well a collar, harness or leash is made or elegantly designed, it will not do its job if it fits poorly. Measure your dog with a soft tape measure and carefully review the size charts. Also, keep in mind that the size may vary depending on the brand. You can’t expect your dog to be exactly the same size across the board.
Read on for more veterinary guides and tips on how to choose the best collar, harness, and leash possible for your precious pup. Do you want more ideas? Check out our other veterinarian approved dogs here.
“When choosing a collar, make sure that it isn’t too tight to suffocate your dog or too loose that it can slip out. You should be able to slide two fingers under it, ”says Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian at Animal Acupuncture in New York City.
And if your dog wears both a collar and a harness, here’s a tip: “You can attach your dog’s collar to the harness with a separate clip or carabiner in case it slips out of either of the two,” says Dr. Pamela Reid, vice president of the ASPCA Behavioral Sciences team.
Tellpet Quick Release Collar (starts at $ 9.98; amazon.com)
Tellpet quick release collar
“A quick release buckle lets you quickly remove it if it gets stuck on something,” says Zay Satchu, a veterinarian at Bond Vet in New York City.
In a world full of nylon collars, this handcrafted number made of soft leather will stand out in the dog park. It is also available in red.
PetSafe Martingale Dog Collar (starts at $ 10.49; amazon.com)
PetSafe Martingale dog collar
“One recommendation I give to friends with dogs who like to pull off their collars is martingale styles,” says Satchu. “These collars are designed to be tightened just enough when jerked to prevent retraction without restricting the airways.”
This affordable collar has a quick release buckle so you can put it on and take it off instantly. It is available in five other colors.
PetSafe KeepSafe Breakaway Collar ($ 12.95; Petemart.com)
PetSafe KeepSafe tear-out collar
“If you have a backyard where your pet is often unattended, or if you just have a wild dog, it may be helpful to consider a breakaway collar,” says Satchu. “If your dog gets stuck on something when you are not around, it reduces the risk of strangulation.”
This premium breakaway collar with chic gold hardware has received top marks from reviewers. One even says it ended one of their dogs’ bad habits of pulling on the other’s collar.
Ruffwear Crag Dog Collar ($ 19.95; amazon.com)
Ruffwear Crag dog collar
“When it’s time for a walk, I recommend a non-breakable collar like the one from Ruffwear,” says Satchu. “These take a long time and are cute too!” It also features reflective webbing so you both stay visible at night. It’s colorfast too, so all those walks in the rain (hey, if you have to go, you have to go) don’t fade the fun design.
GoTags Reflective Embroidered Dog Collar ($ 19.45; amazon.com)
Reflective embroidered dog collar from GoTags
“This customizable, reflective collar is one of my favorites,” said Chris Menges, Austin, Texas veterinarian who specializes in digital pet care. It is available in three adjustable sizes and has a stainless steel D-ring that will not corrode.
PetSafe Gentle Leader Head Collar (starts at $ 15.69; target.com)
PetSafe Gentle Leader head collar
If you’re trying to train your dog on a leash – or if he just pulls a lot no matter what – a Gentle Leader head collar can be a good idea, says Satchu.
“It controls the head itself, the main direction point of the dog. A loop around the snout allows the pet to gasp. You will get a quicker response when you train a dog with these collars, as opposed to the traditional ones. “Make sure your dog gets used to wearing one before you go for a walk, says Reid.
Coastal New Earth Collar (starts at $ 10.26; petco.com)
Coastal New Earth Collar
Made from sustainable, natural soy fiber, this eco-friendly dog collar is a favorite of Albert Ahn, Veterinarian at Myos Pet in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey. He notes that it’s a high quality, good looking option for a reasonable price.
GoTags Pet ID (starting at $ 8.13; amazon.com)
GoTags Pet ID
Even if your dog is microchipped, make sure they have a label with your contact information and rabies vaccination information on them to make getting it back to you as easy as possible, demands Barrack.
This feather-light aluminum label can be individually adjusted at the front and back and is available in eight eye-catching designs.
First a word of caution. “I never recommend retractable lines. You can quickly create dangerous situations where a dog can be too far away from you and get into dog fights or traffic, ”warns Menges. “If it snaps, the leash can retract quickly and injure a person.”
