is it better to run with a dog in a harness or collar 4
is it better to run with a dog in a harness or collar 4

When it comes to enjoying a run with our furry four-legged friends, many of us may find ourselves pondering the age-old question: is it better to run with a dog in a harness or collar? It’s a topic that sparks debate among fellow dog owners and experts alike. While both options have their advantages and considerations, it ultimately comes down to your dog’s specific needs, size, and behavior. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both harnesses and collars to help you make an informed decision that ensures a safe and enjoyable running experience for both you and your loyal companion.

Is It Better To Run With A Dog In A Harness Or Collar?

This image is property of

Benefits of Running with a Dog in a Harness

Increased Control and Safety

When it comes to running with our furry friends, one of the biggest concerns is maintaining control and ensuring their safety. Running with a dog in a harness can greatly enhance our control over their movements and provide a safer running experience. Harnesses are designed to distribute the pulling force evenly across the dog’s body, minimizing the risk of sudden jerks or pulls that could lead to injury. With the added control and stability offered by a harness, we can confidently navigate through various terrains and obstacles while keeping our dog by our side.

Reduced Pulling and Tugging

If you have ever experienced the frustration of a dog eagerly pulling you along during a run, a harness can be a game-changer. The design of a harness helps to discourage pulling behavior and redirect our dog’s attention towards running alongside us. By attaching the leash to the back or chest of the harness, we can gently guide our dog in the desired direction without causing discomfort or strain on their neck. This not only makes our running experience more enjoyable, but it also prevents potential damage to our dog’s throat or neck muscles that could occur while using a collar.

Protection for the Dog’s Neck and Throat

The neck and throat area of a dog is delicate and vulnerable to injuries. This is why using a harness for running is highly recommended. A harness securely wraps around the chest, shoulders, and back of our dog, evenly distributing the pressure when they pull or lunge. By avoiding any pressure on the neck or throat, we significantly reduce the risk of injuries such as tracheal collapse or damage to the cervical spine. Running with a dog in a harness provides peace of mind knowing that we are protecting their vulnerable areas while still enjoying the benefits of exercising together.

Considerations for Running with a Dog in a Harness

Finding the Right Fit

Finding the right fit is crucial when choosing a harness for running with our dog. A properly fitting harness should snugly fit around their body without restricting their movement or causing discomfort. To ensure a good fit, we should measure our dog’s chest girth and consult the manufacturer’s sizing guide. It is important to regularly check and adjust the fit of the harness as our dog grows or if they gain or lose weight. By investing time in finding the proper fit, we can ensure maximum comfort and effectiveness while running.

Choosing the Right Type of Harness

There are various types of harnesses available, each with its own unique features and benefits. When selecting a harness for running, it is important to consider the specific needs of our dog. For dogs prone to pulling, a front-clip harness can be an effective choice as it redirects their forward motion when they try to pull. Back-clip harnesses are suitable for well-trained dogs who no longer exhibit pulling behavior and provide a secure attachment point without restricting movement. No-pull harnesses, featuring a combination of front and back-clip options, can be highly effective for dogs that require extra training or those who have a tendency to lunge or pull suddenly.

Proper Conditioning and Training

Before embarking on a vigorous running routine with our dog, it is essential to ensure they are physically conditioned and adequately trained. Just like humans, dogs need time to build endurance and stamina to prevent injuries. We should gradually increase the duration and intensity of our runs, allowing our dog’s muscles and cardiovascular system to adapt. Additionally, we should focus on teaching them proper leash manners and basic commands. Positive reinforcement training techniques can help us establish a strong bond with our dog, ensuring a safe and enjoyable running experience for both of us.

Benefits of Running with a Dog in a Collar

Ease of Use

Running with a dog in a collar offers the advantages of simplicity and ease of use. Collars are simple to put on and take off, making them convenient for quick runs or walks around the block. They require minimal adjustments and offer a hassle-free solution for those who prefer a more straightforward approach.

Wide Range of Options

Collars come in a wide range of materials, styles, and designs, allowing us to choose the one that best suits our dog’s personality and needs. From durable nylon collars to stylish leather options, there is something for every dog and owner’s preference. Additionally, collars can be customized with ID tags and other accessories, providing a sense of personalization and style while out on a run.

Suitable for Well-Trained Dogs

For dogs that are well-trained and have mastered leash manners, running with a collar can be a viable option. With proper training and conditioning, some dogs are able to run alongside their owner without excessive pulling or lunging, making a collar a suitable choice for these more disciplined companions. However, it is important to note that even well-trained dogs should always be monitored for any signs of discomfort or strain while wearing a collar during intense physical activity.

