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Front-Clip vs. Back-Clip Small Dog Harnesses: Which Offers More Control?

By Canada Pooch on Sep 6, 2023

Dog harnesses are an essential tool for pet parents, especially when it comes to small dogs. But with so many options available, it can be challenging to determine which harness will offer the most control. In this article, we will explore the different types of dog harnesses, specifically front clip and back clip harnesses, and discuss their importance. We will break down the features, pros, and cons of each type and examine situations where one might be preferable to the other. Additionally, we will compare front clip and back clip harnesses, highlighting their differences in control and training. Lastly, we will offer helpful tips on training your dog to get used to a harness and achieve optimal fit for ultimate control. 

Understanding the Role of Dog Harnesses 

Dog harnesses serve as a critical tool in a dog parent's arsenal. These vital pieces of equipment offer greater control over a dog's movements and posture, promoting better behavior and enhancing safety, particularly during walks or training sessions. 

Why are Dog Harnesses Important? 

Dog harnesses are not only essential for maintaining control but also imperative in ensuring your dog's comfort and well-being. When fitted correctly, a dog harness distributes pressure evenly across your dog's chest and shoulders, thus preventing chafing and injuries. 

Furthermore, dog harnesses can help pet parents manage and guide their dogs effectively, particularly in training scenarios or unfamiliar environments. 

Different Types of Dog Harnesses: Front-Clip and Back-Clip 

Two prominent dog harness types are the Front-Clip and Back-Clip, both offering their unique benefits. Deciding between these clip dog harnesses really depends on your specific pet needs and circumstances. Let's delve into these variants in detail. 

Breakdown of Front-Clip Dog Harnesses for Small Dogs 

For small dog parents struggling with leash pulling, a front-clip dog harness can be a game-changer. This style of harness provides enhanced control and steering to stop pulling, especially useful for tiny pups. 

But how exactly do front-clip harnesses work their magic? And are they the right choice for every petite pooch? Let's dive into everything you need to know about front-clip harnesses for small dogs. 

Features of Front-Clip Dog Harnesses 

Front-clip harnesses get their name from the leash attachment point positioned at the dog's chest rather than back. When your dog tries to pull forward, this front connection redirects their momentum back towards you in a curve. 

This steering effect gives you much greater control over your small dog's movement. You can easily turn them away from distractions they want to lunge towards. It stops them from forging ahead while straining against the leash. Front-clip designs also discourage pulling by tightening somewhat across the shoulders when dogs lean forward into the harness. This creates gentle pressure that prompts them to stop pulling. 

Overall, the front-clip steering and shoulder pressure work together to eliminate your small dog's ability to build momentum when pulling. 

Pros and Cons of Front-Clip Harnesses 


There are many advantages to choosing a front-clip harness for your tiny pup: 

  • Increased steering control for easy walking 
  • Stops leash pulling more gently than other tools 
  • Prevents injuries from straining on collars 
  • Helps deter lunging or reactive behaviors 
  • Aids leash training for better manners 
  • Allows control of strong small dogs 
  • More secure than collars which small dogs can slip 

Because of their size, even petite pups can be a handful for pet parent’s when pulling hard. The front-clip design gives you the upper hand regardless of your dog's strength. 

Good Candidates for Front-Clip Harnesses 

In general, front-clip harnesses work well for most small dogs. But certain small breeds are especially prime candidates: 

  • Terriers - Their pulling tendency makes them ideal for steering control. 
  • Dachshunds - Protects their delicate backs from straining against the leash. 
  • Toy breeds - Allows control over tiny dogs with big pulling power. 
  • Puppy pullers - Start leash training small pups on the right paw. 

Naturally, pull-prone small breeds gain the most from front-clip harness benefits. But they can transform walking for any little dog. 

Situations Where a Front-Clip Harness Offers More Control 

A front-clip harness presents clear advantages in scenarios requiring greater control, such as training sessions, busy urban environments, or situations where the dog exhibits issues with pulling. On these occasions, a front-clip dog harness can provide more control than a back-clip harness or even a head harness. 

However, the head dog harness, another popular dog harness type, can also be an effective tool when training dogs against pulling. But, in comparison, the front-clip harness is less invasive, does not cover the dog's face, and is generally easier for most dogs to adjust to. 

The ultimate decision between a front and a back-clip harness, or even a head harness, significantly depends on understanding the specific needs of your dog and the occasions on which the harness will be used. In any case, ensure your dog harness fitting is correct and does not cause discomfort to your pet. 

A Comprehensive Analysis of Back-Clip Dog Harnesses for Small Dogs 

For small dog owners seeking an everyday walking harness, a back-clip dog harness is a solid option. This common style of harness offers a simple and comfortable fit for casual use. But how exactly do back-clip harnesses work, and who are they best suited for? Let's explore everything about using back-clip harnesses with petite pups. 

