When you take your first dog harness out of its package and see a jumble of straps, rings, and clips, it can be a bit daunting trying to figure out what goes where on your dog.
It is important that the harness is put on properly so that your dog gets the benefits that come with wearing one such as comfort and control.
If you are struggling, you have come to the right place because we will talk about the pros and cons of using a harness, how to choose the right one for your dog, and finally how to put one on your dog by using three of the most common dog harness styles as examples.
Table of Contents:
Why You Should Use a Dog Harness
There are a lot of benefits that come with using a dog harness, but it is not the solution for every dog.
Some dogs, no matter what style of harness you decide, will not like how it feels on them and will do their best to wriggle out of it and put up a fight but with a bit of patience and positive reinforcement, they should get used to it soon.
One of the biggest pros of using a harness with your dog is that you will have much more control over them which is great if you have a strong dog that likes to pull.
Harnesses with a ring at the front are designed to stop pulling as you use a double-ended leash to clip onto their chest and back. This helps to prevent pulling because they are turned to the side instead of able to continue to charge forward as they would be able to in a collar.
As well as having more control, harnesses are much more comfortable than collars for your dog if they are a bit of a puller.
A dog that pulls a lot with a collar on can be at risk of a collapsed trachea as it squeezes on their windpipe and the strain will likely make them cough and breathe heavily.
Using a collar is only so secure because it only takes one snap for your dog to run loose which is very dangerous, especially near busy roads.
Harnesses are tougher, and your dog will have a harder time breaking free from it from straining, they are also usually clipped onto the lead with two rings which gives you a backup.
Finally, using a harness gives you a lot more freedom with colors and patterns which can make your dog stand out from the crowd and let its personality shine through.
You can also get Velcro attachments with messages such as ‘nervous’, ‘friendly’, and ‘deaf’ which will let everyone know of your dog’s special needs, making their daily walks go a lot smoother.
Choosing The Right Dog Harness for Your Dog
There are lots of different styles of dog harnesses that you can choose from which is great for finding the perfect fit for your dog but can also be a bit overwhelming.
You don’t want a harness that rubs on underneath your dog’s armpits or stomach which is more of a risk if you have a dog with short hair.
A harness that is shaped like a Y at the front is great for allowing full shoulder mobility whilst giving the dog plenty of room to breathe.
Lightweight harnesses are a good choice for active dogs that are about medium, the line harness is a good example of a lightweight harness as it is ergonomic and very versatile as well.
It also has a handle on the back of it which you can use to quickly grab to get your dog to move out of the way of a hazard.
If you have a dog that pulls, you should get a harness that has a ring at the front and is made of tough material that can put up with the strain. A dog that doesn’t pull will suit a standard everyday harness that has the ring attached to the back of it.
If you have an energetic, strong dog that loves to go on hiking trips with you, there are harnesses that have little saddlebags that you can use to store their collapsible water bowl, treats, and other hiking equipment that saves you having to carry them and will give your dog more of a workout as well!
To find out the best harness for your dog, you can take them to a pet store as they will usually offer a service that allows you to try the harnesses right there in the store.
You can however also do this online by browsing different harnesses and reading the reviews to ensure that you get a good product, they will also typically have size charts on the product page as well which will make sure you get the right size for your dog.
It is very important that your dog harness is the right size because it can be very uncomfortable if it is too tight or too loose and as your dog exercises in it, the harness can rub so much that some areas become bald or even bloody.
A harness that is not the right size will also restrict their movement and that makes outdoor adventures a lot less fun.
Good ways to know if your harness is the right size is if you can vertically fit two of your fingers between the top of the dog’s neck and the harness if your dog is medium-sized. For smaller dogs, this space should be a bit smaller and for large dogs, it should be a bit larger.
This method can also be used to check that the depth of the harness is fitting correctly, two vertical fingers should be able to fit in between the harness and the dog’s chest.
If you think you got the right size of harness for your dog, but these measurement tests are a bit off, then you can adjust the harness to fit your dog by using the straps that all harnesses should have.
How To Put On A Dog Harness
Now that we have gotten all the other harness information out of the way, and you have found the perfect harness, you can put it on for the first time!
A standard harness is one that loops around the ribs behind the front legs with another loop going around the neck with a ring on the back for the leash.
The first thing you need to do is get behind your dog with them in either a standing or sitting position which is nice and calm.
Then, the part of the harness that has a ring on it should be at its back with the wider loop going on first and the smaller loop going on second.
Get your dog’s front leg and put it through the first leg hole which should now make it between the loop that goes around the neck and the one that goes around the ribs.
After this, you can buckle the harness and make sure that the other front leg is in its leg hole but if the buckle is not able to close, then you will have to loosen the strap a bit.
Front Clip Harness
As the name suggests, a front clip harness has a ring at the front where the lead clips onto which is designed to stop them from pulling.
They can vary a bit in design as some have a loop that goes around the chest and also around the ribs whilst others are shaped like a step-in harness which is similar to a standard harness but instead forms triangles around the legs instead of rectangles.
To put on a front clip harness, start by kneeling beside your dog whilst they are standing or sitting. Put the harness loop over the dog’s head so that the ring is placed at the center of their chest.
Then, reach underneath their stomach to fasten the strap and adjust it if it feels too loose or tight, if your dog can pull the harness over their head, then it will need to be tightened.
The step-in harness is similar to the standard harness, but it is shaped slightly differently and will need you to put it on your dog by letting them step into it.
To begin with, lay the harness flat on the ground so that you can see the triangles and where your dog’s legs need to go. The buckles of the harness should be on top of the rings.
Then, place your dog’s legs into the two triangles and pick up both ends of the harness and attach them together on the dog’s back and adjust if needed.
Harnesses have lots of benefits such as making your dog more comfortable, more in control, and not able to pull which makes your walks enjoyable for both you and your dog.
Once you get past the sheer number of harnesses that you can choose from, you will soon find the perfect option for your dog which will be very easy to put on once you have read through this guide, no matter what style of harness you get.