Considerations for Running with a Dog in a Collar

Risk of Neck and Throat Injuries

Using a collar for running with a dog comes with inherent risks, especially when it comes to their neck and throat. The sudden jerks and pulls that can occur during a run can put immense strain on these delicate areas, potentially leading to injuries such as tracheal damage or neck muscle strains. It is important to be aware of these risks and consider alternative options that offer added protection for our dog’s neck and throat.

Limited Control and Safety

Compared to harnesses, collars offer limited control when it comes to managing our dog’s movements during a run. As they are only attached to the neck, there is a higher chance of them slipping out of the collar or escaping our grasp if they pull or lunge unexpectedly. This lack of control can compromise the safety of both our dog and ourselves, especially in high traffic areas or unfamiliar environments where distractions are abundant.

Potential for Pulling and Choking

Although some well-trained dogs can run alongside their owners without pulling, others may still exhibit pulling behavior. While using a collar, the force exerted by a dog’s pulling can directly impact their throat, leading to coughing, choking, or discomfort. Even for well-behaved dogs, the temptation to chase after a squirrel or another dog may cause momentary lapses in their behavior, resulting in sudden pulls that can be harmful when using a collar.

Is It Better To Run With A Dog In A Harness Or Collar?

This image is property of

Comparing Harnesses and Collars for Running with a Dog

Control and Safety

When it comes to control and safety, harnesses clearly outperform collars. Harnesses offer a more secure attachment point and prevent strain on the dog’s neck and throat. The distribution of force across the body reduces the risk of injuries and provides better control over their movements. On the other hand, collars offer limited control and leave the delicate areas of the neck vulnerable to potential damage. In terms of safety and control, harnesses prove to be the superior choice.

Comfort and Fit

Harnesses generally provide a more comfortable and secure fit for dogs compared to collars. The wide, adjustable straps distribute pressure evenly, ensuring a snug but comfortable fit. Collars, especially those made from stiff materials, can sometimes cause discomfort, irritate the skin, or restrict movement. Choosing a well-fitted harness allows our dog to move freely while providing the necessary support for a comfortable running experience.

Impact on Running Experience

Running with a dog in a harness can greatly enhance the overall running experience for both the owner and the dog. With increased control and reduced pulling, running becomes more enjoyable and less strenuous. The risk of injury is minimized, allowing us to focus on our own stride and pace without worrying about sudden jerks or tugs. On the other hand, running with a collar may lead to distractions and interruptions caused by a dog’s pulling or discomfort. The impact on our running experience can be hindered by the need for constant corrections and potential safety concerns.

Choosing the Right Harness for Running

Front-Clip Harnesses

Front-clip harnesses are designed with the leash attachment point on the front of the dog’s chest. This configuration helps to deter pulling behavior by redirecting their forward motion towards the side. Front-clip harnesses are ideal for dogs that need additional control or are still in the training process. However, they may not be ideal for strong pullers, as the front attachment may not provide enough leverage to effectively manage their pulling.

Back-Clip Harnesses

Back-clip harnesses have the leash attachment point on the back of the dog, between the shoulder blades. These harnesses offer a secure attachment point and allow for comfortable movement. Back-clip harnesses are suitable for well-trained dogs that no longer exhibit pulling behavior. They provide ease of use and stability during runs while allowing dogs to move freely.

No-Pull Harnesses

No-pull harnesses combine the features of front and back-clip harnesses to provide maximum control and effective management of pulling behavior. These harnesses often have both front and back attachment points, allowing us to choose the most suitable option for our dog’s behavior. No-pull harnesses are great for dogs that require additional training or have a tendency to lunge or pull suddenly. The dual attachment points help to redirect their attention and discourage pulling, making the running experience more enjoyable and controlled.

Is It Better To Run With A Dog In A Harness Or Collar?

This image is property of

Choosing the Right Collar for Running

Flat Collars

Flat collars are the most commonly used type of dog collar. They are simple, lightweight, and easy to put on and take off. When choosing a flat collar for running, opt for one made from a comfortable and durable material like nylon. It is important to ensure a proper fit, with enough room for two fingers to be inserted between the collar and the dog’s neck. With proper training and leash manners, a flat collar can be a suitable choice for running with a well-trained dog.

Martingale Collars

Martingale collars are designed to prevent dogs from slipping out of their collars while providing a humane form of correction. These collars feature an additional loop that tightens when the dog pulls, preventing them from slipping their head through the collar. Martingale collars are widely used for dogs with narrow heads or breeds that are prone to slipping out of traditional flat collars. However, it is important to ensure the correct fit and avoid over-tightening, especially during high-intensity activities like running.

Prong Collars

Prong collars, also known as pinch collars, are controversial and should be used with caution. They consist of metal prongs that apply pressure to the dog’s neck when pulled, mimicking the correctional bite of a mother dog. Prong collars are sometimes seen as an option for dogs that are difficult to control during runs, but their use should only be considered under the guidance of a professional dog trainer. It is crucial to use prong collars responsibly and ensure proper fitting and training to prevent any harm or discomfort to the dog.

