There are a lot of opinions flying around about which is the best method of controlling and training your dog. The dog collar, the dog harness and the halter are just some of the methods debated on. This is not intended to advise against one or the other but to point out a couple of things that should be taken into consideration before deciding.
To begin with, one benefit of the harness over the collar is that it is much harder for a dog to slip out of a harness than it is to slip a collar.
On the subject of walking and training your dog, some people swear by the harness for smaller dogs as they find they have much more control and can even lift the dog off the ground without harming the dogs fragile neck and spine. It should be kept in mind, however, that even though a harness may seem more gentle on a dog as it is not focusing all the stress on the neck, there have been reports of harnesses having a detrimental effect on some dogs, such as widening the chest, bolding the legs, and dislocations on some breeds of dogs, although these reports appear to be in the minority and seem to refer particularly to small dogs that pull.
Larger dogs, particularly those that tend to pull constantly, can be harder to control with a harness than with a collar, and can end up taking the owner for a walk rather than the other way round, according to some large breed dog handlers. For this reason some long time large breed dog owners prefer to stick with the collar, however, there is the opinion that using a collar on a strong and constant puller can have detrimental effects on the dog’s trachea, neck and spine.
Another alternative is the halter harness. This finds favour with some owners of large pulling dogs, as it controls the head and, just as in leading a horse, controlling the head helps greatly in controlling the whole animal.
There are other forms of collars, such as the choker, but I feel that you need to be extremely well informed and careful when using one of these.
Whatever method you choose, your decision should be based on sound advice from professionals who have the welfare of your dog in mind.
One more thing to bear in mind; whatever conclusion you may arrive at regarding the best way to train and walk your dog, it is hard to argue against using a dog harness when taking your dog in a car. You wear a seat belt to stop you flying through the windscreen in the event of a crash. Your dog will also become a living projectile in the same crash. Doesn’t he deserve the same protection you have?
To sum up: Whether you choose the collar or the harness, it is my opinion that thoughtful, gentle, yet thorough training in the early stages of your dogs life will lead to a happy and well-behaved dog that will not need drastic measures to be taken to control him in later life.
I personally use a harness because I don’t think I would like someone to throw a rope around my neck and yank me here and there.