The Many Reasons Pet Owners are Flocking to Dog Harnesses

January 12, 2016


No matter what size dog a person owns, no matter if they live in the city or a farm, no matter if their dog is just a puppy or is a senior dog, they all have one thing in common: they want to take the best care of their dog they can. A dog harness is one of the keys to achieving that goal.

The Top Six Reasons to Invest in a Dog Harness

There are several types of dog harnesses but no matter which one works well for you, vets agree that there are a lot of reasons to invest in one.

The Size of Your Dog May Necessitate It

Big dogs can be muscular and very strong. Using a dog harness gives owners more control – especially for dogs that struggle with good leash behavior. On the other hand, small dogs can be delicate and more prone to injury.

When small dogs wear a no pull dog harness it disperses pressure to the entire body and back, compared to just a small area on the neck as they’d experience in a traditional leash. Spreading the stress over a larger surface area can help ensure they stay safe.

Wearing a Dog Harness Can Prevent Choking and Other Injuries

Injuries to the neck and trachea can happen when dogs yank against, pull on, and fight their leash. A dog harness, on the other hand, isn’t attached to the neck – which means it doesn’t come with these risks.


There are several types of dog harnesses but most attach to a hook between the dog’s back shoulders. It takes the stress off their necks and is generally considered safer. There are also several types of dog harnesses that attach to the chest or head of the dog.

Dog Harnesses Can Prevent Tangling

Dogs that fight their leash or get excited can jump and twist in such a way that they not only tangle themselves in their leash but tangle their humans as well.

Strong dogs can wrap leashes around fingers, feet, legs, arms, or wrists. They can pinch or otherwise injure their owners. Large dogs often don’t know their own strength or understand that they’re hurting you.

Harnesses are much more difficult to tangle. While it’s still possible that a dog can get tangled in a dog harness, it’s much less likely – and much easier to correct – compared to the ease of tangling in a leash and the difficulty of getting it fixed.

They’re a Great Training Tool

Dogs can certainly learn good behavior on a leash but when they wear a harness you’ll have more control over their training. When training is easier, dogs will associate the harness with a pleasant experience of going out with their owner.

For example, consider how difficult it can be to put a leash on an excitable dog that’s wiggling around. Then think how much easier it would be to attach a dog harness to the back or chest of a dog. It’s much easier!


It’s Easier to Keep the Dog Secure

Many dogs don’t particularly enjoy being restrained. Some dogs can work a collar of their necks relatively easily. On the other hand, harnesses that are fitted properly – that is if they’re the right style and size for the dog – are much more difficult – if not impossible – to wriggle out of.

There are also safety reasons to use a harness when you’re transporting your dog via car or truck. Harnesses can attach easily to the seatbelt, which helps keep your pet safe while you’re driving. If you get into an accident the dog will be securely in place.

A Dog Harness Discourages Pulling

Most dog harnesses have two attachment points. There are many advantages to this, including the fact that it means that pulling won’t have the effect a dog wants it to have. As a result, your dog will naturally learn not to pull.

Different Types of Dog harnesses

There are many types of dog harnesses. They’re made in a variety of styles and designed for the individual needs of dogs. Some are made of simple straps while others have material that covers a large area of the dog’s back or chest.

There are also different types of dog harnesses with different attachment points rather than the traditional options. The best dog harness for each dog depends on its weight, size, and particular needs. Here are some of the most popular types of harnesses.

Front Clip Dog Harness

The Way It Works:

The leash attachment is in the middle of the dog’s sternum.



  • You have more control over pulling, jumping, and other bad leash manners.
  • You have good directional steering abilities, which means the dog can be easily turned around when you need to.


  • Though you do get more control, this dog harness is not the right choice for dogs with serious behavior issues. For example, a very aggressive dog likely needs a walking tool with extra control, like a head halter.
  • It’s possible for the leash on the front of your dog’s chest to tangle under your dog’s front legs. However, this can be prevented by not giving the leash too much slack.

Who Buys This Dog Harness:

The front clip dog harness is often the choice of dog trainers who are trying to teach dogs to stop pulling on their leash. The chest clip allows a lot of control over the dog and allows them to be easily moved to face the owner or trainer if need be.

Step-in Harness or Back Clip

The Way It Works:

The ring on which the leash attaches is on the top of your pet’s back.



  • They’re very easy to put on your dog.
  • They’re very comfortable for the dog to wear.
  • They protect dogs’ necks.
  • Many people think they’re the cutest option. You’ll find a wide range of options with various decorative patterns and other embellishments.


