Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Pets
  3. Dogs

Dog harnesses

See also

There is an old adage that leashes serve as everything from birth control to good neighbor relations. Their use is mandated many places and most dog owners would never be without one, at least for emergencies. Deciding what the leash should be attached to is another matter.

A dog harness is a great option because it gives you multiple points of contact, distributing pressure from the leash to a greater surface area. It also relieves the sensitive neck structures from sudden impact which can cause injuries that are quite serious.

Harnesses come in such a wide variety of styles, it can be complicated to learn to use one. Since they can't be left on a dog when he's unattended, taking them off and putting them back on, should be simple.

Let's take a look.

Step in Harness
Step in Harness dc

Step in Harness

A simple and versatile harness is the step in style. This one is lined up ready to step in to. Consider gradually introducing your dog to the donning process with treats and have him wear the harness indoors for a test drive before taking it on the road.

How to fit
How to fit DC

How to fit

Make sure the harness is sized to fit your dog and have the dog step in. For wiggly dogs, holding the harness off the floor or table top for each front leg helps.

Buckle
Buckle DC

Buckle

Step in harnesses buckle at the shoulders and have two rings, one attached to each buckle element, for the leash. This way, even if the buckle fails, the harness will still be connected by the leash clip.

Features
Features DC

Features

Before choosing a step in harness, look for adjustments. These two harnesses look alike. But the pink one (note where the pen points) has an additional adjustment on the strap between the breast band and the belly band which accommodates deep chested dogs such as hounds.

Standard Harness
Standard Harness DC

Standard Harness

The most common harness is a little more complicated to put on but more versatile as well. There are two bands attached by two straps. One band goes around the dog's neck. The other, usually with a buckle, goes around the dog's body. A strap goes down the dog's back and the other goes between the front legs.

Leash options
Leash options DC

Leash options

Standard harnesses have an added advantage of connecting with the leash at the rear end of the back strap. This gives both the handler and the dog new positions of leverage.

Alternate use
Alternate use DC

Alternate use

They also often have a ring that holds the neck band to the belly strap. Attaching the leash to this forward ring which is not the intended use, can aid in teaching a true puller to change strategies. This doesn't always work but is an advantage to consider when choosing a harness.

Easy Walk
Easy Walk DC

Easy Walk

The Easy Walk by Premier purchased by PetSafe places the leash connection in front of the dog rather than behind. This harness makes it impossible for a dog to pull on the leash while walking. The Freedom Harness (not pictured) uses the same laws of physics with added comfort features because it slides around on the dog's body much less than the Easy Walk.

Walk N Sync
Walk N Sync DC

Walk N Sync

This unique harness has two buckles in the belly band which makes it easier to fit and put on. It's also how the harness accomplishes training benefits in addition to the disbursement of leash pressure.

Walk N Sync
Walk N Sync DC

Walk N Sync

This particular harness is a combination of body work, restraint and pull management. The Walk N Sync is only available from one source but well worth seeking out to manage much more than walking the dog. See the website for more.

Specialized Harnesses
Specialized Harnesses DC

Specialized Harnesses

The Walk N Snyc incorporates a hook at the base of the Neck band which is unlike other harnesses.

A variety of harnesses serve multiple purposes from clothing to training tools. Just be certain that decorative clothing harnesses can be safely used as a leash attachment and that harnesses that are advertised as seatbelts or carriers have been tested for those purposes.

Harness purse
Harness purse DC

Harness purse

Some specialty harnesses can be used for technical work (parachute, rappelling, search and rescue) or for uses such as this one--to walk and carry your dog as needed. 

Makeshift harness
Makeshift harness DC

Makeshift harness

If you need a harness and don't have one, you can use a long leash to create one. Of course, it's not for long term use since sliding fabric can irritate dog's skin over a longer walk.

Wrapping
Wrapping DC

Wrapping

Attach the leash to a sturdy collar that does not have a squeeze feature and wrap the leash under the dog's chest. Make sure not to pinch longer hair or skin during the wrap.

Finish
Finish DC

Finish

Pull the leash handle through the dog's collar and you have a multi point contact almost as comfortable for the dog as a harness. This arrangement gives you more leverage but a shorter leash.

Choosing a leash connection isn't simple but hopefully this overview makes it a little easier.

If you are looking for other options, particularly collars, check the list of collars for features and ideas.

Advertisement