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Large Dog Harnesses: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Dog

By Canada Pooch on Sep 25, 2023

Navigating the world of dog accessories can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to choosing the perfect harness for your large pup. Choosing the right harness is important for your dog's safety on walks or runs, and it can help you both enjoy outdoor adventures. Let's explore what you need to know about choosing a large dog harness. 

Why Choose a Harness for Your Large Dog? 

The Importance of a Dog Harness 

A harness provides a safer and more comfortable way to control large breed dogs. The full support dog harness is essential for giant breed dogs, particularly if they are a large or reactive dog. 

Harnesses designed for bigger dogs usually have quality construction with features like reflective trim for increased visibility, an adjustable fit for maximum comfort, and centered leash attachment for balanced control. This is why many dog trainers and dog behavior experts often advocate for harness usage over collars for large dogs such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, or Mastiffs. 

Harness vs. Collar: Pros and Cons 

When it comes to harnesses and collars, the former generally provides more control over large, active dogs. For instance, a no pull dog harness can be a godsend for dog parents dealing with a reactive dog or a big dog with a poor temperament. 

On the other hand, while collars can work with proper training, they can sometimes contribute to negative experiences like skin chafing or injuries, especially in large dogs with a strong pull or a sudden lunge. 

Benefits of Using a Harness 

Using a harness for your dog offers several benefits, making it a popular choice for dog parents over traditional collars, especially in certain situations. Here are some of the key benefits of using a harness: 

  • Reduced Neck Strain: Unlike collars, which put pressure on the neck when the dog pulls or lunges, harnesses distribute the force across the dog's chest and back. This reduces the risk of neck injury, especially for dogs prone to tracheal or cervical spine issues. 
  • Improved Control: Harnesses provide better control over your dog's movements, especially for dogs that are strong pullers or have a lot of energy. This makes it easier to manage your dog during walks and helps prevent them from darting after distractions. 
  • Prevents Escape: Some dogs can slip out of collars, especially if they have a smaller head or neck in proportion to their body. Harnesses are more secure and make it harder for a dog to escape. 
  • Enhanced Training: Harnesses are useful tools for training because they give you more control over your dog's body movements. They can be used for teaching commands and behaviors like loose-leash walking. 
  • No Choking: A properly fitted harness eliminates the risk of choking that can occur when a dog pulls on a collar. This is especially important for dogs with respiratory issues. 
  • Comfort: Many harnesses are designed for comfort and are padded, reducing the risk of chafing or skin irritation. This is especially important for dogs with sensitive skin or short fur. 
  • Security in the Car: Some harnesses are designed to be used as seat belt restraints in the car, ensuring your dog is safely secured during travel
  • Prevents Jumping: A front-clip harness can discourage jumping by redirecting the dog's forward motion. This is helpful for managing overly enthusiastic or excitable dogs. 
  • Safety for Small Breeds: Small dogs are more susceptible to injury when pulled by a collar due to their fragile necks. Harnesses provide a safer alternative. 
  • Medical Conditions: Dogs with certain medical conditions, such as collapsing trachea or brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs), benefit from harnesses because they reduce pressure on the throat and airways. 
  • Prevents Aggressive Behavior: For dogs prone to aggression, a harness can provide additional control, making it harder for the dog to lunge and bite. 
  • Even Weight Distribution: Harnesses distribute the force evenly across the dog's body, which can be especially beneficial for dogs with orthopedic issues or arthritis. 
  • Hiking and Outdoor Activities: Harnesses are popular for hiking and other outdoor activities, as they allow for better control and can accommodate additional gear like backpacks or safety lights. 

It's important to note that not all harnesses are created equal, and choosing the right one for your dog depends on their size, breed, temperament, and specific needs. Be sure to measure your dog accurately and consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer if you're unsure about which type of harness is best for your pet. 

Types of Dog Harnesses Suitable for Large Dogs 

Big dog parents often face the challenge of finding the perfect fit when it comes to dog harnesses. Owing to the size and strength of their pups, it is essential to choose a harness that not only ensures maximum comfort and avoids skin chafing but also provides added control during walks and training sessions. 

No Pull Dog Harnesses 

When it comes to large reactive dogs, such as Great Danes or other big breed dogs, a pull dog harness can perform wonders. These harnesses help in managing and improving behavior, especially when on a loose leash. 

However, dog parents should remember that a pull harness is not a substitute for proper dog training and should be used in conjunction with positive reinforcement techniques. 

Padded Harnesses 

For the dog parent prioritizing comfort, a padded harness is a prime choice. This type provides cushioning to avoid skin abrasions while also distributing the force evenly across the chest and back when the dog pulls. This is particularly critical for big dogs with poor temperament, who may have a tendency to lurch or pull. 

Adjustable Harnesses 

Not all big dogs are the same size, and as such, one harness size does not fit all. Adjustable harnesses ensure a proper fit for every large dog. They come with multiple points of adjustment, ensuring a snug fit regardless of the dog's size or body shape. Coupled with quality construction, they are ideal for active dogs involved in dog sports or long walking sessions. 

Reflective and Safety Harnesses 

The safety of our large dogs is always a concern, especially during walks in low-light conditions. A reflective harness improves visibility, ensuring that your dog is visible to motorists from a distance. Additionally, safety harnesses often come with a leash attachment, further enhancing control and safety while walking or running. 

Harnesses with Handles 

Extra-large dogs or those with mobility issues can benefit significantly from harnesses with handles. This handle offers added control, enabling the parent to assist their dog in moving around. This is especially useful in older dogs or those with arthritis. 