  • They don’t offer adequate control for dogs with behavior issues.
  • Untrained dogs can use this type of dog harness to pull their owners along.
  • Aggressive dogs need more control.

Who Buys This Dog Harness:

This is often the top choice of owners of small dogs. They’re often the most easily adjusted to, so owners who are getting their dogs used to harnesses may choose this option. These are generally not the choice of professional dog trainers.

Tightening Harness

The Way It Works:

This type tightens and adds pressure when dogs pull. It’s also known as a no pull dog harness.



  • Since tightening harnesses add a slight pressure on dogs when they pull – but without causing pain – they’re a great device for rehearsed pullers.
  • They are easier to put on dogs than other options.


  • While these do a decent job of teaching dogs not to pull on harnesses, they don’t necessarily teach a dog not to pull on a loose leash.
  • Some tightening dog harnesses hurt dogs. This can create negative associations with both leashes and harnesses – as well as other people and dogs. The key is to make sure you’re choosing one that fits correctly and is designed to not cause dogs pain.

Who Uses It:

Both trainers and individual dog owners use these types of dog harness. They’re great training tools but they have their limits and generally won’t teach a dog not to pull on a loose leash. The best no pull dog harness will properly fit your pet.

Vest Harness

The Way It Works:

The D-ring for the leash is located on the dog’s back – which is very far from the vulnerable throat area.



  • They’re very easy to put on dogs.
  • They’re easy to transport.
  • They can close in either the front or the back.



  • They’re not the most secure type of harness.
  • They are not designed to teach a dog to walk on a leash.
  • They are only useful on dogs that have already mastered walking on a leash.

Who Uses Them:

These are most commonly used for service animals.

Dog Lift Harness

The Way It Works:

These harnesses include handles that allow the owner or trainer to easily lift all or a portion of the dog.



  • They increase mobility of older dogs.
  • They help injured dogs get around.
  • They can help dogs recover from serious injuries or diseases.


  • These are generally used therapeutically and one lifting harness for dogs will likely only work for the dog it was purchased for.

Who Uses Them:

Owners or trainers of a dog that needs physical therapy. Sometimes they’re used for a short period of time while in other cases they’re used for the rest of the dog’s life. A dog lift harness can lift the front, back, or entire dog.

Novelty Dog Harnesses

There are many other types of dog harness, including novelty options like the GoPro dog harness. This harness includes a camera so you can get a dog’s eye view of your next outdoor adventure.


Dog Harnesses are Generally Not Worn All the Time

It’s important to remove the harness when your dog gets back from an outing. If they wear it constantly it can rub the fur or irritate the skin. In other instances, it can matt the fur. This won’t happen unless they wear it consistently. Even if you take your dog out on the harness multiple times a day it will be fine as long as you remove it between outings.

How to Put on a Dog Harness

How to put on a dog harness will depend on what type of harness you purchased. Here are some simple steps for the most common types of dog harness.


How to Put on a Front Clip Dog Harness

  1. Before trying to put it on, line it up with your dog. The D-ring should go in front, on your dog’s chest. The strap with the buckle goes under your dog’s chest and behind his front legs.
  2. Slip the straps over your dog’s head with the D-ring in front.
  3. Clip the buckle under your dog’s belly.
  4. Adjust the straps so they fit snuggly but not too snuggly.
  5. Clip your lead to the D-ring.

How to Put on a Step-in Harness

  1. Unbuckle the harness and lay it flat on the ground.
  2. Put your dog’s left leg in the left loop and his right leg in the right loop.
  3. Snack the strap buckles together.
  4. Adjust the harness so you can fit two fingers underneath it comfortably.

Finding the Best Dog Harness

There isn’t a single dog harness that works for every breed of dog and every need you may have. Instead, it’s up to you to consider all your options and choose the best one. Here are a few things to consider as you shop the various options.


  • To chest pad or not to chest pad? Dogs who don’t like extra bulk will be more comfortable without a chest pad but for dogs who don’t mind the bulk, a chest pad can be more comfortable and can stabilize the harness.
  • Proper adjustment is key. The good news is that with most harnesses after you adjust it the first time you can remove it and put it back on with the straps already adjusted.
  • Your dog is likely to not like the harness right away. If you use it consistently it will most likely get used to it. You can help speed up the process by offering them treats and praise when you get the harness on them.
  • The first time you use the harness you should try it following some play and petting time. The calmer and happier they are, the more likely they are to take to the harness earlier rather than later.

A dog harness can help you train your dog correctly, can keep them secure on daily walks or outdoor adventures, and can help older and disabled dogs get around on their own.

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