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Easy Steps: Dog Harness - How to Put On and Off

By Canada Pooch on Oct 3, 2023

In the universe of dog parentship, one of the essential components is understanding how to effectively utilize dog accessories. One of the most utilized accessories by dog parents is dog harnesses. A simple tool with powerful multipurpose utility. However, many dog parents find it challenging to utilize this tool to the fullest, considering the complexities involved in putting it on and taking it off. This article represents a comprehensive guide to enlighten dog parents about the significance of dog harnesses, different types, and easy steps to put on and off the harness, along with answering some frequently asked questions in context. 

The Importance of a Dog Harness 

Dog harnesses are crucial pieces of dog gear that play an essential role in providing optimal control and handling while also ensuring the safety and comfort of your dog. If you're a dog parent who frequently takes your pup for walks, outings to the dog show, adventures, or dog sports events, you would appreciate the convenience and versatility offered by a harness. 

What is a Dog Harness? 

A dog harness is a piece of equipment made up of straps that pass around the dog's chest and over the front legs. Unlike a conventional collar that goes around the neck, a harness is designed to distribute pressure and tension across the entire body, especially the chest and shoulders. Depending on the design, it often includes a leash attachment point, typically a front or back clip. 

Regarding pet care and dog training, harnesses are considered a more humane and safer choice, as they provide better control over your dog’s movements without risking injury to its neck or spine. Harnesses can even be used in conjunction with GPS dog trackers or tile tags for enhanced safety and tracking. 

Benefits of a Dog Harness: 

More Control Over Your Dog 

A dog harness gives you much more control over your dog when walking compared to a traditional collar and leash. With a collar, your dog can easily pull, choke themselves, and slip out. But a harness disperses pressure across their chest and shoulders, making it nearly impossible for them to slip out and more comfortable for strong pullers.

The leash attaches to a ring on the back of the harness so you can control the direction your dog moves. This prevents them from pulling ahead or lunging at distractions. You’ll have a much easier time keeping your dog by your side and stopping undesirable behaviors like jumping on passersby. 

Harnesses are especially important for powerful, large breed dogs that could easily overpower you if they tried to bolt. Harnesses eliminate the possibility of neck injuries that can happen if a dog tries to take off while wearing just a collar. 

Safety While Running or Biking 

Harnesses are very popular with people who run or bike with their dogs. They allow you to securely attach the leash to the harness so your dog can’t wiggle out of it while you're moving. This prevents dangerous situations where your off-leash dog darts into traffic. 

The harness disperses pressure and impact across their body instead of concentrating it on their neck. Your dog will be safe and comfortable while running or biking. 

Helps With Training 

Harnesses are wonderful training tools, especially for teaching loose leash walking. When your dog tries to pull forward, the harness redirects their momentum to the side instead of allowing them to forge straight ahead. 

You can use the leash to gently guide your dog back to your side. The pressure from you holding the leash mimic’s your arm around their shoulders, turning them back toward you. This feedback helps dogs learn not to pull and to stay by your side. 

Easy On, Easy Off 

Harnesses are very easy to put on your dog and take off much like a collar. They either slip over your dog’s head and clip or buckle around their body or your dog can step into them and buckle around their body. Just as easy as a collar! 

This is more comfortable for arthritic dogs or breeds with large heads relative to their necks. Older dogs often have limited flexibility or range of motion making collars difficult to put on. Harnesses eliminate that frustration and discomfort. 

Customizable Fit 

With all the different harness styles and adjustable straps, you can find a perfect fit for your dog's unique body shape. Customization prevents rubbing or chafing from an improperly fitted harness. Measure your dog before buying and look for adjustable chest and neck straps to get the right size. 

Some harnesses are specifically designed for barrel-chested, long-backed, or other uniquely shaped breeds. Shop around to find a great fitting harness customized for your dog. The right fit means maximum comfort and freedom of movement while keeping your dog secure. 

More Visibility At Night 

Some harnesses have reflective strips that make your dog much more visible at night. This is hugely important for safety if you walk or run near roads after dark. Harnesses cover a large surface area on your dog’s body so they provide better nighttime visibility compared to just a reflective collar. 

Why Use a Harness Over a Traditional Collar? 

Harnesses provide dog parents with greater control and reduce the risk of injuries, especially in dogs who tend to pull on the leash. Collars can put immense pressure on the neck, causing potential harm. In contrast, harnesses help in handling energetic dogs by providing dog parents with control without causing harm. 

Harnesses also offer increased security, as they're harder for dogs to slip out of compared to traditional collars. This makes them a preferred choice among dog parents when it comes to care options for their beloved pets. 

Different Types of Dog Harnesses 

The market is brimming with different types of harnesses, each designed to cater to different needs and dog breeds. These range from standard dog harnesses to more specific types like front clip harnesses, back clip harnesses, fashion dog harnesses, overhead harnesses, and seat belt harnesses. 

Front clip harnesses are recognized for their control and are excellent for dog training. The front clip, located on the chest, helps steer the dog, reducing pulling. Back clip harnesses, on the other hand, are ideal for calm dogs as the leash attaches to the top of the dog's back. These harnesses encourage no pulling for more energetic or stronger dogs. 

Overhead dog harnesses are slipped over the dog's head and are very comfortable once the initial fitting is done. Seat belt harnesses are a special fit dog harness type designed to keep dogs secure during car rides. 

Fashion dog harnesses are essentially standard harnesses with a touch of style and design flair. They are perfect for dog shows, ensuring your pet stands out while also staying comfortable and safe. 

Whether you're a seasoned dog parent or just stepping into dog parentship, considering these harness types will help you make an informed decision. Ultimately, remember to measure your dog using a soft measuring tape to ensure the harness you select fits correctly! 

