Whether you’re looking for a dog harness for a French Bulldog or Great Dane, you want to find a product which not only fits your breed but is comfortable, secure and reliable.
While most new dog owners know why a dog collar is used, they may not be aware of the pros and cons. Collars, though widely used, may not be a great option for your dog – particularly if they tend to pull on their leads.
In this article we will look at the purpose of a dog harness, why it’s used for dogs who pull and why it’s a good alternative to a traditional collar.
What is a dog harness?
Dog harnesses like those made by Ruffwear, Julius K9 and others are especially made to fit on a dogs upper torso. Once fitted, a leash can then be attached. Harnesses come in various styles and sizes – these include:
- Walking Harness Vest: Usually soft vests the dogs wear, rather like a jumper. Though these offer few features – they are great for dogs who are well behaved on leads or those puppies you are training to use a dog harness.
- No Pull Dog Harness: These are dog harnesses which are specifically designed to reduce the impact of your dog pulling on their leash as well as training them to stop the behaviour.
- Front range no pull harnesses
- Back range no pull harnesses
The type of harness you select will often be determined by your dogs temperament, size, age and walking behaviour.
Size is important – a Dachshund dog harness will not be a good fit for a large breed dog such as a Bernese mountain dog. The way different manufacturers use sizing (sometimes in inches, sometimes with generic small, medium, large) means you should always measure your dog beforehand.
Measuring your Dog for a Harness
To measure your dog, take a tape measure and wrap it around the widest part of your dogs chest. This is often a few inches beyond the front legs. Once done – add another 2 inches (to allow for growth). This is the main measurements of most dog harnesses. Some, such as pull on (rather than step in harnesses) may ask for neck measurements. The same basic principle applies to the neck as the chest measurements.
Choosing a Collar or a Harness
Many people may simply ask “why not just get a dog collar?”. For casual use, dog collars are great. They’re simple and inexpensive ways to pop a leash on your dog and go for a walk. The are also great for storing the, often legally required, dog identification tag.
The issue often comes when you have a dog who either pulls on their leash or can dart off at the sight of a passing squirrel. The struggle while wearing a dog lead can put a great deal of pressure on your dogs throat, especially the trachea. This can be incredibly damaging to your dog.
In addition, pulling while wearing a collar does little to train your dog to behave better while they’re out for walkies in the park. Not only that, a dog may pull more on a caller in an attempt to escape the unpleasant sensation.
Dog harnesses are designed to remove this pressure on the neck by dispersing the pull across the whole of the chest.
How to Choose the Right Dog Harness
With so many to choose from, it can be difficult finding a harness that’s right for your dog. I often find that the best way is to try several options (remember most products can be returned if they are not right for you). For example, a vest harness may be a good starting point. It will allow your dog to become familiar with putting a harness on and wearing them when out. Initially they may hate the sensation (mine did) but will grow used to it.
You can then move on to a no-pull dog harness. Often these are sufficient however if you struggle to control your dog (particularly when they are a large breed) – you can look into a Front and Back no pull harness like the Ruffwear Adventure harness. These are designed for double ended leads to guide and train your dog.
If you have a dog who tends to pull on their leash, a harness could be the perfect answer for you. Not only are they great for reducing pulling behaviour, they’re great for training. Just remember to find one that fits properly to avoid it being too tight or slipping off when out in the park.