How to Choose a Dog Harness


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Why Choosing the Right Dog Harness Is Important

When I first brought my furry friend home, I was overwhelmed with the myriad of things a new dog owner needs: food, toys, beds, grooming tools—and of course, a harness for walks. If you're like me, you probably want to ensure that your dog's harness is not only comfortable but also meets their specific needs. 🐶

By choosing the right dog harness, you are not just making walks more enjoyable for your dog; you’re also contributing to their overall health, safety, and well-being. This blog will guide you through the essentials of selecting the best dog harness, making it a rewarding experience for both you and your pup.

Understanding the Types of Dog Harnesses

Before diving into the decision-making process, it's essential to understand the various types of dog harnesses available. Each type serves different purposes and has its pros and cons.

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1. Back-Clip Harness

Best For:

  • Small to medium-sized dogs
  • Older dogs
  • Dogs with neck issues


  • Easy to put on
  • Comfortable for day-to-day use
  • Reduces tension on the neck


  • Not ideal for training strong pullers

2. Front-Clip Harness

Best For:

  • Dogs in training
  • Large and strong breeds


  • Great for reducing pulling
  • Offers better control
  • Encourages better walking posture


  • Can twist or get tangled

3. Dual-Clip Harness

Best For:

  • Versatile needs
  • All dog breeds


  • Combination of back-clip and front-clip benefits
  • Flexible for different situations
  • Great for growing dogs due to adjustable features


  • Can be more expensive
  • Might be cumbersome to put on

4. Step-In Harness

Best For:

  • Dogs that dislike having things put over their heads
  • Small to medium-sized dogs


  • Easy to put on
  • Comfortable and secure


  • May not provide as much control over large, strong dogs

5. No-Pull Harness

Best For:

  • Obedience training
  • Dogs that pull excessively


  • Prevents pulling behavior
  • Improves walking manners


  • Can be restrictive if not sized correctly

Key Features to Consider

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Once you’re familiar with different types of dog harnesses, it's crucial to look at other features that can greatly impact your choice.

Durability and Material Quality

When I bought my first dog harness, I didn't pay much attention to the material quality, and it wore out in a couple of months. Ensure the harness is made of durable materials like high-grade nylon, polyester, or neoprene. Reflective stitching or materials can further add to the durability, especially for those late-night walks.


Dogs grow, gain, or lose weight. An adjustable harness can accommodate these changes, ensuring that it remains comfortable and functional. Look for multiple adjustment points to ensure a customizable fit.

Comfort and Padding

Comfort is paramount. Padded harnesses distribute pressure evenly and provide a cushioned, comfortable fit. Make sure the harness does not rub against the dog's skin, which can cause chafing or irritation.

Ease of Use

If you're like me, you appreciate a harness that is straightforward to put on and take off. Look for quick-release buckles and intuitive designs. A step-in harness might be an excellent choice if your dog is especially fidgety.

Safety Features

Safety should never be compromised. Features like reflective strips, sturdy buckles, and a secure leash attachment point can make a huge difference in keeping your dog safe.

Style and Color

While functionality is key, style doesn’t hurt! Choose a harness that fits your dog’s personality, whether it’s a vibrant color or a stylish pattern. 🐾


While it may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, remember that you often get what you pay for. Investing in a quality harness upfront can save money in the long run.

Measuring Your Dog for the Perfect Fit

One of the most critical steps in choosing a harness is getting accurate measurements of your dog. A poorly fitted harness can cause discomfort or even injury.

Here's how to measure your dog:

  1. Neck Size: Measure around the base of the neck, where it is thickest.
  2. Chest Girth: Measure the widest part of your dog’s chest, usually right behind the front legs.
  3. Back Length: If applicable, some harnesses also require the measurement from the base of the neck to the waist.

Pro Tip: Always measure your dog while they are standing. It ensures accuracy.

Measuring Tips

When measuring for a harness, always follow these tips:

  • Use a soft measuring tape.
  • Allow enough room for a couple of fingers between the dog and the tape to ensure comfort.
  • Measure twice to guarantee accuracy.
  • Consult the manufacturer's sizing chart and follow it closely.

Behavioral Benefits of Using a Dog Harness

You might be wondering, what's the big deal about using a harness instead of a collar? Well, the behavioral benefits are significant.