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Put on a Dog Harness 

Ready to explore the outdoors but unsure how to put that new special fit dog harness on your furry friend? Discover the simple guide to getting your pup prepared for their walk. 

Preparing Your Dog for the Harness 

Before delving into the art of putting on a dog harness, it's vital to ensure your dog feels at ease with this piece of dog gear. Start by placing the harness close to your dog, maybe at their favorite spot, and let them sniff and familiarise themselves with it. Engage in dog training to help them associate the harness with positive experiences. 

When introducing the harness to your pup, incorporate it into their playtime, make it a prop in a dog show, or use it while they interact with other dog breeds. This exposes them to the harness and slowly makes it a familiar part of their care options. Every harness if different make sure you look at how the manufacturers recommends putting the harness on your dog when you and your pup are ready. 

Tips to Ensure The Right Fit of the Harness 

An ill-fitted harness can cause several behavioral and physical issues. Hence, ensuring the perfect fit is integral to your pet care routine. Here are some tips to ensure the right fit. 

The simplest way to check if a harness is properly fitted is by slipping two fingers between the dog's body and the dog harness's straps. If your fingers can move freely but without too much slack, it is likely a good fit.

Ensure that the harness does not chafe or rub on your dog's skin by checking the areas where the harness comes into contact with the skin, such as the dog's leg area and chest, after each walk. Also, observe your dog's comfort while they walk, run, or move in their dog harness. If they show any signs of discomfort, adjust the fit or explore other home care options. Pet care should be a top priority for every dog parent. 

Taking Off the Dog Harness Safely 

A dog harness is a crucial dog gear that gives the dog parent better control, especially those dogs participating in dog sports or dog shows. It is important to understand the technique of putting on and taking off a special fit dog harness safely to protect your pet from potential injuries and discomfort. This aspect of pet care is often overlooked, particularly among new dog parents. 

Before Removing the Harness 

Before we begin with the process of taking off the dog harness, let's look at some of the precautions that a dog parent should be aware of. First, check if the dog is calm. If your pet is overly excited or anxious, removing the harness can be more difficult. It's advised to allow the dog to cool down before proceeding with the removal. This can be done by engaging the dog in relaxing activities such as providing a gentle massage or quiet time. 

Second, examine the harness for any damages. This includes looking for any snapped clasp or frayed leash attachment. This is important because a broken or worn-out harness may cause discomfort or pain to your dog. Moreover, a faulty harness will not serve its purpose of restraining the dog properly. 

Ensure that your dog's harness fits correctly to avoid unnecessary pressure on the neck hole and the dog's chest, which can cause pain or discomfort. 

Steps to Remove the Dog Harness 

After ensuring all the necessary precautions, follow this step-by-step guide to remove the dog harness. 

Firstly, hold the harness by the back clip. The location of the back clip largely depends on the type of harness you have. Usually, for back clip harnesses and front clip harnesses, the back clip is located at the top. 

Next, unbuckle or unclip the harness. Most standard dog harnesses and fashion dog harnesses come with clip harnesses that can be unbuckled. Caution should be taken in this step not to pinch the dog’s skin. 

Then, guide the harness over the dog's head if it's an overhead harness. Alternatively, for the front clip or back clip harnesses, lift each of the dog’s front legs one at a time to gently slide and remove the harness. 

Remember, the key to removing the harness successfully and without hurting your pet is to do it slowly and gently. 

Storing the Harness Properly After Use 

Remember that pet care goes beyond feeding and grooming. It also involves taking care of your pet's gear. After removing the harness, it should be inspected once more for any signs of wear and tear. If the harness is damaged, it should be replaced. 

If the harness is dirty, clean it following the manufacturer's instructions. Store the harness in a cool, dry place out of your pet's reach. Storing the harness properly increases its durability and prevents your pet from chewing on it. 

A seat belt harness that is also often used by dog parents to restrain their dogs while driving should be stored safely in the car after use to prevent it from getting lost or damaged. 

Choosing the Right Dog Harness 

Picking the right harness for your dog involves considering factors such as the size, breed, behavior, and activities of the dog. Always use a soft measuring tape to measure your dog to ensure a perfect fit. 

Small dogs and those prone to choking benefit from back-clip harnesses, while front-clip harnesses are great for training purposes because they give more control. Consult a dog training expert for the best care options for your dog's breed. 

Remember, the safety and comfort of your pet should always be the top priority, be it in-home care or outdoor activities. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Harness Usage 

As a responsible dog parent, you likely have a plethora of questions about handling your pet care efficiently. One aspect that often leaves several pet parents puzzled is the usage of a dog harness.

How Often Should a Dog Wear a Harness? 

The frequency of wearing a harness largely depends on your dog's lifestyle and the specific activities they partake in. For dogs involved in dog sports or dog training, wearing a harness is a regular part of their routine. On the other hand, pets that are mostly indoors and participate in minimal physical activity might only require a harness during their walks or for a special outdoor dog show. 

However, one must remember that any dog gear should not be left on for an extended period as it may cause discomfort or even result in sores. As a rule of thumb, remove the harness when the dog is resting or left unattended. 

Is My Dog’s Harness Too Tight or Loose? 

A perfectly fitted dog harness is a key part of pet care. It should feel snug but never too restrictive. A good way to check is to slip two fingers beneath the harness. If you can do this comfortably, then the harness fits correctly – it is neither tight nor loose. 

Both a too tight or too loose dog harness can lead to behavioral issues and pose a potential risk for your pet. A tight harness can hurt your dog's skin or restrict its movement. A loose harness, on the other hand, may not provide proper control and might even allow your dog to escape. So, ensuring a suitable fit is crucial for your dog's comfort and safety. 

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