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Every dog needs outfitting options

Updated on August 11, 2016
Tuffy's styling in Pink Polka Dots.
Tuffy's styling in Pink Polka Dots. | Source

Fun, functional, and fur-saving dog collars

We're not talking about dogs in dresses. Although if the owner enjoys it and the dog doesn't mind - who are we do judge? Some dresses - like the one Tuffy is modeling at the right, also function as harnesses.

The dog basics, collars and harnesses, come in a variety of materials. Options for size, width, style, and fit are many. Most dogs should have at least two alternatives for daily use. The ideal dog wardrobe also includes weather-appropriate options.

The benefits from switching include:

  • relieving pressure on a single point of the dog's anatomy
  • alleviating rubbing friction to save fur and skin
  • teaching the dog to be comfortable with change,
  • avoid triggering sensitivities from a particular material.

Same dog - all kinds of style and fit

Booker (Boston Terrier) in different harness and collar styles.
Booker (Boston Terrier) in different harness and collar styles.

Harnesses can help if your dog is "fur challenged"

It can happen even with the most careful and observant dog owner - one day you notice your pup is bald in spots! This happens most often at the throat for dogs with collars. The balding can occur at the "armpit" of dogs who wear harnesses.

Constant rubbing in the same spot wears away the dog's fur. Sometimes trouble isn't noticed until the bald spot is bothering the dog. You'll notice him scratching or trying to bite at himself. You can stop the problem before it starts by switching collars or harnesses.

Some people choose to have a collar on their dogs at all times, if only as a vehicle for I.D. tags. We understand the concern. But realize that the tags are another source of friction and can bother the dogs and damage fur.

You can prevent the problem by having collars of different materials, widths, or styles. Then the same spot isn't rubbed constantly. Also - have a single, custom I.D. tag with all the dog's vital information on one tag.

Our shop, Golly Gear, carries dozens of different styles of harnesses. There's no such thing as the perfect dog harness, but there is a perfect harness for every dog. If you've had a hard time finding your dog's ideal harness, fill out our "Harness Picker Questionnaire" and get our personalized recommendations just for your dog.

Different harness ages and stages

Teddy (French Bulldog) has a wardrobe that's changed over the years.
Teddy (French Bulldog) has a wardrobe that's changed over the years.

Dogs know their "dress up" clothes

As a dog trainer and competitor, I know dogs' reactions change based on what they're wearing.

Obedience and Rally dogs must wear one of two collars in the ring - either a plain buckle collar or choke chain. The dogs know what they're going to do based on what they're wearing. The collars mustn't have anything hanging. Most competitors have a special collar just for obedience trials.

Agility dogs wear either a flat collar (no tags) or nothing while they're competing. Many agility dogs wear harnesses as they go into the ring, so easy-on and easy-off is a priority.

When we're going for a walk around the neighborhood it's a different set of "clothes." And another if we're going for a ride to the vet or the office.

Dogs love routine. Having a dress code for each activity does make a difference to your dog. And you can judge your dog's level of interest by the reaction you get when you reach for each "outfit."

Does your dog dress for the occasion?

How many "outfits" are in your dog's collar/harness wardrobe?

See results
This black and white dog (Booker) rolled in the gray dirt. His collar (already removed) and he both needed a good wash.
This black and white dog (Booker) rolled in the gray dirt. His collar (already removed) and he both needed a good wash.

The other one's in the wash

Dogs may not sweat - but their stuff does get grungy! They roll in disgusting-smelling stuff before we can grab them. Their chewy toys get gross and goo all over. They're also not the tidiest eaters in the world. Ever noticed spots on the wall and wondered how a foot-tall dog could manage to spray crumbs four feet high?

It's always good to have a back-up harness and/or collar. One could be in the laundry. If you have more than one dog, you've probably broken up a tug-of-war with a leash or collar. Or you've had a single dog chew up a harness your spouse/child/baby sitter left lying around.

If a particular style of harness or collar fits just right, or serves a particular need - buy at least two. Like all fashion industries, harness makers change their lines at least every few years. If your luck is like mine, your favorite product is the one that will be discontinued.

Which collar or harness is right for your dog?

Collar - buckle
adjusts to fit, comes in a wide range of colors, fabrics, and patterns
Pinch buckle can be hard to use
Collar - choke
slip-on style
Can cause damage - not recommended
Collar - martingale
wider profile is good for long-necked, narrow-headed dogs
Can choke if too tight
Harness - step-in
adjusts to fit, doesn't cause choking
If too loose, dogs may slip out
Harness - standard
easy to use, no stress or pressure on the dog's neck
Houdini dogs can back out
Harness - vest style
comfortable, soft style
can be too much coverage
Harness - hook and loop
secure and comfortable
some dogs fear sound of hook-and-loop

Choose the right fit for your dog

When choosing a harness, the most important measurement is your dog's girth, or chest. Measure all the way around the dog, right behind the front legs. For more information about proper sizing and choosing the right harness for your dog, we have an illustrated guide.

There is no standardization of sizes in the pet industry - each product has its own size chart, so an accurate measurement is important.


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    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 

      2 years ago from California

      Loved your article. It was great. Thanks for the share


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