1. Reduced Pulling

A front-clip harness can drastically reduce pulling behavior, making walks more enjoyable for both you and your dog.

2. Better Control

Harnesses give you better control, which is vital for larger breeds or dogs that are not yet fully trained.

3. Agility Training

Harnesses that distribute weight evenly are excellent for agility training and other high-energy activities.

4. Safety and Comfort

Harnesses avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your dog's throat, which can be particularly beneficial for brachycephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

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Choosing a dog harness may seem straightforward, but there are common mistakes that many dog owners make.

Buying Without Measuring

Never skip the measuring step. An ill-fitting harness can cause discomfort and even harm your dog.

Overlooking Material

I once bought a harness that looked fantastic but was made from cheap material. It wore out quickly and offered little comfort. Always check the materials used to ensure durability and comfort.

Ignoring Your Dog's Behavior and Needs

If your dog is a puller, a back-clip harness won’t help much. Choose a harness tailored to your dog’s specific needs and behaviors.

Not Adjusting Properly

An adjustable harness is only beneficial if you take the time to adjust it correctly. Ensure that the harness fits snugly but isn’t tight.

Skimping on Quality

While it might be tempting to go for the least expensive option, this often results in false economy. Quality matters when it comes to your dog’s safety and comfort.

Top Picks: My Favorite Dog Harnesses

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After trying out various harnesses, I’ve compiled a list of my top picks categorized by need and breed.

Best Overall: Ruffwear Front Range Harness

Why I Love It:

  • Durable and high-quality material
  • Multiple adjustment points
  • Padded for comfort
  • Reflective trim for visibility

Best for Small Dogs: Puppia Soft Dog Harness

Why I Love It:

  • Soft, breathable material
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Available in various sizes and colors

Best for Large Dogs: Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness

Why I Love It:

  • Heavy-duty materials
  • Designed to reduce pulling
  • Padded chest plate for added comfort and safety

Best for Training: PetSafe Easy Walk Harness

Why I Love It:

  • Front-clip attachment to discourage pulling
  • Adjustable for a perfect fit
  • Highly effective for training purposes

Best Budget Option: Voyager Step-In Air Dog Harness

Why I Love It:

  • Affordable without compromising quality
  • Step-in design is easy to use
  • Lightweight and comfortable

Detailed Harness Reviews

To give you a better idea of why these harnesses made it to the top of my list, let's break down their unique features in more detail.

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

Ruffwear is known for producing high-quality dog gear, and their Front Range Harness is no exception. It is crafted from durable materials designed to withstand wear and tear from daily use and outdoor adventures. The harness features multiple adjustment points, allowing for a customizable fit that grows with your dog. The padding ensures your dog remains comfortable even on long walks.

One of the standout features is its reflective trim, which offers increased visibility during night walks, ensuring your dog remains safe.

Puppia Soft Dog Harness

The Puppia Soft Dog Harness is an excellent choice for small dogs due to its lightweight, breathable material that keeps your pet comfortable without sacrificing security. The harness slips on easily and is secured with a durable buckle. You can find it in a range of sizes and colors, allowing you to pick one that best suits your dog’s personality.

This harness is particularly well-suited for everyday use and short walks, making it a practical and stylish choice for your furry friend.

Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness

The Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness is engineered for large dogs that require strong, durable gear. Its heavy-duty materials can handle significant force, making it an ideal choice for dogs that tend to pull. The harness features a padded chest plate that offers comfort while distributing pressure evenly, minimizing stress on your dog’s body.

This harness also includes a seatbelt attachment, which can make car travel safer for your dog, providing added value.

PetSafe Easy Walk Harness

Designed primarily for training, the PetSafe Easy Walk Harness is highly effective in discouraging pulling behaviors. Its front-clip design redirects your dog’s forward motion and makes it easier to guide them. The harness is fully adjustable, ensuring a snug fit that prevents discomfort and slipping.

The Easy Walk Harness is an excellent tool for obedience training and for walking dogs that tend to get overly excited.

Voyager Step-In Air Dog Harness

Balancing affordability and quality, the Voyager Step-In Air Dog Harness is perfect for budget-conscious dog owners. The step-in design is extremely user-friendly, making it simple to get your dog ready for a walk. Despite its lightweight build, the harness is durable and comfortable, suitable for both short strolls and longer outings.