Whichever leash you choose, “Make sure it’s securely attached to your dog’s collar or harness,” says Barrack.
TaoTronics Leash ($ 16.99; amazon.com)
“I like hands-free leashes like this,” says Menges. “Not only does this leash clip around your waist to prevent you from holding your dog down, but it also has two bungee cords to protect you if your dog pulls too hard.” In addition, reflective material is woven in to make you visible in the dark.
Cymiler Short Dog Leash ($ 14.95; amazon.com)
Cymiler Short Dog Leash
“If your dog is not friends with other dogs or people, I recommend always keeping them on a short, controlled leash,” advises Satchu. Even if your dog is behaving well, you will likely want to switch to a shorter leash than the one you use for walking when in crowded places like the vet’s office, Reid adds.
This short, rope-style leash is comfortable to grip and comes in six colors and three lengths. So you can choose the one that works best for your dog’s size.
Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Dog Leash ($ 11.99; amazon.com)
Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic dog leash
This 5-foot leash comes in 20 amazing colors, but Ahn doesn’t just show that it’s pretty. He calls it a “strong, inexpensive product with a proven track record”.
Lederberg Leather Dog Leash ($ 25.99; amazon.com)
Lederberg leather dog leash
Some dog parents prefer leather leashes. They’re lighter on your hands and give a little so they absorb some of your dog’s pull. For them, Ahn refers to this hard-wearing leash made of 100% full-grain Latigo leather with strong metal rivets. He particularly likes the “robust double stitch construction”. At 6 feet in length, it’s ideal for medium and large canines.
“Harnesses more evenly distribute pressure on a dog, making them safer for breeds that are prone to neck or back pain, such as corgis, dachshunds, and basset hounds,” explains Satchu. “We also need to take care to reduce head and neck pressure in dogs with large eyes, including Shih Tzus and Pugs, so harnesses are a safer choice for them too.”
Barrack agrees that attaching the leash to a harness can be more convenient for many dogs than attaching it to a collar. However, it is recommended that you make sure that “it is not too tight to narrow or chafe, but not so loose that it can slip out”. Be sure to check the fit around the armpits, as this is where chafing is particularly common.
2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Sling (starts at $ 29.58; amazon.com)
2 Hounds Design Freedom no-pull harness
When you’re working on training your dog on a leash, a front clip harness is more effective at correcting pulls than a regular harness, says Satchu.
This no-pull belt is available in seven different sizes and with two adjustment points and makes it easy to adjust. It’s available in 18 other colors and is lined with velvet to avoid uncomfortable rubbing.
Kurgo Baxter Backpack Harness (starts at $ 52.19; amazon.com)
Kurgo Baxter backpack harness
“Straps designed with packs are very useful for carrying a bowl of water or goodies for long trips,” notes Satchu.
If you and your dog enjoy hiking or just spending leisurely afternoons at the dog park, this workhorse of a harness is a smart buy. It is designed in such a way that it can easily hold food, water, first aid items and poop bags. However, it is very light and convenient for your dog.
Zeus Da Bear Harness (starting at $ 20.99; amazon.com)
Zeus Da bear harness
Menges calls this tableware “wonderful”. It’s comfortably padded and has mesh panels to keep your dog cool all summer long. It also has an unusual smart feature: a soft grip in case you need to quickly take control of your dog.
Puppia Soft Harness for Small Dogs (from USD 10.50; amazon.com)
Puppia Soft Harness for small dogs
“One disadvantage of harnesses is that many of them are a little too much weight for our little boys,” says Menges. “For them, we want a belt that is of high quality and yet light. This fits very well with our toy breeds and has adjustable buckling straps that offer good safety even to the smallest puppies. ”
Canada Pooch Everything Harness ($ 36.99; amazon.com)
Canada doggie all dishes
Smushy-faced dogs like pugs, French bulldogs, and Boston terriers need harnesses in particular, Menges says. “Because of the way their airways form, breeds with a short nose and flat face are prone to damage from a collar,” he says. They are also notorious for being nimble enough to slip out of them again, he adds. “This belt is extremely soft and can be safely adjusted to avoid neck pressure and escapes of any kind,” says Menges.
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