Vol. 6 No. 3 (2020)

The behavioral effects of meeting unfamiliar dogs with a collar or harness

Published 2021-06-21


  • behavior,
  • harness,
  • collar,
  • social behavior


The dog, as a social animal, uses a wide variety of signals of different nature in order to communicate with conspecifics. Several studies have already shown that in intraspecific interactions, dogs elicit threatening behaviors more often when on a leash than when they can interact freely. In light of this, it is still very common to meet other dogs on a leash in urban areas, so it was considered useful to try to understand if among the tools most commonly used by the owners, the collar and the harness, there is one that has a better influence on canine communication than the other.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the level of stress caused by the collar and harness during the interaction between couples of unfamiliar subjects, of different sex and race. The subjects observed were 6 males and 12 females with a mean age of 5.5 years. From the statistical analysis of the individual behaviors observed during the interactions, we found that the stress signals that are highly significant are "licking the nose / lips" (p = 0.046) and "lifting the paw" (p = 0.048). The former is emitted more in harness encounters, while the latter is used more often in interactions where dogs wear the collar. Statistical significance was also noted with regard to the attention request signals (p = 0.02), which are greater when the collar was used.

Considering the results obtained, we believe that neither of the two tools significantly influence communication between dogs, but it would be interesting to evaluate whether it is the management of the leash that interferes with intraspecific behavior.