Collar vs Harness For A Puppy (Which Is Best)?

Training your puppy can be both complicated and challenging. Having the proper equipment, such as a collar, and a harness can make the job much easier. Right now, you may be wondering to yourself, ‘which is better for puppy training – a collar or a harness?’

Collar vs harness for a puppy, which is best for training? Most veterinarians recommend using a harness instead of a collar for training purposes with a puppy. Harnesses make it easier to control your puppy and reduce the risk of injury to both you and your pup. Harnesses are also ideal for adult dogs who haven’t learned how to walk with a lead yet. 

Now that you know a harness is better than a collar for training your puppy, let’s take a closer look at why this is in more detail. We’ll explain the importance of each device and the role it plays in effectively training your puppy. We’ll also discuss the ideal age to start training your pup as well as which harness and collar are best.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about puppy training using a collar and/or harness, then let’s get started!

Is a Collar or Harness Better for Puppy Training?

In most cases, using a harness instead of a collar is better for training purposes.

Harnesses make it easier to control and/or manage your puppy. They reduce the risk of injury to (and eliminate stress on) both you and your pet. They are also ideal for dogs who haven’t learned how to walk using a lead.

Different types of harnesses

There are different types of harnesses, including the back-clip, front-clip and dual-clip.

  • The back-clip type is the most common, easy to use and safe for puppies. It attaches at the rear of the harness which reduces the risk of throat injuries.
  • The front-clip style provides better control over your pet and limits pulling, without causing discomfort or pain for your puppy. The front clip is located under the dog’s chin, in front of the chest.
  • The dual-clip variety combines the easy of the back-clip with the control of the front-clip. The only downside is that it is often more expensive than the other options.

Collars should be used with harnesses, if possible, as they provide a way to keep licenses and other identification information on your dog. This is vital. If your dog slips out of the harness and gets lost you are covered!

Different types of collars

Different collars serve different purposes. Rolled or flat collars, for example, are the most common but can be dangerous if your puppy gets their mouth caught in it.

Martingale collars, on the other hand, are similar to flat types, but less likely to slip off your puppy’s head, if adjusted properly.

Choke chains or pinch collars are designed to correct bad behavior when training your puppy. Choke chains provide a sharp ‘jerk’ motion whereas pinch collars contain metal spikes that dig into or ‘pinch’ the neck. Both these collars teach a dog to associate misbehavior with strong correction. However, if used incorrectly, they can seriously harm your pet. Therefore, these devices should only be used by trained professionals.

What do veterinarians recommend?

In short, puppy training should be based on rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. Choosing a harness over a collar is recommended, especially if you decide to train your pet yourself. 

Most veterinarians advocate harnesses over collars, just be sure to choose the right one based on your pet’s size. Measure around the puppy’s ribcage and then purchase a harness that fits snuggly, but not too tight that it ‘cuts in’ and is painful to wear.

What is the Best Collar for Training a Puppy?

The best collar for puppy training should:

  1. Be adjustable
  2. Made with durable materials and
  3. Distribute pressure evenly around the neck.

All these criteria are met by the PetSafe Gentle Leader No-Pull Collar. It’s a Choice Pick on This collar in sizes petite (under 5 pounds) through extra-large (over 130 pounds). It’s available in different colors. it can also be easily attached to any leash.

The PetSafe Gentle Leader No-Pull Collar is a best seller amongst dog owners and trainers worldwide. Over 9,000 customers have left reviews for this collar. Check out the latest price by clicking here.

What is the Best Harness for Training a Puppy?

The best harness for training your pet is the no-pull type with extra padding and easy adjustability, such as the Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness. It’s another best seller on and comes in different sizes, ranging from extra-small to extra-large. You can also get it in a variety of cool colors, to suit your dog’s unique personality! 

This harness is lightweight, adjustable and designed for extended wear. It’s padded for your dog’s comfort and has reflective trim so it can be easily seen during the day and at night. The Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness has close to 3,000 reviews. You can view the latest price by clicking here.

What Size Collar Should I Get My Puppy?

The general rule of thumb for choosing the right size collar for your pet is as follows:

  • Small breed dog – you should be able to fit your pointer finger between the collar and your dog’s neck. 
  • Medium breed dog – you should be able to fit your pointer and middle finger between the collar and your dog’s neck.
  • Large breed dog – you should be able to fit your pointer, middle and ring finger between the collar and your dog’s neck.

Making sure your pet is comfortable and safe is of the utmost importance.

Don’t base your decision on cool colors or flashy designs.

Proper sizing is the key. If the collar is too big, it may fall off and if it’s too small, it could be painful for your pet.

How to Choose the Best Collar for Your Puppy?

The most important things to consider when choosing a collar for your pet include the following.

The breed of your dog

This first step in deciding which collar is right for your pet is to keep in mind what breed of dog it is.

Some collar manufacturers make it real easy: they list the suggested breed types right on the label! It’s important to note that this is just a guideline.

The size of your dog’s neck

The next step in choosing the correct collar is to measure your pet. Simply take a cloth measuring tape and wrap it gently around the circumference of your puppy’s upper neck. Check out the video at 45 seconds in.

Then take that measurement and look for measurements that match the different dog labels. It’s best to choose an adjustable collar that can be tightened or loosened as necessary.

How much fur your dog has

The final step in determining the right collar for your pet is to consider how much fur it has. Measuring the neck alone isn’t enough. You must keep in mind fur length and density. The best way to do this is to measure your dog’s neck before and after being groomed and then compare the differences. Remember to add an extra inch or two to the post-grooming number and base your final decision on that.

What Age Can You Put a Harness on a Puppy?

Puppies can wear a harness right from the get-go! As most people get their pets around 8 weeks of age, you can start teaching them immediately. It’s recommended, however, to give your puppy a chance to adjust to its new home for a few days before you begin training. Training can be stressful on both you and your pet so getting accustomed to one another beforehand should make the process easier.

Some veterinarians recommend you don’t start training your puppy until after it receives its last vaccination booster shot, which is administered around 14 to 16 weeks of age. This helps prevent your pet from getting sick as a result of exposure to airborne or outdoor diseases including ‘canine flu’ and parvovirus.

Are Harnesses Bad for Puppies?

Harnesses aren’t bad for puppies, in fact, they’re one of the best ways to train your pet. They prevent dogs from getting tangled-up in their leash, which could possibly result in injury. They also keep active, excited puppies from pulling or tugging on the leash, which could cause coking and, in severe cases, neck trauma.

How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness


In summation, both a collar and a harness should be used to effectively train your pet. The harness, however, should only be used for walking. It’s the safest way to keep your dog securely attached to you while reducing possible injury to its necks. Most veterinarians advocate the use of harnesses over collars, so if you have to choose one over the other, then go for the harness.

Good luck!

Mad About Puppies

If you have a puppy, here are some other articles that you may be interested in reading:


Michelle loves enjoying the outdoors with her dogs. She grew in a big house near the beach with German Shepherds. Nowadays, Michelle has down-sized her dogs to poodles, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Her dogs enjoy playing fetch, swimming, and long walks. Michelle and her dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp, and swim.

Recent Posts