The world of dog harnesses can be a little confusing. There are so many different kinds, and they all serve different purposes. If you’re confused about which one to get for your pup, don’t worry! We have the ultimate dog harness guide for you.
This blog post will cover everything from what a harness is and why it's important to choose the right kind, how to measure your dog correctly, our favorite types of harnesses out there (and why), and some tips on picking up after walks when wearing a harness. Let's get started!
Harnesses vs. Collars
Collars are very effective at training dogs not to pull on their leashes, but they still aren't an ideal way of doing so. Collars can also cause chafing and irritation if the dog is wearing a tight collar for long periods of time. Some dogs may find collars uncomfortable as well.
A harness will fix both these problems. Harnesses do still allow dogs to feel comfortable when walking because they have padding in them, and many different types have reflective strips that help keep your dog safe at night if you plan on going out during dark hours (or just like the look).
Dog Harness Benefits:
Can discourage pulling from most dogs
Is safer than using a collar or leash alone. Collars can cause chafing and irritation. Harnesses prevent this from happening.
Harnesses support the weight of your dog better than collars do, so it's safer for them to wear them for long periods of time.
Harnesses allow you to train your dog not to pull on her leash far more effectively than a collar does. In fact, nearly all trainers recommend harnesses over collars because they're much kinder to the animal while still doing their job equally well.
One problem with harnesses is they sometimes slip off or break (though this isn't very common). Make sure you pick up high-quality options that are designed by companies that have been around for years to reduce your odds of experiencing problems like this.
Types of Dog Harnesses
There are three different types of dog harnesses. They differ in where they clip on the harness and each have their pros and cons.
Back Clip Harness
Back clip harnesses are typically for calm dogs trained not to pull on the leash. This type of harness usually does little to discourage pulling
You will find these harnesses are easier to use as front clip harnesses require more training with your dog because they take advantage of the natural pulling motion, which can frustrate dogs and cause them to resist.
If your dog is "easy" and doesn't pull, this harness will be perfect. Our Annie had one because she was so easy to walk.
Front Clip Harness
Front clip harnesses are for dogs that like to pull. These harnesses encourage the dog to walk next to you rather than pulling. A front clip harness clips onto the front legs and chest area.
The downside is that it can take some training for your dog to get used to this harness as they learn that pulling doesn't work and correct themselves. Chief took some time getting used to his front clip harness, but he eventually got there!
Dual Clip Harness
Dual clip dog harnesses get the best of both worlds. Put on a front clip harness and they will walk right next to you. If your dog is pulling, just switch the clips around - easy as that!
One of our favorite dual clip harnesses is this one from Easy Walk . The leash attaches at two points (one in the front and one in the back) so if your dog pulls, there isn't any pressure on their neck. It has also been noted that it helps prevent pull related injuries like trachea damage , which is always great.
While dual clips are usually the best option, they do tend to be more expensive for a quality harness.
Dog Harness Styles
No matter what type of harness you get, it's important to make sure that its a comfortable and secure fit for both your dog and you. Here are some of the most popular styles on the market:
A vest harness fits on your dog's torso and goes over their shoulders/arms. This is a great option for small dogs that are more likely to slip out of other options. They're also good if you have a puppy because they can grow into them. And again, these tend to be cheaper than different styles.
But there are some cons as well: Vest harnesses aren't ideal for active dogs because the fit isn't always comfortable or secure enough for running or pulling , which means it could come loose when you least expect it and cause injury . If your dog is an escape artist and likes to slip out of collars, this might not be the best option either since there's no collar to keep them in place.
Step In Harness
Step in harnesses, also known as over-the-head harnesses or step-over harnesses , are probably the easiest to get on and off your dog. They work by connecting around the shoulders (rather than underneath like with a collar) and then connect to their belly area . That makes it easy to slip them on quickly before you start walking, but they can be more awkward to take off when you get home.
Some varieties even have extra safety features such as reflective stitching or a leash attachment loop right at the throat, so make sure to look for one of those if you're concerned about your dog's safety.
They offer great control over dogs because once they're on, there's no way they can back out of them. Usually, they're preferable to a collar if you have a dog that likes to pull on the leash.
