Walking our dog can be a challenge. You have to deal with your dog’s pulling, their impatience, and their fear of strange objects. It is not an easy task. You want to make the experience as easy on both you and them as you can, but it might seem like they are actively trying to make it difficult. A good way to handle this is with a dog harness.
What are Dog Harnesses?
Dog harnesses are accessories that you can attach your leash to. They go over the dog’s back like a collar, but they distribute pressure more evenly. They also reduce choking or gagging because it takes the force off of the throat and distributes it across the chest.
Best Dog Harnesses
Types of Dog Harnesses
There are two main types of dog harnesses: front attaching and back attaching. Front attaching harnesses connect to the leash in the front, while back attaching harnesses attach in the back. The type you need depends on your dog’s behavior problems.
Front Attaching Harnesses
Put simply, these accessories redirect your dog’s pulling onto their chest. This reduces choking and gagging, because the pressure is still on your dog’s throat but it’s not as bad. It also distributes the force more evenly across your dog’s body, which can reduce pain from pulling. If you have a dog that pulls or has other behavior problems while walking on a leash, a front attaching harness is the best option.
Back Attaching Harnesses
If your dog doesn’t pull while walking on a leash, this type of accessory is your best option. They can actually make pulling worse, which you don’t want if they aren’t doing it to begin with. Additionally, back attaching harnesses are less effective at reducing choking and gagging. If your dog doesn’t have behavior problems when walking, this is the best type of accessory to choose.
As you might expect, these accessories come in a wide variety of styles and designs. You can order them in pet stores or online, and they range from cheap to expensive depending on what features they offer. No matter what type or size you need, there is sure to be an option that will work for your dog.
How To Choose the Right Dog Harness
If you need to order a harness for your dog, there are a few simple measurements that you’ll need before checking out. To start, all of these accessories have different ways of fitting dogs with different body shapes and sizes. As long as the accessory is adjustable, it should fit your dog just fine.
For example, adjustable straps of stretchy material are popular. You can tighten or loosen them with buckles of some sort rather than having to buy different sizes for your dog. This gives you more options but means you’ll need to measure your dog before buying one.
Every harness has an adjustable neck strap and potentially waist straps too. These are the two main areas that you’ll need to measure before getting one for your dog. If there are other straps, you can simply estimate their size.
Neck Strap Size
The neck strap is the part of the harness that goes around your dog’s throat. Depending on how big or small they are, this strap will be somewhere between 6 and 24 inches long. To measure this area, you’ll need to get a piece of string or yarn that is about 6″ longer than your dog’s neck.
Fold the yarn in half and use it like a measuring tape to get an exact number. Put one end at the middle of your dog’s throat (right where the collar is) and measure it all the way to their shoulder. Add a few extra inches for safety sake, then double your number.
Waist Strap Size
Every dog harness also has a waist strap, and you’ll need to know your dog’s waist size in order to get the right accessory. If the harness doesn’t have an adjustable waist size, there is no point in getting one that doesn’t fit your pup.
To get the best measurements for this area, have your dog stand normally. If you’re right handed, put your left hand around their torso just behind the front legs. When using the right hand, slide it between their body and tail (so they don’t think you’re trying to grab them by the tail). This location is where most harnesses will attach on dogs with larger torsos.
Measure from your left hand to your right. If you have a tape measure available, do it that way so you get an exact measurement. Add two inches for safety sake, then double the number to find out how wide their waist needs to be.
Benefits of Using a Dog Harness
- Even if they aren’t pulling, it reduces choking and gagging because the accessory goes around their chest instead of their throat. This
- is especially important for small dogs, pups with short muzzles, and young puppies. Additionally, some types of harnesses are designed to reduce or eliminate pulling by encouraging good behavior.
- They do this by putting pressure on the dog’s torso in specific places when they pull.
- If your dog is a puller, using one of these harnesses is an excellent idea. However, if their pulling isn’t behavior-related, it won’t help them to stop doing so at all.
- Harnesses don’t work on all dog breeds or all shapes and sizes. If you have a broad chested breed like a German Shepherd or a very large dog, you’ll need an accessory that goes on their back instead.
- Additionally, it doesn’t work on all dogs who have anxiety issues with being restrained either. If your dog has a problem being leashed up and going on walks, going on a harness probably won’t fix the issue.
- Finally, some dogs simply don’t like the feel of wearing a harness. This is especially true for breeds with thick coats or dogs that are very sensitive to touch. If your dog falls into either category, using an accessory like this one will only make them more anxious on walks.
As long as you’re aware of these limitations and factor them into your buying decision, a harness can be a great accessory to add to your pup’s leash collection. They work for most breeds and types of dogs and give them more freedom than a collar.
Tips for Walking Your Dog with A Harness
Harnesses are very easy to put on and take off, but they can be a bit complicated if you’ve never used one before. The following tips will help you get the most out of your accessory:
Make sure that it’s fitted properly. If there is too much extra space between the harness loops and your pup’s skin, it will likely slip and slide when you try to walk with it on.
Start by fitting the accessory over their head, then sliding it down to their back. Always keep your dog’s tail safely in between any loops that come off of their body so they don’t get their tail caught in them and hurt themselves.
To get them used to it, let them wear the harness in the house for a few days. This way they become familiar with its feel and won’t try to rub it off on furniture or scratch at it when you try to take it for a walk.