A Guide to Harnesses
By Michelle Edmundson
Harnesses are not just for dogs that pull or for securing a dog in the car. There are a variety of styles of harnesses that both you and your pet can benefit from. Not every type of harness is good for every dog however; they can be as unique as your pet is! With so many options, which is best for your dog? We have pulled together some common harnesses and what they are best used for.
What dogs benefit from harnesses?
Dog harnesses can be beneficial for a variety of situations and can be extremely useful in training as well as providing additional security and comfort for your pets. For dogs that are pullers, have throat issues or respiratory diseases, a harness will not put pressure on their throats. Some breeds are more prone to these issues and it can be critical that pressure is not applied to their throats.
Types of Harnesses
- Back-Clip Harness
Back-clip harnesses attach to the leash at the back of the dog, commonly between their shoulders. This type of harness is very comfortable and easy for your dog to walk in, and it is a great option for small dogs and those with throat issues. Another great perk of back-clip harnesses is that the leash is less likely to get tangled under your pet’s feet and it is easy to put on. These are also great for older dogs who may need a little “lift” now and then. Back-clip harnesses are not recommended for larger dogs being trained not to pull, and can actually cause more pulling.
- Front-Clip Harness
Front-clip harnesses attach to the leash at the front of the dog, at its chest. This type of harness is commonly used for training dogs to walk on a leash and they restrict pulling and certain movements. This type of harness gives the owner more control over the movements of the dog and allows for redirection, but some fancy footwork may be needed by your dog, as the leash can sometimes become tangled while walking. Although this harness offers more control for training, for dogs with aggression issues it may require additional training tools.
- Tightening Harness
These types of harnesses come in both front-clip and back-clip options, but have a space that tightens as the dog pulls providing pressure and “reminding” the dog they are pulling. The slight tightening is uncomfortable and for dogs that have almost mastered the art of walking on a leash, this is a gentle reminder. With this type of harness it is important to size it correctly so it does not cause pain and only a mild pressure.
Getting the Right Fit
Here are some tips when fitting your dog’s harness. To be sure you find the perfect fit, visit our instore Pet Experts who will be happy to help your dog find their perfect new harness.
- Get the Stats. Your pet’s weight, chest measurements and neck measurements are essential when picking their new harness.
- Check the harness. Harnesses will tell you what size is best for which weight and measurements. Choose a size that your pet falls mid-way in the scale. If your dog falls in the overlap of two sizes, go with the bigger size.
- If your dog is hard to fit, try to choose a harness with many points to adjust the sizing. This will allow for a more customized fit.
- When adjusting the harness use the “2-finger rule” as with collars. The harness should fit tight enough that the dog will not be able to escape or pull their legs through, but loose enough that you can fit 2 fingers between the harness and your dog.
How can you tell if your dog’s harness doesn’t fit? If your dog can wiggle out or pull its leg through the harness it will need to be tighter. If the harness is too tight then you may notice hair loss or chafing on contact areas, commonly across their back or under their arms. A sign that the harness style might not be right for your dog is rotating while being worn, or if your dog is resistant to walking but has walked fine in other harnesses.
Harnesses & Sweaters
Sweaters and harnesses can be worn at the same time, but note where the hole is in the sweater for your leash to attach to. If the hole is on the top, between your dog’s shoulder blades, it won’t work with a front-clip harness. Another option is to put your dog’s harness on top of their sweater, which may mean you need to adjust the sizing of the harness (and don’t forget to adjust it back when the weather is warmer!).