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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Dog Harness

By Canada Pooch on Sep 24, 2023

For dog owners, one of the most significant purchases you'll make for your pup is a quality dog harness. The harness plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety, control, and comfort of your dog during walks and other activities. If you're looking to purchase a reliable harness for your pup, here's our guide to finding the best fit. 

Understanding the Importance of Dog Harnesses 

As a dog owner, you know the immense joy of taking your pooch on outdoor adventures. But have you considered the importance of choosing the right dog harness for your active pup? 

Safety and control when out and about 

Dog harnesses offer not only safety but also good control, especially for active pups. Vest harnesses do not pull your dog’s throat and can discourage pulling behavior by distributing pulling force across the chest and back. Moreover, many feature reflective strips for greater visibility in low-light conditions. 

Reducing pulling and tugging 

Dog harnesses are designed to discourage pulling behavior. The front clip harnesses and no-pull dog harnesses turn your dog towards you every time they try to pull, making it a natural training mechanism. Remember, it's essential to pick the correct dog harness size for this! 

Beneficial for dogs with medical conditions 

Dog harnesses can also be beneficial for dogs with respiratory or throat problems. Harnesses made with soft and sturdy materials provide comfort and support for your pup while venturing into the great outdoors. A durable dog harness, such as a head strap or step-in harness, can provide the required support for your pup. 

Different Types of Dog Harnesses 

Selecting the right dog harness involves understanding different types of harnesses and their suitability to your pup. Here are some commonly used dog harnesses: 

Back Clip Harness 

Back clip harnesses are secure and comfortable for your pooch. These tend to be most appropriate for small dog harnesses, as they do not give the same control to large dog harnesses. The leash attachment at the back of your dog prevents pulling force from concentrating on the dog's neck and throat. 

Front Clip Harness 

Front clip or chest-led harnesses give good control over your dog's direction as they work by turning your dog towards you every time they pull. These harnesses tend to provide better control for large, powerful dog and can discourage any pulling behavior, ensuring a more peaceful walk for both you and your dog. 

Dual Clip Harness 

Dual clip harnesses offer both front and back leash attachment options, allowing flexibility, especially while exploring harness attachments. A word of caution though, these can command a higher price and require a customized fit for your dog's breed and size. 

Step-in Harness 

Step-in harnesses are tied around the chest and behind the front legs, making them ideal for dogs who fear objects moving towards their head. However, they need a proper fitting, as the wrong dog harness sizing can cause chafing and discomfort to your pet. 

Vest Harness 

Vest harnesses wrap around your dog’s body providing a snug fit, ensuring good control while not restricting the dog's natural movement. They are typically ideal for small dog harnesses. Notably, most vest harnesses feature a handle attachment, which aids in control and support for your pup. 

Key Factors to Consider When Selecting a Dog Harness 

The Size and Breed of Your Dog 

The first factor to consider for dog harness sizing is the size and breed of your dog. Smaller breeds typically overheat easily so a vest harness made from a breathable material like mesh would be a good fit. On the other hand, larger breeds with more pulling force may need a durable dog harness like the strap harness. If your dog is a strong puller, such as a Husky or Boxer, look for a harness that discourages pulling behavior. An important factor to get the proper harness size is your dog’s weight. Make sure you compare your dog’s weight to the manufacturer’s size guide to ensure a comfortable and safe harness for your pup. 

The Comfort and Material of The Harness 

Another factor to consider is the comfort and material of the harness. Padded harnesses tend to offer more comfort and less direct pressure on your dog's body. Materials also matter, with options ranging from nylon webbing to leather. Some harnesses feature reflective strips making them perfect for evening walks. It's crucial to remember that just because a harness is higher in price, it doesn’t mean it's more comfortable for your dog. 

The Adjustability and Ease of Use 

Good control is also necessary when exploring harness attachments. The back clip harness is usually ideal for dogs who behave well on walks. If you have an active dog who loves to dart around, the front attachment harness provides more control. Furthermore, a handle attachment harness offers good control for dogs who jostle and pull, as it can secure your dog both in the car and on walks. 

Reflectivity and Visibility for Night Walks 

If you are into nighttime walks, the light conditions matter. Some dog harnesses are equipped with reflective strips that provide a safety feature for your dog in low-light conditions. 

Caring for Your Dog's Harness 

Once you've chosen the right harness, it's time to remember that care and maintenance for the harness are important to keep your dog comfortable and safe. 

Cleaning and Maintenance 

Most harnesses made from synthetic materials can be easily cleaned with a wet cloth or even machine-washed if necessary, make sure you air dry to not warp buckles or clips. However, leather harnesses need more care and regular application of leather conditioner to maintain their quality and durability. 

When to Replace the Harness 

A quality, durable harness will withstand a lot of activity from your dog. However, after prolonged usage, you would need to look for signs of wear and tear such as fraying edges, loose stitches, or broken buckles. When you observe these signs, it's time to replace your harness. 

Ensuring the Harness Fit Remains Optimal 

Finally, regular checks and adjustments are needed to ensure the harness fit remains optimal. Harnesses tend to loosen over time, so check periodically and adjust accordingly to make sure your dog is always secure and comfortable. 

Advancing Beyond the Harness: Training Your Dog to Walk Well 

To fully enjoy the great outdoors with your pooch, good control is essential, and a durable dog harness can provide that. But another crucial aspect of dog harness sizing is training. Your dog’s behavior, from walking neatly to discouraging pulling behavior, can be improved with proper training. So, let’s dive into the ultimate guide to training your dog to walk well. 

Command Training for Walking 

Command training forms the foundation for any active pup. Just like selecting the right dog harness size, choosing the right command words is equally important. Use simple, short commands like “Stop,” “Sit,” “Stay,” etc. Repetition and consistency are key here. 

For instance, every time your pup pulls on the strap harness, stop walking immediately and command “Stop” or “No Pull.” Be sure to continue the walk only when the pulling force ceases. This can take time and patience, but eventually, your dog will understand this command and its consequences. 

Reward-Based Training Techniques 

Reward-based training is another effective technique that can discourage pulling behavior on the no pull dog harness. Positive reinforcement encourages good behavior in dogs. Whenever your dog walks nicely without pulling on the harness, reward them with treats or praise. This makes the experience enjoyable for both the dog owner and their active dog. 

Using a no pull harness or even small dog harnesses, it's key to reward immediately after the desired behavior is exhibited. The timing of rewards plays a crucial role in creating a strong association between the behavior and positive outcomes. So always keep some treats handy during the training sessions. 

Involving a Professional Dog Trainer 

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your pooch might still struggle with leash behavior. In such cases, it's always helpful to involve a professional dog trainer. They can provide some expert insights on choosing the right harnesses like whether to choose a front clip or back clip harness, a head strap, or vest harnesses. They can break down the training process into smaller, manageable steps and ensure good leash etiquette. 


In closing, selecting the perfect dog harness for your beloved pup requires careful consideration of factors like size, breed, temperament, and intended use. While there are many types to choose from, focus on finding one that maximizes control and safety without restricting natural movement. Regularly check the fit and condition of the harness as dogs grow and their needs change. Invest time into positive reinforcement training along with the right harness to discourage pulling and build good leash manners. With the proper harness fit paired with consistent training, you and your dog will be equipped for countless memorable adventures together. The key is matching the harness design to your individual dog’s needs, so walks are comfortable, secure, and enjoyable for all. 

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