Dog Collar vs Harness for Hiking: Which is Better for Your Dog?

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Collar or harness for hiking? What to choose?

While hiking can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog, it’s important to ensure their safety and comfort throughout the journey. One of the most important decisions you need to make is whether to equip your pup with a collar or harness. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of both options, so you can choose the best one for your companion.

Dog Collar vs Harness for Hiking

1. Collars

Collars are the most popular dog accessories for walks and other activities.

Collars sit around the dog’s neck, making them easy to wear and adjust. They come in various materials, such as nylon, leather, and chain, with lots of designs, colors, and styles to choose from. There are also special LED dog collars for walking and hiking with a dog when it’s dark outside.

However, is a collar the best choice for hiking? While collars are great for everyday use, they can cause respiratory problems, spinal injuries, and other health issues if used for strenuous activities like hiking. This is because the collar puts pressure on the dog’s neck and throat, leading to breathing difficulties. Your dog can easily get injured if they pull or jerk too hard.

2. Harnesses (Best for Hiking)

Harnesses, on the other hand, are a better alternative for hiking, especially for dogs who pull. They are designed to distribute weight evenly across the dog’s chest and shoulders, pulling pressure away from the neck and throat. This makes it easier for you to manage your dog while hiking, and safer for them too.

Harnesses come in a range of styles, including vest, back-clip, front-clip and dual-clip, each suitable for different breeds and activities. When choosing a harness, it is important to consider your dog’s size, age, and health, as well as the length and intensity of the hike.

3. Dog Harness/Dog Backpack (Most Versatile)

Harnesses that double as backpacks are an excellent gear choice for serious hiking enthusiasts with dogs.

These multipurpose tools not only distribute the pressure evenly across your dog’s body but also provide storage space for items such as water, food, and waste bags. This feature adds practicality, as your dog can carry its essentials while also enjoying the hike. These dog backpack harnesses are designed with the dog’s comfort in mind, offering adjustable straps for a perfect fit and control handles for easy assistance during challenging terrains.

It’s crucial, however, to not overload the backpack and to ensure the load is evenly distributed on both sides to prevent potential back and shoulder strain. Always consider your dog’s size, strength, and endurance before opting for a backpack harness.

Dark brown dog wearing a red Christmas themed collar

Factors to Consider

When choosing between a collar and a harness for your hiking adventures with your dog, consider the following factors:

  1. Length of the hike. Longer hikes generally require more equipment and preparation. A harness, particularly one that doubles as a backpack, can be a more practical option as it not only helps you and your dog on a hike, but it also provides storage for essentials.
  2. Dog’s activity level. Active dogs that love to explore and pull on the leash will benefit from a harness, which reduces the risk of neck strain and offers better control. It’s better for your dog’s health and also easier for you.
  3. Dog’s overall fitness. If your dog has any health issues, such as respiratory problems or a history of injuries, a harness is a safer choice as it puts less pressure on the neck and throat. Conversely, if your dog is in good health, well-behaved, and the collar is mostly for holding tags and identification, a collar may suffice.
  4. Dog’s breed and size. The breed and size of your pet also play a significant role in choosing between a collar and a harness. Some larger breeds, like Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes, are extremely powerful and may tend to pull more, making a harness a better option. Especially, when going on long walks. For short walks a collar may also work just fine.

Remember, the goal is to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort on your hiking adventures. Choosing the right gear can make a significant difference in your dog’s hiking experience.

Read more: How to Train Your Dog to Be a Hiking Companion?

Choose High Quality Dog Gear

You aren’t buying it only for a year or two, right?

Regardless of whether you choose a collar or harness, it’s crucial to ensure the quality of the equipment. Look for sturdy, durable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of outdoor activities. Features like reflective strips for visibility, padding for comfort, and easy-to-use clasps for convenience can make your hiking experience safer and more enjoyable.

And Go for Harness, Most Likely…

When it comes down to choosing between a collar and a harness for your dog’s hiking adventure, the harness emerges as the preferable option. It provides better control, is safer for active dogs or dogs with health issues, and if it doubles as a backpack, it adds practicality to your hike.

However, the ultimate decision should be based on your dog’s individual needs, comfort, and health condition. Taking the time to understand your dog’s behavior, health, and hiking requirements will help you make the most informed decision. Talk with a professional in your city, if you need more help.

Remember, your dog’s comfort and safety should always come first.

Enjoy your hiking adventures together!

Featured photo by Samson Katt

Please note that the information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional advice from a veterinarian or dog trainer. Always consult with a qualified expert before making decisions regarding your dog’s health, well-being, and training.

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