Basic Pet Care

Choosing the Right Gear for Your Pet

Choosing the Right Gear for Your Pet

Pet parents know that it’s not enough to feed and love our pets: At the very least, they need to be microchipped and have a collar and leash. If there is a new pet in your home or you want to upgrade accessories, know the basics.


A dog or cat that wears a collar tells the world that it is not a stray. In addition to identification with a collar tag, a specialized collar may be used for control, training and even fashion.

To choose a collar that will fit property, measure your pet’s neck and add 2.5 to 3 inches to determine the right length. When you put the collar on, allow for 2 fingers to fit between it and your pet’s neck. It shouldn’t be so loose that it can slip off, nor so tight that it impedes breathing. The most commonly available collars are:


The traditional choice, a standard flat collar is made of nylon, cotton or leather. Classic leather collars are long lasting. Ones made of nylon webbing are durable and water resistant. Rolled ones are ideal for longhaired dogs. Flat collars are normally adjustable and include a D ring to attach your pet’s ID and a lead.


There’s little possibility this type of collar will choke a pet if it gets caught on anything; it releases easily. The downside: A dog or cat that gets separated from a breakaway collar is more difficult to identify without scanning for a microchip.


Consisting of two loops, the martingale prevents a dog from backing out of a collar and escaping. When the dog tries to pull, the tension on the leash makes the smaller loop taut. A martingale collar provides control without choking and remains comfortably loose when the dog is unleashed, although experts recommend that it only be worn under supervision.

As a collar add-on, you can buy a GPS Pet tracker. These devices use technology to identify the tracker’s location. App and text alerts can track a pet, but the battery must be regularly charged, monthly charges often apply and the tracker needs to stay on your pet!


Harnesses and Halters can be more effective than collars because they deter a dog from pulling. Also, pets that are small or young have neck or breathing issues and even aggressive ones are best served with a harness instead of a collar. As a safety precaution, remove a pet’s harness when not needed to prevent it being chewed.

Front-clip harness

The leash attaches to a harness clip in the middle of a pet’s chest. This connection provides greater control over pulling and makes it easier to direct a dog and focus the dog's attention.

Back-clip harness

Best for pets that don’t pull, back-clip harnesses offer little control and can’t curtail dragging.

Head halter

A nylon strap that loops around the dog’s muzzle and goes around his neck and behind his ears offers additional control. Although it resembles a muzzle, it is a walking tool. If the dog begins to pull, the head halter makes her nose turn around toward the walker, which makes it difficult for her to keep pulling. A head halter should not be used with a retractable lead.


Getting a pet to walk on a leash without pulling takes training. Specialized leads and leashes offer greater control options to make the task easier.

Standard leash

Comes in a variety of fabrics, widths, and lengths and includes a clasp at the end to connect to a collar or harness. If you have two dogs of equivalent size, attaching a V-shaped coupler with a clasp at each end to a standard leash makes it easier to walk them together because it avoids tangling.

Retractable leash

Features a hard plastic grip that releases a thin cord when pulled. Although retractable leads allow a dog to walk further (12-25 feet) than on a standard leash, it can also be shortened and locked to a distance you choose at the push of a button. Some veterinarians do not recommend these types of leashes for small dogs or short nosed breeds. A retractable leash may send a message to the dog at the end of it that pulling is acceptable. Retractable leashes with a built-in LED light help to light a path during night walks.

Slip lead

Combines a leash and collar. Most commonly used in shelters, at dog shows and in veterinary offices. Not considered secure enough for extended outdoor use.

Whatever collar-and-leash combination you use, consider the benefits of products made with reflective material that help to keep a pet visible during evening walks.