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Traveling with Your Pup: Secure Them with a Travel-Friendly Harness

By Canada Pooch on Oct 3, 2023

Planning a trip with your dog? A quality travel harness is a must-have for keeping your pup safe and secure on the go. When used properly, harnesses are vastly superior to collars for reducing pulling, preventing escape, and protecting your dog's neck during travel near and far. 

This guide will cover the benefits of travel harnesses compared to collars, the various types and features to look for, proper fitting and use, introductory training tips, car and air travel safety, and essential accessories for hitting the road with your harnessed dog. Follow these tips to find the best travel-ready harness for your pooch. 

Why Choose a Harness Over a Collar for Travel? 

Harnesses offer several advantages when traveling with dogs compared to collars alone: 

Safer Control and Reduced Pulling 

A sturdy, snug harness gives you much greater control over your dog's movements compared to a collar. This is crucially important in crowded, distracting travel environments like busy airports. Dogs naturally lunge, pull, and leap when overstimulated. Harnesses take pressure off the neck and disperse it more safely over the shoulders and torso.This allows for more comfortable guidance and restraint without pressure. 

Neck Protection 

Harnesses strategically move this intense guiding and restraining pressure off the neck, dispersing forces over the stronger chest and shoulders. This provides much better protection for dogs who pull and lunge, greatly reducing the risk of strains, sprains, crushed tracheas, and other injuries in the neck region. The extra safety and injury prevention is invaluable during travel situations where dogs are often overstimulated. Protect your dog’s vulnerable neck with a properly fitted harness. 

Added Visibility 

Many dog harnesses come equipped with reflective strips, bright colors to keep your pup well-illuminated at night. This extra visibility offers added security when traveling or exploring with your dog after dark. The reflective elements shine brightly when illuminated by headlights, flashlights, and other light sources. This helps motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians pinpoint your dog’s location, preventing dangerous collisions. The high visibility allows pet parents to always keep an eye on their dogs, even in low light. Added peace of mind if enjoying nighttime adventures together. A good choice for a reflective harness is the Canada Pooch Everything Harness in Mesh that comes in a reflective colorway.

Types of Travel Dog Harnesses 

There are a few main types and styles of travel dog harnesses to consider: 

Back-Clip Harnesses 

These ubiquitous standard harnesses attach the leash to a metal ring located on the dog’s upper back near their shoulder blades. This back-clip design helps naturally discourage pulling, as it causes dogs to turn back toward you when they try to lunge and reach the end of the leash. The leverage generated from the upper back connection redirects your dog’s momentum for better control. These traditional models work excellently as all-purpose walking and hiking harnesses. They provide a sturdy attachment point for securing your dog in the car as well. Back-clip harnesses are simple, affordable, and get the job done for all forms of travel. 

Front-Clip Harnesses 

Also called head halter harnesses, these models attach the leash to a metal ring located at the center of the dog's chest. This front-leash connection provides maximum steering control over dogs that pull excessively on leash. When they lunge forward, the leash automatically turns them back around towards you from the front. This built-in guidance curbs the pulling impulse and trains dogs to walk calmly at your side. Front-clip harnesses work like a charm for discouraging leash pulling, especially amid the distractions of travel. They give you excellent handling control without discomfort from choking or neck strain. 

Multi-Use/Hybrid Harnesses 

These hybrid harnesses give you multiple attachment points and configuration options for different on-the-go purposes. They feature both a front clip for no-pull training and a back clip for standard walking. Many also have built-in seat belt straps and rings for securing your dog safely in the car. The ability to clip leashes from the front or back plus connect to restraints makes these harnesses super adaptable for all travel contexts. There is no need to switch between harness types. The convenience can’t be beat! The Everything Harness and Complete Control Harness both have multiple attachments points making them a great choice for many dogs. 