Padded Chest Harness
These are great for smaller dogs or older pups. It goes on like a normal harness, but it has extra padding over the chest and belly area to help distribute any pressure from pulling. The leash hooks to a ring in between the front legs, so there's less close body contact than with other varieties. Those who have done a training program with clickers will know that having your dog wear one of these can make things easier when you're practicing recalls.
The only disadvantage is they don't work well for larger dogs who pull hard on their leashes; it puts too much pressure on their chests and makes walking difficult (and painful if they accidentally step on the leash). They also offer no control at all if the dog pulls too hard or lunge.
A slightly different type of harness that can also be used for clicker training method is the Roman style dog harness. It's a lot like a regular dog harness, but with more straps and closures. You'll be working with three buckles on this design instead of just one to better distribute pressure from pulling and offer more control over your dog when he pulls.
It distributes pressure more evenly than just using a normal harness would and gives you better control if your dog starts lunging or pulling too hard, but it can still cause chafing if not fitted properly and some dogs find them uncomfortable to wear.
How to Properly Fit your Dog for a Harness
Choose the right size harness - If your dog is still growing, measure him around his upper body from just behind his front legs to just behind his back legs. When you're choosing a harness for an older dog, you'll want to measure him around the thickest part of his chest (right between the legs) and this measurement will be used to determine what size harness he needs.
Now that you have that number written down – double it! That's the best way to ensure that your dog won't outgrow the harness before you've had a chance to use it enough times. The sizing is based only on girth – not length so make sure when ordering one online that you order according to chest girth (not neck girth, weight or anything else).
Safety Considerations First
First things first – NEVER leave your dog unattended while they are on a harness, leash or collar. No matter what you choose, these are not substitutes for supervision when handling dogs. When using a harness, just remember that in addition to pulling more than they would with traditional gear, it's possible for them to spin around once connected to the leash and end up injuring themselves if the lead catches them before they have a chance to stop spinning.
You'll want to practice basic training commands ( come , sit , stay ) as well as avoid making sharp turns or changing direction abruptly so that your dog stays light on his feet and doesn't fall over. The most important thing is that whatever you choose is comfortable for your dog.
As soon as your dog is used to being in the harness, it's time to start training him using it. This should be done gradually with plenty of treats and positive reinforcement. The most important thing is that whatever you choose is comfortable for your dog.
You want him to be at ease so that he enjoys putting it on and doesn't challenge you while walking on a leash because he's feeling uncomfortable or overtaxed by the harness itself. Think about whether one style will fit better than another, as well as whether certain features are necessary or just something extra that won't take away from its purpose too much.
After you have the harness, it's time to start preparing him for leash training. This is something that will take time and patience on your part; if you rush things or push your dog too far, he'll never be fully trained. Even if he knows how to walk nicely while attached to a head collar, this doesn't guarantee a similar performance with the harness.
You want to give your dog some time to become accustomed to his new accessory , so make sure you're able to go through at least a week of regular leash walks before trying any sort of formal training regimen.
The best way to get started is by simply taking him outside for some playtime using the harness . During this period, there aren't many rules in place. You can play fetch, or bring along other fun toys , and your dog can get used to wearing the harness in a relatively low-stress environment . As long as you're using the proper leash length for his size (more on that later), you shouldn't find yourself worrying about him getting tangled up.
When you're walking around with your dog, it's easy to let obedience training fall by the wayside. You may not even realize it, but if you have a lot of distractions around – maybe there are squirrels outside or kids playing in the street – your dog might be tempted to walk ahead of you or pull against his collar. These behaviors aren't acceptable when attached to an adjustable harness, so make sure you keep an eye out for this and teach your dog to pay attention.
Trainers recommend that you use a harness on any dog to help him learn calm walking and leash manners. It's easier to keep your dog focused on you when he doesn't have the distractions of sniffing every blade of grass along the way, which makes training walks more pleasant for both of you.
To Wrap it Up...
One of the most important pieces of equipment you can have for your pup is a harness. In this blog post, we’ve provided information on how to properly size and fit your dog for a harness, as well as some common types of harnesses that are best suited for different needs and situations. Harnesses provide many benefits such as aiding in training or preventing pulling behavior while walking with their dog owners.
However, they also come with drawbacks like chafing or becoming caught on debris when off-leash. If you found our article helpful please share it! Which type of harness do you use? Do you find them useful?