Selecting a Dog Harness

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Is your dog still working on their polite leash walking or can’t wear a collar due to health issues? Harnesses are an excellent option when collars are a pain in the neck! Both standard and no-pull type harnesses come in a myriad of fashion designs as well as the ability to personalize some! So which one is right for you?

Standard Harnesses

There are many harnesses whose simple function is to distribute pressure away from your dog’s neck to their chest and body. This can be important for dogs whose necks cannot support a collar. If your dog is not a puller and doesn’t back out of harnesses, most harnesses are acceptable.

Be sure to watch for two things: chafing under their front legs where some harnesses rub as well as straps across your dog’s front chest. Chafing can be uncomfortable and lead to sores. Likewise, harnesses with straps across the front chest that rides low near or between your dog’s front legs can impede their natural gait.

No-Pull Harnesses

There are many, Many, MANY harnesses labeled as “no-pull.” Some of these work by having a front strap that rides low near the front legs across your dog’s chest that inhibits their natural walking, but have the possibility of permanently affecting their gait.

Others work by tightening a strap around them between their front and back legs – which is frequently used as a short term measure in places like shelters! These work in the short term, but you should again watch for chafing. Often, dogs that are serious pullers will eventually learn to ignore the discomfort of tightness and pull anyway.

The downside to most other harnesses that clip in the back is that they do not force your dog not to pull. I have seen some harnesses that are startlingly similar to dog harnesses worn by sled dogs!

The most ideal harnesses we have found to use during leash training have clipped the leash to the front of harness. A front-clip harness makes your dog redirect around towards you if they are pulling. Remember when I mentioned that some dog harnesses have a strap in front that inhibit your dog’s ability to walk naturally? Watch out! Some of those harnesses also clip in front. Good idea, but not quite right….

Instead, we really enjoy both the Blue-9 Balance and Freedom harnesses. Both are incredibly good options for most dogs, as there are multiple points of adjustment for the perfect fit.

The Balance harness completely avoids the strap in the front riding low and inhibiting your dog’s gait by changing up the design away from a strap straight across the front of the chest. The Freedom harness fits similarly well, but if not fitted correctly, could potentially ride lower near the front legs, so be sure to fit your dog correctly.

There is a little bit of a price hike between the two, so if your dog doesn’t need as much adjustability to make that perfect fit, we think the cheaper option works just fine!

Balance Harness

Freedom Harness

“Hey! What about one of those collars that also has a loop around my dogs muzzle?”

Good point! Those are also a great training tool for some dogs. Keep in mind that they and harnesses for pulling dogs are just that: a training tool! Unlike harnesses, most dogs must get used to them through slow introduction so they are able to walk with them without pawing, fussing, or otherwise being uncomfortable and trying to remove them throughout walks.

Do you HATE to get out for walks? Is your dog a chronic puller?

Let us help! We offer both dog walking for busy pet parents as well as leash training options!

Dog Walking

Dog Training

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Ashley Klein

Owner & Pet Care Provider Blue Skies Pet Care, LLC