Much the same as dog crates, you want to look for dog collars that are durable. You want collars that will last your pup for years to come. Whether you need a collar, harness, or both, if you plan on keeping your pup for the duration of his life, buying a durable dog collar or harness is well worth the initial investment.
Leather vs Nylon
Nylon collars and harnesses may be a good start when your pup is very young, as he will grow quickly and some of these grow at least a little bit with your pup. But nylon, no matter how soft, can rub the hair and skin on a pup–especially that almost cotton-like fur on a little guy. So I suggest you do not leave these on full time.
When your little friend is ready to begin training, such as walking on a leash, basic obedience, it is a better idea to invest in a durable leather collar. Leather is pliable, yet strong. The more your dog has it on, his natural oils actually soften the leather. As long as you clean them periodically with the appropriate stuff (I use bag balm or saddle soap), leather collars and leashes will even outlast your dog! The collar in the photo (below) I bought from Leerburg 16 years ago and has lasted 3 dogs!
Similarly, leather leashes are more durable and easier on your hands. And, hey, the leash has to match the collar, right? The 6-foot leather leash is a great all-around, for training, simple walks and everything you may need to do with your pooch. I do keep nylon leashes on hand, though. Usually for use as a “drag leash”, which I will explain in a later post. For daily use and training, however–as long as you do not, as it pains me to see some folks do, let your pup chew on it–leather leashes are the way to go!
Lots of folks nowadays seem to lean toward harnesses for everyday use. Though I am not a huge fan, harnesses do have their place and, when used properly, can be successful training tools. Please note, however, I am *not* talking about those head harnesses. With all due respect, that is one of the silliest ideas I have seen in my many years with dogs. That’s all I say there, for now.
Young puppies do well on harnesses because they are untrained as of yet and the more important issue at that stage is simply keeping them near, and getting them accustomed to being tethered to you. Harnessing puppies also keeps their neck soft–meaning, they do not get the opportunity to pull hard, repeatedly and thus end up a bit desensitized in that area. Later on, if you chose to continue with a harness, I still advocate leather. Again, they’re most durable, last longer and are most comfortable for your dog’s skin. I mean, c’mon. Skin on skin, or nylon on skin. Which would you rather wear?
Some harnesses are built for specific purposes, usually for working or sporting dogs. You can stroll through the list of various styles once you have a plan to train your pup for her new job. Pictured below is typically known as an “agitation harness.” More often trainers use this type for dogs in protection or police work. They work fabulous in search training as well. The harness Hanani is sporting in the photo was also bought from Leerburg in 2002. You can see for yourself that with proper care, these truly are well worth the investment!
In this day and age where we can take our four-leggers pretty much everywhere, there are more opportunities to have fun with your pup! When Jamie and I first brought Hanani home from the airport, we stopped by a pet shop to grab some necessities. To take her in the store with us was a big help, sizing her for a harness, and made our first jaunt together memorable 🙂
Free Dog Tips
Key #1: Leather is always better! More durable, last longer and most comfortable for your pooch.
Key #2: Never let your pup chew on the leash or collar. Creating bad habits is not the way to raising a good dog!
Key #3: Consider all tools for your pup as an investment. You want to get the most for your buck!
Key #4: Always have fun with your pup!