Harnesses for dogs

Take a look at the “who, why, what and where” of dog harnesses, and how easy they are to use!

Walking offers multiple benefits to you and your dog. It builds strong bones and joints, prevents obesity, pumps toxins out of the body, and even increases longevity. So why not invest in the best walking gear? Whether you’re upgrading your dog’s current harness or looking into harnesses for the first time, this article will answer all your questions.

WHO needs a harness?

Just about every dog can benefit from a harness, especially if he’s the type that pulls and strains on the leash. Some dogs simply prefer harnesses over collars. Either way, harnesses offer multiple advantages to most dogs and the people walking them – read on.

WHY should I use a harness for my dog?

They reduce pulling

Harnesses offer more control than collars, making them ideal for dogs that are difficult on walks. “The style design of most harnesses helps prevent the dog from pulling,” says Meera Brown of Smoochy Poochy, a company that offers leashes, collars and harnesses for dogs. Harnesses make it easier to redirect forceful behavior, and can even accelerate leash training.

They offer more support and security

Harnesses distribute the weight evenly across a dog’s chest. This makes them ideal for senior canines, and dogs with joint or muscular issues. Alternatively, if you travel or hike with your dog, harnesses can help you lift him into vehicles and over challenging terrain. Look for products with handles and built-in padding such as Hurtta’s Active Harness, designed with Neoprene-padding in all close-contact areas and a back-clip handle that can be used to secure your dog safely in a vehicle. Ruffwear’s Web Master™ harness is another great option for those who frequent trails, while their Load Up™ Harness is designed specifically for automotive travel.

They protect your dog’s windpipe

Harnesses designed for everyday use, such as Smoochy Poochy’s Step in Harness, are great for dogs prone to collapsing trachea, a syndrome that occurs when the windpipe loses its strength and caves in. Though small and senior dogs are more prone to collapsing trachea, harnesses prevent this syndrome in all ages and breeds. Even in dogs without this condition, harnesses prevent the choking and throat damage caused by pulling.

WHAT types of harness are available?

  • Back-clip

These harnesses feature a clip between the dog’s shoulder blades. Back-clip harnesses are perfect for small breeds and dogs that don’t pull, as they offer less control than other styles. As a bonus, a dog wearing a back-clip harness is unlikely to get the leash tangled between his legs.

  • Front-clip

Front-clip harnesses offer more control. “Our Front Range™ Harness features a front leash attachment point, which offers gentle correction and discourages dogs from pulling,” says Susan Strible of Ruffwear. This type of harness is ideal for training your dog not to pull on his leash or jump up during walks.

A front-clip harness is ideal for training your dog not to pull on the leash or jump up during walks.

  • Dual-purpose

Nowadays, you can find dog harnesses that double as backpacks, coats and even lifejackets!

HOW do I use a harness?

Putting a harness on your dog takes three simple steps:

  1. Place the harness open on the ground and have your dog stand overtop it. Help him step his paws into the appropriate loops.
  2. Pull the harness up around his torso and secure it using the fasteners.
  3. Tighten the straps so the harness fits snugly – but not too snugly. If you can’t insert two fingers between the harness and your dog’s body, it’s too tight.

To encourage good behavior and help your dog associate the harness with a positive experience, use treats to reward and encourage him. If your dog resists the harness at first, don’t force it. Be patient, and wait a couple hours before trying again.

Once your dog has accepted having the harness put on, get him used to it by letting him wear it around the house and yard. Just be sure to supervise him, as unattended dogs can sometimes snag harnesses on furniture, bushes and other objects. It may take him a little time to get fully comfortable with his harness, but once he is, you can head out for a stroll together!

WHERE can I buy a harness?

Found my Animal, foundmyanimal.com

Ruffwear, ruffwear.com

Sleepypod, sleepypod.com

Smoochy Poochy, smoochypoochy.com

The Dog Outdoors, thedogoutdoors.com

Hurtta, hurtta.com

Finding the right harness for your dog

  • Start by looking for a high quality well-designed harness made from durable materials. It’s better to pay more for a good product than to put your dog’s safety at risk by choosing something cheap that could break or wear out fast.
  • Making sure you get the right size is also crucial. “When you’re at a store, try the harness on your dog to ensure a proper fit, then attach a leash to it and walk around the store,” says Meera. “This allows the sales associate to make sure it’s used in the correct way, and lets you test out the product.”While some companies offer sizes based on breed or weight, most go by dimensions. Measure around your dog’s chest, just behind his front legs, and see the manufacturer’s size guidelines to find the right fit.
  • Next, consider your lifestyle and the activities you enjoy with your dog. Do you like long hikes over challenging terrain, or do you just stroll around the block a few times a day? Companies like Hurtta, Ruffwear and The Dog Outdoors offer a “shop by activity” section on their websites to help you find the best harness for your lifestyle.“There are essentially two ways people search for dog products,” says Scott Daughtry of The Dog Outdoors. “Some browse based on the particular item they have in mind, while some have an activity they want to enjoy with their dog. We pick favorite items based on the activities they work well for, and present them together.” This makes it easier for consumers to choose from brands and styles that meet their needs.