What is a Dog Harness For?

A dog harness is a pet product that fits around your dog’s chest for maximum comfort. Dog owners often select a harness for dog walking so that their pet is safe and secure, without the stress of their pooch slipping out or getting hurt by excessive pulling around their neck.

Whether you’re performing dog training or picking a harness for an easy walking experience, harnesses are a good alternative to dog collars that may pinch or choke.

Different Types of Dog Harnesses

Below you will find the most common types of harness to aid first-time or even long-time pet owners. Make an informed choice for your furry friend.

Step-In Harness

Step-in harnesses are designed so that each of your dog’s front legs steps into a designated opening. The harness is then pulled up and sometimes clipped on your dog’s back, or pulled tight with adjustable binding. If your dog is uncomfortable with you pulling a harness over its head, this is a good choice for the pet.

Front-Clip Harness

A front-clip harness has its leash attachment in the front of the harness. This design decreases the chances of the pet pulling on the leash and allows better manipulation by the trainer. Front-clip harnesses are also called dog trainer harnesses.

Many front-clip harnesses come with a function that discourages dogs from pulling or forging ahead. These no-pull dog harnesses gently tighten and add pressure around the chest strap and shoulder blades if the dog lunges forward. This is a gentle reminder for your dog to remain close to its handler.

Back-Clip Harness

A back-clip harness is a popular choice for most pets and is usually the easiest adjustment. These harnesses work best if you’ve trained your dog to walk beside you and will not pull on the leash.

Choose this option for its gentle fit around your dog’s head, avoiding any harsh pulling near your dog’s throat. Previous bad experiences with a collar may cause you to choose a back-clip harness.

Vest Harness

A vest harness resembles a vest and offers wider and thicker support for your dog’s body. Good vest products include mesh or webbing for breathability. The benefit of this option is that it distributes pressure across your pet’s chest and back. This feature offers maximum comfort and reduces tension in a particular area.

If you have a sturdy and strong dog prone to reacting to other pets or people, a vest harness gives you ample control.

Vest harnesses can be helpful if you enjoy hiking or longer walks with your pet. Many options include small pockets or reflective strips for safety.

different types of dog harnesses

How to Choose the Right Harness For Your Dog

You can choose the proper harness for your dog by measuring its head, neck, and chest girth to ensure that straps or buckles fit without any discomfort or ability to escape. Speak to your vet or veterinary staff at a pet store to assist you with your purchase.

Here are some things pet parents can look out for to ensure they have the best dog harness:

  • Select a premium quality dog harness. A good quality harness is a worthy investment in your dog’s comfort as a regular-use item. A luxurious, non-irritating material with solid clips and straps will keep your pet safe and stand the test of time. Something easy to clean is also ideal.
  • Comfort is key. Good material and expert design will prevent chafing on your dog’s body. You can avoid your dog experiencing discomfort by choosing a harness with padding for your dog’s chest and soft straps around your dog’s neck and legs.
  • Adjustable straps provide a perfect harness fit. Pet’s come in different shapes and sizes, and the chosen harness should offer adjustment points to ensure flawless comfort.
  • Ease of movement is essential. As your pet ages or fluctuates in weight, their fitness and flexibility can change too. Dog walks are a great opportunity to exercise your pet, so check that the harness fits correctly every time. Subtly weight loss or gain could indicate a medical issue, and these nuances can alert you to signs you may not have noticed otherwise.
  • User-friendly features are a bonus for dog harnesses. Consider how you intend to use the harness or what activities you will be including your dog in.
    • Some vest harnesses have handles that add security and control.
    • Others use reflective materials for increased visibility.
    • Would pockets be useful for poop bags or treats?
    • Do you want extra D-rings for attaching an ID tag or double leash strength?

By paying close attention to your pet, you’ll identify the signs of an ill-fitting harness. Are there red patches and chafing under the dog’s shoulders or on the neck? A dog who struggles to walk at a decent pace or stops to scratch at the harness could be showing irritation with the fit. Adjust the harness and see if their behavior changes.

how to choose the right harness for your dog

How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to measure your dog for a harness:

  1. Add two inches to every measurement, or insert two fingers below the measuring tape to record the best-estimated size for your pet’s harness.
  2. Measure the girth of your dog’s chest over the fullest size of their ribcage. This will be right behind your dog’s shoulders on the broadest part of their torso.
  3. The neck measurement is also important. Place the tape measure where a collar would rest, leaving two finger-widths of space.
  4. Next, measure their topline (back length). Start at the base of your dog’s neck to the base of their tail. Not all harnesses will go this far, but this measurement will help you to see that the harness isn’t too long.

Tip 1: Take your dog along to the pet store to try on various harnesses. This way, you can assess how easy it will be to put it on and find a harness that fits your dog’s body as it should.

Tip 2: Select the larger fit if your dog is between sizes.

Typically, whether online or in-store, you’ll be able to find sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-large. Products should include a sizing guide that will help you to select a size based on the measurements similar to the ones you’ve taken of your pet. You can also take your measuring tape to test the sizing if your pet cannot join you on your shopping trip.

how to measure your dog for a harness

How to Put a Harness on a Dog

Putting a harness on your pet can be complex, so we’ve created this step-by-step guide on how to put on a dog harness. The exact fitting of the harness you’ve chosen will depend on the harness type you’ve chosen for your dog.

  1. Start by introducing your new puppy or older dog to the harness. Let them sniff it and practice wearing it around the house so that they can adjust to their new accessory.
  2. Approach your pet when they are calm and sitting still so that you can easily fit their harness. This will make it easier for you to see where every section needs to go.
  3. Find the most comfortable position for smooth and quick fitting of the harness. You may want to kneel in front or behind your pet. A small dog can sit on your lap while you attach the harness to your body. Soon enough, you’ll find the best position for easy dressing.
  4. Fit the harness. With a step-in harness, your dog’s front paws will go into the leg holes, and adjust or clip on your dog’s back. Pet owners need to draw overhead harnesses over their pet’s head to position the leash attachment on its back. You will then clip the back of the harness or the front of the harness, depending on the harness design.
  5. Adjust the harness for a comfortable fit. Make sure the harness sits securely but not tightly. Make any necessary adjustments. You want to be able to slide two fingers under the strap, making sure there is space for your pet to breath and move without difficulty.
  6. Attach the leash, praise your pet for cooperating, and enjoy your stroll.