Miniature Goldendoodle puppy sitting on city Park bench. Puppy is 3 months old.

How to Choose and Fit the Perfect Harness for Your Dog

Reading Time: 4 MIN

As a dog owner, ensuring your pet is comfortable and safe during walks is paramount. The right gear can make all the difference, and that’s where a well-fitted dog harness comes in. But how do you pick the right one? And how do you ensure it fits your dog correctly? This guide will help you navigate the world of dog harnesses, dog collars, and dog leashes.

Young pit bull terrier dog in no pull harness sitting during outdoor walk

Why Choose a Dog Harness?

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s briefly discuss why a dog harness might be the right choice for you and your dog.

1. Better Control: A harness gives you better control over your dog, especially if they are large or tend to pull on their leash. The harness fits around the dog’s chest and back, allowing you to guide them more effectively without causing any strain or harm.

2. Safety: Harnesses are considered safer than collars because they reduce the risk of neck injuries. When a dog pulls on a collar, it can put pressure on their throat, potentially causing harm. A harness disperses that pressure across a larger area of their body, reducing the risk of injury.

3. Discourage Pulling: Some types of harnesses are designed to discourage dogs from pulling. Front-clip harnesses, for example, will pull a dog around towards you if they start to pull, which can help train them to stay by your side.

4. Comfort: Many dogs find harnesses to be more comfortable than collars. This is especially true for short-nosed breeds (like pugs), small breeds that are prone to tracheal collapse (like chihuahuas), and dogs with medical conditions like cervical intervertebral disk disease.

5. Visibility: Some harnesses come with reflective strips or are made with bright colors to increase your dog’s visibility, which is especially useful for nighttime walks.

While collars are still widely used and can be perfectly fine for many dogs, harnesses can offer increased control, safety, comfort, and visibility. It’s always important to consider your individual dog’s needs and behavior when choosing between a collar and a harness.

Happy French Bulldog standing a the camp site in Osmington Mills, Dorset

How to Choose the Right Dog Harness

Choosing the right dog harness is not as simple as picking the first one you see. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Size: Your dog’s size is the most important factor when choosing a harness. A harness that’s too small can be uncomfortable or even harmful. A harness that’s too big won’t provide adequate control. Measure your dog’s girth (the widest part of their chest) before shopping.

  2. Comfort: Look for a harness with padding to ensure your dog’s comfort, especially if they’ll be wearing it for long periods.

  3. Material: Durability is key when it comes to dog harnesses. Look for ones made from strong materials like nylon or leather.

  4. Style: There are several styles of dog harnesses including back-clip, front-clip, and dual-clip. Back-clip harnesses are best for calm dogs, while front-clip harnesses offer more control for dogs that pull. Dual-clip harnesses offer the best of both worlds.

Various angles of a Saint Bernard Puppy

Fitting Your Dog’s Harness Correctly

Once you have the perfect dog harness, it’s time to ensure it fits correctly:

  1. Adjust the Straps: Start by loosening the straps before placing the harness on your dog. Once on, adjust the straps for a snug fit.

  2. The Two-Finger Rule: You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably between the harness and your dog’s body. If you can’t, the harness is too tight. If you can fit more than two fingers, it’s too loose.

  3. Check for Chafing: After a few walks, check for any signs of chafing or discomfort. If you notice any, the harness may not be the right fit or style for your dog.

cute small jack russell dog in a car wearing a safe harness and seat belt. Ready to travel. Traveling with pets concept

Don’t Forget About Dog Leashes

While a dog harness is important, don’t forget about choosing the right dog leash. The leash should be sturdy and comfortable to hold. Consider a retractable leash for more freedom during walks. Or consider a shorter leash for busy areas where close control is necessary.

In conclusion, a well-fitted dog harness can significantly improve your walks with your furry friend. Take the time to measure your dog, research different styles, and adjust the fit as needed. Your dog (and their neck) will thank you!

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