Features of Back-Clip Dog Harnesses 

Back-clip harnesses get their name from the leash attachment ring positioned on the dog's back near their shoulder blades. When the dog pulls, the harness applies pressure across their chest to discourage pulling. But it does not actively steer or turn the dog's movement. 

The back-clip design allows for more freedom of movement compared to front-clip versions. It simply tightens to remind dogs not to pull, without forcing them to turn back toward you. The leash attachment also stays away from under their legs. Overall, back-clip harnesses gently discourage pulling using chest pressure but don't provide the same level of control as front-clip styles. 

Pros and Cons of Front-Clip Harnesses 


There are many advantages to choosing a simple back-clip harness for your small pooch: 

  • Allows moderate freedom of movement 
  • Less steering can suit dogs frustrated by front-clip 
  • Helps teach loose leash walking over time 
  • More comfortable fit for some dog body types 

A back-clip harness presents a happy medium between control and comfort for casual walking. It curbs pulling without constant steering pressure. 

Good Candidates for Back-Clip Harnesses 

In general, back-clip harnesses work well for: 

  • Mild to moderate pullers 
  • Dogs needing freedom of motion 
  • Brachycephalic breeds due to less restrictive fit 
  • Short-nosed flat-faced breeds 
  • Dogs frustrated by front-clip steering 
  • Pups that are initially leash-trained 

They excel at providing a comfortable fit for casual walking for dogs not prone to intense pulling. 

Comparison: Front-Clip vs. Back-Clip Small Dog Harness 

When it comes to small dog harnesses, both front-clip and back-clip styles have their advantages. But how do you choose between them? Let's directly compare these two popular options. 

Control and Steering Ability 

The clear advantage of front-clip harnesses is the enhanced steering control they provide. The front leash connection lets you easily turn your small dog away from distractions and refocus their attention. 

With back-clip harnesses, your dog has more forward momentum when pulling. The back-clip only tightens to discourage pulling but doesn't actively redirect movement. 

For small pups who need training against pulling or reactivity, front-clip is the way to go. But for polite walkers, back-clip allows more freedom. 

Fitting and Comfort 

Front-clip harnesses tend to have more adjustment points to ensure a customized, stay-put fit. However, some dogs dislike the tightness across the chest and shoulders. 

Back-clip versions have a simpler design but may shift more during wear. They put less pressure on the chest, suiting dogs who don't tolerate front-clip well. 

Consider your individual dog's body type and sensitivity to find the most comfortable long-term fit. 

The Verdict 

At the end of the day, choosing between front vs. back clip depends on your dog's unique needs and traits. Analyze their pulling habits and sensitivity to determine which style suits them best. With either clip type, proper fitting and conditioning is key! 

Tips on Using a Harness for More Control 

Investing in the right front or back clip dog harness is just the first step to gaining control over your pup. Properly introducing your dog to the harness and achieving an optimal fit is equally important for success. Follow these tips to maximize the control and effectiveness of your small dog's harness. 

Patience is Key When Introducing a Harness 

Don't expect your dog to accept a new harness overnight happily. Harness training requires patience and positive reinforcement. Start by letting your dog inspect, sniff, and lick the harness to build curiosity and comfort. 

Once your dog is relaxed and engaged with the harness, practice very short durations of wearing it around the home, provide treats and praise for calm behavior, and slowly increase the length of harness wear sessions. 

Taking it slow prevents frustration and allows your dog time to adjust to the new sensations of harness pressure. Rushing the introductory process can cause negative associations. 

Finding the Best Harness Fit for Your Small Dog 

An optimally fitted harness should be snug but not painfully tight or restrictive. You should be able to slide two fingers between your dog's body and the harness straps. 

Prioritize adjustable straps and multiple buckles so you can customize the fit as your dog moves and grows. Check for any rubbing after walks. Proper fitting maximizes comfort and control. 

Reward Positive Reactions to Build Enjoyment 

Any time your dog willingly engages with their harness or walks politely while wearing it, offer high-value treats and verbal praise. Reward loose leash walking or sitting calmly for harnessing. Mark and treat any curiosity about the harness. Get excited when they put their head through. Positive reinforcement creates a habit of good harness behavior. Your dog will associate the harness with fun times with you rather than restraint or punishment. 

Be Patient - Harness Skills Take Time and Repetition 

Keep your expectations realistic. Most dogs need several sessions before accepting a harness and building loose leash skills. Some may progress quicker, but patience is vital. 

End sessions on a positive note before your dog becomes frustrated. Frequently reinforce wanted behaviors. Progress gradually toward your goals through repetition. 

With time, the right fitting, and positive conditioning, your dog will come to see their harness as a cue for fun walks with you! Put in the work upfront and you’ll both reap the benefits. 

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