Training and Conditioning for Running with a Dog

Building Endurance Gradually

Just like humans, dogs need to build endurance gradually to avoid injuries and improve their cardiovascular capacity. Start with shorter runs or brisk walks and gradually increase the distance and intensity over a period of weeks or even months. It is important to closely monitor our dog’s behavior and physical condition during and after the runs, adjusting the routine as needed. By gradually building endurance, we can ensure our dog’s safety and prevent overexertion or exhaustion.

Practicing Commands and Leash Skills

Before hitting the pavement for a run, it is essential to establish a solid foundation of leash manners and basic commands. Our dog should be proficient in commands such as “heel,” “leave it,” and “stay” to ensure their safety and our control during the run. Regular training sessions focused on reinforcing these commands will help maintain discipline and prevent potential hazards or distractions. Consistent practice and positive reinforcement make running with our dog a pleasurable experience for everyone involved.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training techniques can be incredibly effective in shaping desired behaviors and creating a strong bond between us and our dog. Rewarding them with treats, praise, or play for exhibiting good behavior during our runs helps to reinforce desired behaviors and encourages them to repeat them. By using positive reinforcement, we can motivate our dog to stay focused, run alongside us, and respond to commands, ultimately creating a positive running experience for both parties.

Is It Better To Run With A Dog In A Harness Or Collar?

This image is property of

When to Consult a Professional

While we can generally enjoy running with our dog without any complications, there are certain situations where it is beneficial to seek professional assistance.

Behavioral Issues

If our dog exhibits significant behavior issues during runs, such as excessive pulling, aggression, or uncontrollable excitement, consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviorist is recommended. They can assess the underlying causes of the behavior and provide guidance on how to modify it effectively. Professional assistance ensures the safety of both the dog and the owner during their running sessions.

Health Concerns

Before engaging in a vigorous running routine, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. Certain health conditions and breed-specific limitations may affect our dog’s ability to run long distances or at a fast pace. A veterinarian can assess our dog’s overall health and advise on a suitable exercise plan to prevent any exacerbation of existing conditions or potential injuries.

Special Needs Dogs

Special needs dogs, including those with physical disabilities or medical conditions, may require additional care and attention when it comes to running. Consulting with a veterinarian or a specialized dog trainer who works with special needs dogs is highly recommended. They can provide guidance on suitable equipment, exercise modifications, and appropriate training techniques to ensure a safe and enjoyable running routine for our special companion.


Whether to run with a dog in a harness or collar ultimately depends on the specific needs of our dog and our personal preferences. However, harnesses offer increased control, safety, and protection for our dog’s neck and throat, making them a superior choice for most running situations. When selecting a harness, considering factors such as fit, type of harness, and proper training are of utmost importance. In some cases, well-trained dogs may be able to run comfortably with a collar, but it is crucial to be aware of their limitations and the potential risks to their neck and throat. The key to a successful running experience with our dog lies in proper conditioning, training, and choosing the right equipment that prioritizes their safety and well-being. So, grab a harness or collar, lace up your running shoes, and enjoy the many benefits of running together with your beloved canine companion!

Is It Better To Run With A Dog In A Harness Or Collar?

This image is property of

Previous articleShould I Use A Harness Or Collar When Walking My Dog?
Next articleWhat Are The Different Types Of Bark Collars?
Matt Emrick
Hi, I'm Matt Emrick, and I'm passionate about everything related to dog training and collars. As an experienced dog trainer, I've dedicated my career to helping dog owners establish a strong bond with their furry companions. With years of hands-on experience and a deep understanding of canine behavior, I offer valuable tips and insights on making the most out of dog collars on my website, My goal is to empower dog owners with practical advice and techniques, ensuring a safe and effective training experience for both dogs and their humans. Having worked with various breeds and temperaments, I know that every dog is unique and requires tailored training approaches. Through my website, I share my extensive knowledge on choosing the right collar, using positive reinforcement techniques, and addressing specific behavioral challenges. I believe that patience, consistency, and clear communication are essential for a successful training journey. Beyond my professional expertise, I have a genuine love for dogs. They bring joy, companionship, and unconditional love into our lives, and I strive to help dog owners create a harmonious relationship with their four-legged friends. Whether you're a seasoned dog owner or a new puppy parent, my aim is to provide informative and practical guidance that enriches the bond between you and your pup. So, join me on this exciting journey of discovering effective dog collar tips on Let's make training a positive and rewarding experience for both you and your furry companion. Remember, training is not just about teaching your dog; it's about building a lifelong connection based on trust and mutual understanding.