Walking should be a big part of the relationship you and your dog have. So, when walking with your best friend, you want them to be as comfortable as possible. Your dog cannot go to the local pet shop and buy their own harness, so it’s up to you to provide your dog with a harness that is the right size and style, and more importantly, comfortable.
There are many options to choose from. In today's world, pet care has become a much bigger market, inspiring products that allow you to treat your pet even more like a member of the family. Check out the following information on picking a harness based on your pooch’s breed!
What Harness is Best for Your Dog?
Determining the best kind of harness for your pup depends on a number of things, but most often, it comes down to breed (if you have a specific breed), size, and behavior.
The breed of your dog plays a big part in choosing the correct harness for them. Not only does their specific breed determine size most times, but it can also help to determine the typical behaviors they’ll exhibit while on leash.
Obviously, a larger breed dog is going to need a much larger harness, and that will determine the size that you’ll look for. Most harnesses are on a standard sizing system of Extra Small to Extra Large. That being said, there are exceptions to all rules, and accurate measurements will still need to be taken.
Breed behaviors are, again, not always true, but the breed of your dog does give you a considerable idea of the amount of energy that they’ll exert and if they should be free-range or walked. That being said, just like with size, there can be exceptions. Your Collie may not be as wily as others and won’t require a harness that allows for more control.
Last but not least, breed can determine the harness you choose based on their health needs. For dogs that have short snouts or flat faces, they’ll need a front-clip harness instead of a back-clip harness so that the risk of injury when pulling is reduced.
The size of your dog matters massively, as the harnesses you’re looking to purchase may not be available in the correct fitting. This problem mostly applied to large dogs, but since then, many pet retailers have become more size-inclusive.
Harnesses are ideal for larger breeds as they provide more control while walking. They lend themselves to good leash manners, something that all dogs need, but especially large dogs that may be intimidating.
Is your dog rowdy, pulling at the leash whenever given the opportunity? Or are they calmer, walking so close to you that the leash goes slack from time to time? This kind of behavior really helps to determine the specific kind of harness you’ll need so that you can enforce good leash manners if necessary!
Some dogs are also escape artists, another behavior that should determine what kind of harness you purchase. Escape artists need to be properly fitted, as it’s crucial that their harness stays snug and doesn’t allow for escape.
The Four Most Common Types of Harnesses
When it comes to body harnesses for dogs, there are four common types, each with its own benefits and downfalls. Consider the following when choosing your dog’s harness.
Perhaps the most popular kind of harness is the front-clip harness. These are best used for breeds that have a hard time with leash manners and like to pull. As they pull on this harness, it creates pressure on their chest, which they typically won’t like, causing them to stop pulling. If they continue to pull, the harness’s purpose is to lead the dog either right or left, depending on the orientation of the leash.
With the control comes disadvantages, however. These harnesses can cause the leash to tangle in the legs of pooches more easily and do not allow for changing sides of your pup with the leash. The head of your dog typically gets in the way. These harnesses are also prone to chafing if not fitted properly.
The opposite of the front-clip harness, the back-clip harness is best for breeds that don’t have issues with pulling. The harness is essentially the same design as the front clip, but instead of the clip being positioned on the chest of your pup, it’s on the back, further from the neck of your dog.
A fun fact about dogs when being led is that when pressure is applied, they try to pull in the opposite direction of the pressure. That’s what makes these so bad for dogs that like to pull. As they pull forward, the pressure is applied backward and encourages harder pulling! Avoid these for high-energy pups.
Dual-clip harnesses really are the best of both worlds. Dual-clip harnesses allow you to modify the walking style that you have with your pup as their leash manners get better over time. They’re able to be front-clipped while leash training and back-clipped once they’ve been trained adequately. This allows for a lifelong harness for your pup, so long as it’s properly fitted.
These are also fantastic for large breeds in particular. Because of the multiple points to clip to your leash, with large breeds, you can attach a double-ended leash for better control and security if your large dog likes to really test your arm strength.
Not the most common option, or the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a harness: head halters are for pups that just cannot stop pulling. When the pup pulls hard, the sensitive spots on their face and head are touched. This stops them from pulling most times. If your dog doesn’t stop pulling, they are prone to a neck injury.
Additionally, the head halter is hard for some dogs to get accustomed to, and it can take weeks. While it may look like a muzzle, it is not. It still allows the dog full use of their mouth and only really affects them when they pull.
The Martingale Loop
While the Martingale loop is more commonly found on collars, some harnesses have a Martingale loop on them as well. This gives your furry friend some looseness while they’re walking on leash, but the moment they pull, an extra loop of fabric closes, tightening on the dog. This creates pressure and indicates to them that they need to stop pulling.
Fitting Your New Harness
Always make sure to measure before buying a harness, as fit is everything. Sizing guides for most manufacturers are online and are fairly easy to find. Generally, all of these harnesses can be fit in the same manner, using some simple techniques.
- If you can’t bring your pup to a place to fit the harness, measure all of the indicated bodily areas so that you can be sure the harness will fit.
- Should you be able to try the harness on your dog before purchasing, use the two-fingers technique. Two fingers stacked should fit between the harness material and your dog’s body and be snug.
- Make sure that you follow the recommended weight that the harness supports. If your dog outweighs the limit, they may break the harness while pulling.
- The harness and your dog should be dry. Wet harnesses and fur can give the impression that the harness is loose enough, though it may not be.
Whether it’s a harness or a collar, it’s important to follow the above instructions.
Try Different Things
With all of the available options on the market, there are plenty of types of harnesses to try out. The most important thing to keep in mind is your dog’s comfort and health. Don’t purchase a harness that your pup may accidentally injure themselves on. If you’re unsure about the type of harness to purchase, the safest bet is a dual-clip or multi-clip harness, as it gives you options when attaching your pup’s leash.
A New Leash on Life
In the world of harnesses, be sure to take special notice of your breed’s needs or your mixed breed’s needs. Some breeds have health issues that limit the number of options for your dog’s harness, but it’s more important to keep them healthy and injury-free!
Harnesses are wonderful options that provide comfort and freedom to your pet in an appropriate amount without the risk of injury if chosen and fitted correctly. Give a harness a try today! You might find that you like it better than what you’re working with now!