How to Choose the Right Harness for Your Large Dog 

As big dog parents, we understand the unique challenges that come when handling giant breed dogs. A large breed dog requires a different level of control than an average dog does. That's where a full range of high-quality dog harnesses comes into the picture. 

Here's what you need to know about choosing a coverage dog harness for your large dog, striking a balance between comfort and control. 

Assessing Your Dog's Size 

Before choosing a perfect size large dog harness for your big dog, you need to be certain of its size. One of the most important aspects of using a dog harness is ensuring a proper fit. Measure your dog's chest and neck circumference to provide maximum comfort and avoid skin chafing. 

Remember, loose leashes and harnesses may lead to escape attempts, while too tight can cause discomfort or pain. 

Identify Your Harness Needs 

Basic dog harnesses work well for most large dogs; however, certain situations might call for specialized harnesses. 

A pull dog harness is great for dogs that love outdoor activities and dog sports. These harnesses offer added control and are suitable for dog parents dealing with reactive dogs. 

A full support dog harness, on the other hand, would be a better option for older dogs that require a bit more assistance and care. The duo gear and sport dog harness exemplify full support harnesses, providing stability and support all day. 

Consider Your Dog’s Breed and Temperament 

Considering your big dog's breed and temperament is also crucial when choosing a large dog harness. Different breeds have different physical characteristics and behavior that affect how they interact with a harness. Make sure you consider your dog’s temperament when choosing a harness, a large dog with a strong pull would need a harness that allows you to have more control over the dog. 

How to Correctly Size and Fit a Dog Harness 

For big dog parents like you and those who own giant breed dogs, understanding how to correctly size and fit a dog harness is crucial. Dog harnesses, such as a full support dog harness, can greatly aid active dogs in dog sports by providing a perfect balance of control and freedom. 

Measuring Your Dog’s Girth 

The first step in providing maximum comfort to your large dog is accurately measuring your dog's girth. But what is 'girth'? It is the measurement around the broadest part of your dog’s chest. In the case of large breed dogs, this can be a sizable measurement! 

Quality construction includes creating a dog harness that can easily be adjusted for a proper fit. You can achieve this by loosely measuring around your dog’s body, just behind the front legs using a tape measure. It's important to give a slight allowance to avoid skin chafing, which commonly happens with reactive dogs. 

Checking the Neck Measurements 

Once you have girth measurements ready, check the neck measurements of your large breed dog too. The neck measurement should be taken around the base of the neck, in the area where a collar would sit. Remember, poor temperament may affect how your dog reacts during measurement, so proper training should be in place. 

Balance harnesses like the mighty paw sport harness or the original sport harness have dual leash attachment points at the back and the front. They provide added control for big dogs that pull, making a typical dog walking harness much more manageable. 

How to Make Sure the Harness Fits Correctly 

A correctly fitted harness is very important for a dog's well-being. It should sit comfortably without causing skin chafing or discomfort. Remember to consider your dog’s weight and make sure it aligns with the sizing chart provided by manufacturers. If you have a large reactive dog that pulls, a no- pull dog harness such as the Complete Control Harness would be recommended.

To ensure a proper fit, you should be able to fit two fingers snugly between the harness and your dog at any point. If you can’t fit two fingers under the harness, it’s too tight and may cause discomfort to your pooch. If more than two fingers can fit, it's too loose and may not provide the full range of control required. 

Remember, the aim of getting a quality harness is not only for control but also for your large dog's comfort and safety. From basic dog harness to full support dog harness, ensuring a proper fit critical for a pleasant and secure walk or run. 

Tips for Acclimating Your Large Dog to a New Harness 

When it comes to handling large breed dogs, large dog harnesses are key. But how do you acclimate your pooch to their new dog harness? It's not always easy for big dog parents, especially with a large reactive dog. Here, we offer three effective strategies: a gradual introduction, positive reinforcement, and regular training sessions. 

Gradual Introduction 

A dog harness can feel unusual to your pup initially. The trick to ensure a smooth transition with the harness is a gradual introduction. Before you add a leash and head out for a walk, allow your dog to first smell and explore the harness. Use positive reinforcement to ensure your dog isn’t uncomfortable. Remember, rushing things may result in an uncomfortable dog down the line. Find a loose leash that fits well with the harness and gradually introduce them both to your pup. 

Positive Reinforcement 

Positive reinforcement always works wonders in dog training scenarios. Whether it's for a small breed dog or a large breed dog, it’s an excellent method for helping them adjust to their new harness. 

Keep some treats handy. Every time you put on or adjust the dog harness, offer your pooch a treat. This way, they will associate the harness with positive things. 

Further, never forget to praise your dog. A little "well done" or "good job" could go a long way in boosting their confidence. So, while getting your pooch warmed up to the harness, remember to commend the progress that comes with proper training. 

Regular Training Sessions 

Proficient dog parents will always vouch for regular training sessions. Especially for big dogs, it's crucial to take time daily to practice movements with the harness. This could range from walking around the backyard to trying a full range of dog sports. 

When the dog starts getting comfortable, it can be introduced to more complex activities. For active dogs, a brief game of fetch can help them adjust to the harness quicker. 

The Choice of Harness Matters 

Among the plethora of dog harnesses out there, choosing one with quality construction can provide maximum comfort to your pet and easy control for you. Consider the above factors, ensure the harness fits well, and take time to adjust your pup to wear the gear. Your dog will appreciate the effort put into making them feel comfortable and safe during outdoor adventures. 

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