Pet Talk: What is the best harness for my dog?

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I am often asked about the best dog harness. There are a variety of styles, so depending on the dog, and what the harness will be used for, there are a lot of options that can be confusing.

No-Pull Harnesses

A lot of people are surprised to learn that there are harnesses that, by design, will reduce your dog’s pulling behavior. These harnesses are thoughtfully designed to clip on the chest, rather than the back. Dogs will pull instinctively when the leash is clipped on a collar or on their back. I often joke that they “will look like they have been to leash training classes.” I’m often met with an owner’s complete surprise and amazement when they try one on, and their dog immediately walks normally, without pulling.

My favorites are Wonder Walker and Freedom No-Pull Harnesses. There are many brands that make these harnesses. However, I try to support smaller companies, and these two make a great products.

Head Harnesses

There are a few styles of no-pull harnesses that fit on the dog’s muzzle rather than the body. These are also to prevent pulling however will take a little training time for both you and your dog. My favorite is called Walk’ n Train Dog Head Halter. They have ones that fit dogs as small as Jack Russell Terriers and as large as a very large Labrador Retriever or Rottweiler. An advantage to this style of no-pull harness is that the owner can control the dog’s snout. This can be very helpful if you have a dog that eats things off the ground that they shouldn’t, such as garbage or food scraps, as you can quickly re-direct their nose.

Seatbelt Harnesses

It’s true. These do exist! I’m often surprised to see so many dogs in my drive-thru that are un-tethered, and always worried when I see one in a front seat (think airbags). I wish every dog owner who includes their dog on car rides to use a seatbelt harness. These harnesses offer a secure design that can be used with your car’s seatbelt, thus keeping your dog from bouncing around in the event of quick braking or even a crash. These seatbelt harnesses can also be used as a regular harness, so it really is a win-win.

The best I’ve found are Impact Car Harness by Kurgo, Tru-Fit Dog Car Harness by Kurgo and Moto-Control Harness by RC Pet Products. Kurgo has actually crash-tested their harnesses at a 30-mph crash. All three offer harnesses to fit most dog sizes.

Everyday Harnesses

If you have a dog that walks well on leash, but you want to know that you won’t be harming their trachea by attaching a leash to the collar, you need an “everyday harness.” These are the majority of harnesses on the market, and their styles range considerably. However, they all will have leash clasps on the backside.

There are simple ones that are 1/2” -1” wide to others that are mesh fabric covering 1/4 of your dog’s body. Look very closely for design at where your leash attaches. Is it all plastic? Is the stitching reinforced? In other words, is it well-made and will hold up, especially in an emergency such as hiking next to a large drop-off? Can your dog back out of it? I sell a lot of harness replacements to dog owners who had a major scare with their dogs where they slipped out or the buckle broke.

My favorite harnesses are made by Oregon-based Ruffwear, EzyDog and Plush. All three brands offer something different, so it depends on your dog’s body shape and what kinds of activity you will be doing while they are wearing one.

“But my dog is a Medium!”

Universal sizing does not apply to the pet garment industry! For best-fitting results, either bring your dog into your pet supply store, or, measure the neck and chest circumference. All dog harnesses will have several inches to either expand or shorten. They should fit with enough room for expansion and should never be so tight that you cannot put the width of two fingers underneath. Most stores will let you return your harness if it was tested at home but didn’t fit or wasn’t the right style for your dog. I have a 30-day return policy if returned in brand new, re-sellable condition.

A good-fitting harness can look cute and function well too. My team and I would love to help you choose one for your pup so you can have all the fun adventures together this summer with a harness that works for you!

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