Choosing the Right Harness for Your Dog

A Guide to Choosing the Right Harness for Your Dog

Having control of your dog on walks is essential for a happy dog and a happy owner, and the right type of walking equipment can help. Body harnesses are a great tool because of the comfort they afford the dog and the ease with which most dogs adjust to them. There are hundreds of such harnesses available, many of which vary in style and function. With the wide variety to choose from, how do you find the right fit for your dog?

Here’s a breakdown of the three basic types of harnesses and the uses they are best for, such as reducing pulling or providing safety for small dogs. Read on to find the right harness for your dog.


1) Traditional Back-Clip Harness
On the back-clip harness, the ring that the lead clips onto is located on the top of the dog’s back. Back-clip harnesses are the most agreeable type of walking equipment for many dogs to adjust to. The harnesses are especially useful for small dogs with delicate throats, which may be damaged by collars. Back-clip harnesses are for calm dogs trained not to pull on the lead, as the design does little to discourage pulling. When back-clip harnesses are used with an untrained dog who likes to pull, they create a sled-pulling action, with the owner dragged along in place of the sled.


  • They are easy to put on and comfortable for a dog to wear.
  • The lead doesn’t tangle under the front legs as often as with collars or front-clip harnesses.
  • They protect the fragile neck area.


They offer little control if a dog has behavior issues, such as pulling on the lead, jumping up or displaying aggression.

2) Front-Clip Harness

Front-clip harnesses have the lead attachment in the center of the dog’s chest. Trainers often choose front-clip harnesses in order to reduce how much a dog can pull on the lead. The chest clip gives the owner control over the direction the dog is moving and allows for the dog to be redirected to face the owner if needed.


  • They give more control over pulling on the lead, jumping up or other poor lead behaviour.
  • They provide directional steering, helping the dog to be turned around when needed.


  • Although front-clip harnesses provide more control than most traditional collars or back-clip harnesses, dogs with serious behavior issues, such as aggression, may still need a walking tool offering additional control, such as a head halter.
  • The lead on the front of the chest can tangle under the dog’s front legs if too much slack is given.


3) Tightening Harness
There are variations of the body harnesses that will tighten and add pressure if the dog pulls. The slight tightening can be uncomfortable for the dog,  causing them to reduce or entirely stop pulling.

The tightening harnesses can be beneficial for hindering pulling in the more determined pet. However, it’s essential to check on the type of tightening the harness causes, as some variations can cause a sharp pain when the dog pulls, which is not recommended. If you use a harness that tightens, ensure it is a gentle, non-pain-inducing pressure. Pain-inducing harnesses should be avoided because pain is associated with a host of risks, including increased aggression.


  • Most harnesses that add slight pressure to a dog when he pulls don’t cause pain, making them a valuable device for persistent pullers.
  • They are generally easy to put on a dog.
  • It can also be a lifelong management tool if the owner prefers to walk his dog in a harness rather than a collar.


  • As with most pull-discouraging devices, the dog doesn’t necessarily learn to walk on a loose lead. Instead, they learn not to pull in that specific type of walking equipment. For this reason, a tightening harness is simply a training tool to use while you’re training your dog to walk on a loose lead.
  • Some tightening harnesses can cause pain. Pain can create negative associations with the harness and surrounding elements, such as other dogs and people.


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