Fitting and Adjusting a Harness Properly 

An ideal harness fits snugly without limiting movement or causing discomfort. Follow these tips for getting a proper fit: 

  • Measure your dog's neck and chest girth behind their armpits. Refer to sizing charts and size up if between sizes. Also take into account your dog’s weight to make sure the harness is safe for them. 
  • Adjust straps gradually, testing for snugness. You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and the dog. 
  • Make sure buckles and adjusters are centered on the back and chest. Straps should lay flat. 
  • Double-check for rubbing spots and loose areas, tightening as needed. Allow your dog to walk and move to ensure comfort. 
  • Recheck fit regularly, especially during periods of growth or weight gain/loss. Proper adjustment ensures security. 

A harness that is fitted correctly will keep your dog secure while allowing a full range of motion and comfort on the move. 

Prioritizing these qualities will provide your dog the safest and most comfortable travel experience while keeping them under your control. 

Introducing Your Dog to a Harness 

The first time wearing a harness can be a strange sensation for some dogs. Make the introduction positive and rewarding: 

  • Let them inspect and sniff the harness to build comfort through familiarity. Give treats for interacting with it. 
  • Place the harness on your dog in calm environments to associate it with relaxation. Keep sessions brief. 
  • Give treats and praise when they allow you to secure the harness. Repeat this step until they are comfortable being harnessed. 
  • Take your first walks in the harness in low-distraction areas until your dog adjusts to the new feeling. Keep them focused on you, not the harness. 
  • Randomly reward your pup for calm behavior in their harness so they associate it with positivity. 

With persistence and positive association, your dog will get fully acclimated to wearing their travel harness comfortably. 

Car Travel Safety Tips 

Dogs should never roam freely in vehicles. Follow these tips for securing them properly: 

  • Properly adjust harness straps snugly so your dog has little range of motion. Test security. 
  • Ventilation and water access is key on long drives. Monitor for overheating. 
  • Create positive car associations with rewards. Use their favorite treats and toys so they feel content. 
  • Initiate restraint training gradually. Reinforce calm behavior in their secured spot with praise. 
  • Supervise closely and stop if chewing restraints.

Your dog can travel safely and happily on any road trip with training and the right harness. 

Air Travel Tips for Harnessed Dogs 

Flying with your leashed or harnessed dog? Be sure to: 

  • Check airline rules for in-cabin pets. Some allow small dogs in harnesses or carriers. 
  • Get an airport lead certified for security screening. Regular leashes may set off metal detectors. 
  • Make sure the harness fits under the seat in front for under-seat pet travel. 
  • Attach temporary tags with your contact info in case you're separated. 
  • Bring absorbent potty training pads for accidents. Be prepared if your pup struggles to hold their bladder. 
  • Use an airline-approved carrier for the plane if required. Check sizing/ventilation rules. 
  • Ask for early boarding to get pets settled first. Bookmark your seat to keep it nearby when possible. 

Planning ahead helps ease air travel stress for dogs. With the right harness and restraints, you can smoothly fly the friendly skies together. 

A quality, well-fitted dog travel harness keeps your faithful companion safe and secure on the go. Choose an adjustable, durable harness with reflective elements and restraint capability for the optimal solution. Properly introduce your pup to wearing their new harness through positive training. Supplement with sturdy accessories to make your adventures smooth and fun from departure to dog-tired return. With the right preparation, you and your canine co-pilot will enjoy discovering the world together. Happy trails! 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What size dog harness should I get? 

Refer to sizing charts based on your dog's chest and neck measurements and weight. When between sizes, size up for adjustability. The right fit is snug but not restrictive. 

How do I stop my dog from pulling in a harness? 

Use front-clip harnesses to discourage pulling by steering the dog back toward you. Proper leash handling technique also helps. Reward and reinforce your pup when they walk calmly beside you without pulling. 

Are harnesses or collars better for dogs? 

Harnesses are overwhelmingly safer and more comfortable than collars alone, especially for travel. Harnesses reduce injury risk from pulling/lunging and give you better control over your dog's movements. 

Can I leave my dog's harness on all day? 

Avoid leaving a harness on for extended periods, as this can cause chafing. Use for walks, travel, or brief training sessions, then remove. Dogs shouldn't wear harnesses unsupervised or for lounging around the house. 

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