Its affordability does not compromise its functionality, making it a great entry-level harness.

Taking the Next Steps

Choosing the perfect dog harness involves a combination of careful measurement, thoughtful consideration of your dog's needs, and a willingness to invest in a quality product. By doing so, you enhance not only your dog’s comfort and safety but also the overall bonding experience that comes with those daily walks.

Action Item Checklist:

  1. Measure Your Dog: Take accurate measurements of your dog's neck, chest, and back.
  2. Research: Decide on the type of harness that best suits your dog's size, behavior, and needs.
  3. Read Reviews: Look for harnesses that have positive reviews and meet your criteria.
  4. Purchase: Purchase the harness and make sure to try it on your dog immediately.
  5. Adjust: Adjust the harness for a snug but comfortable fit.
  6. Test Walk: Take your dog for a walk to ensure the harness is effective and comfortable.

Training Tips for Using a Harness

To maximize the benefits of using a harness, it's essential to train your dog to wear it correctly and ensure they respond well to it.

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1. Positive Reinforcement

When first introducing your dog to a harness, use positive reinforcement. Give your dog treats and praise to create a positive association with the harness. Start by letting them sniff it and gradually work up to putting it on them. This method helps to reduce anxiety and encourages your dog to embrace wearing the harness.

2. Short Practice Sessions

Start with short practice sessions around the house before taking your dog on a full walk. This approach allows your dog to get accustomed to the sensation of the harness and understand that it’s linked to positive activities, such as exploring outdoors. Gradually increase the duration and complexity of these sessions as your dog becomes more comfortable.

3. Consistency Is Key

Consistency is crucial when training your dog to use a harness. Be consistent with commands and cues during walks, and ensure that all family members follow the same routine. This consistency helps your dog understand expectations and reduces confusion.

4. Correcting Pulling Behavior

If your dog tends to pull, combine your no-pull harness with training techniques to correct this behavior. When your dog starts to pull, stop walking and wait for them to return to your side before continuing. Use a firm but gentle tone to redirect their behavior. Over time, your dog will learn that pulling does not lead to further exploration, but walking calmly does.

5. Regular Adjustments

As your dog grows or their weight fluctuates, regularly check the fit of the harness and make adjustments as necessary. An improperly fitted harness can cause discomfort or chafing, leading to negative associations with walks. Regular adjustments ensure your dog remains comfortable and enjoys their time outside.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Q: How often should I replace my dog’s harness?

A: The lifespan of a dog harness varies based on its material, quality, and frequency of use. Check the harness regularly for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed edges or weakened buckles. A high-quality harness can last several years, but it’s important to replace it at the first sign of damage to ensure your dog’s safety.

Q: Can puppies wear harnesses?

A: Yes, puppies can wear harnesses. In fact, starting them young can make it easier for them to adapt to wearing one as they grow. Ensure you choose a harness that is lightweight, adjustable, and specifically designed for puppies to accommodate their smaller size and growing bodies.

Q: How tight should a dog harness be?

A: A dog harness should be snug but not tight. You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably between the harness and your dog’s body. If the harness is too tight, it can cause discomfort and restrict movement. If it’s too loose, your dog can slip out, posing a safety risk.

Q: Are there specific harnesses for different breeds?

A: While most harnesses are designed to be versatile, some are better suited for certain breeds due to their unique body shapes and sizes. For example, harnesses with extra padding and support are ideal for breeds with a deep chest, like greyhounds, while smaller, lightweight harnesses work well for toy breeds. Always consider your dog’s specific breed characteristics when selecting a harness.

Q: Can my dog always wear the harness, even when indoors?

A: While it’s generally safe for your dog to wear a harness indoors, it’s advisable to remove it when they are resting or sleeping to prevent discomfort and allow their skin to breathe. Long-term use without breaks can cause chafing or pressure sores.

By following these guidelines and tips, you’ll ensure that you choose the best possible harness for your furry friend, enhancing their comfort and your peace of mind. Happy walking! 🚶‍♂️🐕

Feel free to reach out or leave comments with any questions you have about choosing the ideal dog harness.

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