Choosing the Right Training Harness for Your Dog

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You’ve been there – struggling to control your furry friend on walks, feeling frustrated as they pull or choke themselves.

You want the best for your pup, but finding the right training tool can be overwhelming. Say goodbye to those struggles and hello to calmer walks with the perfect training harness.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of dog harnesses and help you make an informed decision that’ll leave both you and your dog happier. You might just find yourself wondering why you didn’t make the switch sooner!

Related guides:
Picking the Perfect Dog Training Collar
Choosing the Right Dog Training Leash
Top Clickers for Dog Training

brown black and white dog wearing a harness outside

Why Choosing the Right Training Harness Matters

The right training harness can make all the difference in your dog’s training journey.

Not only does it provide better control during walks and training sessions, but it also helps prevent injuries that can occur when using a traditional collar.

By distributing pressure evenly across your dog’s chest and shoulders, a well-fitting harness reduces the risk of choking, neck strain, or long-term damage to your pup’s trachea.

Investing time in choosing the right harness is an investment in your dog’s comfort, safety, and overall well-being.

Why Use a Training Harness Instead of a Collar?

Collars have long been the standard choice for dog owners, but harnesses offer several advantages over collars when it comes to training and walking.

First, harnesses discourage pulling by giving you more control over your dog’s movements, making it easier to redirect their attention back to you.

Second, they reduce the risk of injury. Dogs that pull or lunge while wearing a collar are at a higher risk of neck injuries, tracheal collapse, and even eye problems due to increased pressure in the head. Harnesses distribute this pressure more evenly, protecting your pup’s health.

Lastly, harnesses are more comfortable for your dog, providing a snug and secure fit without restricting their breathing or movement

Types of Training Harnesses: Pros and Cons

Navigating the world of dog harnesses can be a bit daunting with so many options available. To make your decision easier, let’s break down the most common types of training harnesses, their pros and cons, and provide a personal example to help you understand their practical applications.

Front-clip harness

A front-clip harness has a leash attachment point on the chest, which provides more control when your dog pulls. This design discourages pulling by redirecting your dog’s attention back to you.

Pros: Better control, discourages pulling, suitable for training.

Cons: Can be less comfortable for dogs with sensitive skin, may not be suitable for dogs with physical limitations.

This Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a popular front-clip harness known for its durability and comfortable design, making it an excellent choice for training and everyday walks.

Personal Experience: When I first adopted Charlie, my untrained dog, he was a notorious puller. Switching to a front-clip harness was a game-changer – it made our walks much more enjoyable and helped curb his pulling habit. I highly recommend it.

Back-clip harness

The back-clip harness features a leash attachment point on the dog’s back, between the shoulder blades. This design is more comfortable for the dog and prevents tangling.

Pros: Comfortable for dogs, reduces tangling, suitable for well-behaved dogs.

Cons: Less control, not ideal for dogs that pull or need more training.

Made with a soft, breathable material, this Puppia Soft Dog Harness is perfect for dogs who prefer comfort and a tangle-free walking experience.

Dual-clip harness

A dual-clip harness offers the best of both worlds, with attachment points on both the chest and back. This versatile design allows you to switch between front and back clips based on your dog’s behavior.

Pros: Versatile, adaptable to your dog’s needs, suitable for various training stages.

Cons: Can be more expensive, may require more time for fitting and adjusting.

The versatile Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness dual-clip harness offers the convenience of both front and back attachment points, making it ideal for dogs at various training stages.

No-pull harness

A no-pull harness is specifically designed to discourage pulling by applying gentle pressure to the dog’s chest or shoulders when they try to pull. Some no-pull harnesses combine front and back clips for added versatility.

Pros: Discourages pulling, ideal for strong or stubborn dogs, may include multiple attachment points.

Cons: May not be suitable for dogs with certain physical limitations, could cause discomfort if not fitted properly.

This PetSafe Easy Walk Harness is designed to gently discourage pulling, making it a great option for strong or stubborn dogs that need a little extra guidance.

Personal Experience:

Sam, my well-trained dog, used to be quite stubborn on our walks. Switching to a no-pull harness made a significant difference, and he now walks calmly by my side. The key was to ensure the harness was properly fitted, so he was comfortable and could enjoy our walks.

Here is a table summarizing the different types of harnesses, their suitability, and a recommended product for each:

Harness TypeMost Suitable ForRecommended Product
Front-clip harnessBetter control, discourages pullingRuffwear Front Range Harness
Back-clip harnessComfort, reduced tanglingPuppia Soft Dog Harness
Dual-clip harnessVersatility, various training stagesKurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness
No-pull harnessDiscouraging pulling, strong or stubborn dogsPetSafe Easy Walk Harness
corgi dog wearing a harness on a leash outside

How to Choose the Best Harness for Your Dog

Selecting the best training harness for your dog might seem overwhelming, but with a little guidance, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect fit. Let’s explore some factors to consider when choosing a harness that will meet your dog’s needs and make your training sessions more enjoyable and productive.

Consider Your Dog’s Size and Breed

Different breeds have unique body shapes and sizes, which can affect the fit and functionality of a harness.

For example, this Ruffwear Front Range Harness is an excellent option for Labradors due to its durability and adjustability, while this Puppia Soft Dog Harness is perfect for Italian Greyhounds as it’s lightweight and gentle on their delicate skin.”

Here are suggested harness types based on the dog’s size and strength:

Dog Size/BreedSuggested Harness TypeReason
Small/Slender BreedBack-clip harnessEnsures a better fit and prevents discomfort
Large/Muscular BreedFront-clip or No-pull harnessProvides better control and discourages pulling

Evaluate Your Training Goals

Your training goals will play a significant role in determining the type of harness that’s best for your dog.

If you’re working on loose-leash walking and addressing pulling behavior, a front-clip or no-pull harness might be the best choice. For well-behaved dogs that don’t pull, a back-clip harness could be more appropriate.

Here are suggested harness types based on your training goals:

Training GoalSuggested Harness TypeReason
Loose-leash walking, addressing pulling behaviorFront-clip or No-pull harnessOffers control and discourages pulling
Well-behaved dogs that don’t pullBack-clip harnessProvides comfort and reduces tangling

Think About Your Environment

Consider the environment where you’ll be walking or training your dog.

If you often walk in low-light conditions or near traffic, a harness with reflective material like this Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness can improve visibility and safety. For dogs that love water, look for a harness made from quick-drying materials that resist odor and mildew, such as this Ruffwear Float Coat Harness.

Suggested harness features based on your environment:

EnvironmentSuggested Harness FeatureReason
Low-light conditions, near trafficReflective materialImproves visibility and safety
Water activitiesQuick-drying materialsResists odor and mildew, ensures durability

Prioritize Comfort and Fit

Look for harnesses with adjustable straps, padded areas, and ergonomic designs that won’t rub or cause discomfort. Be sure to measure your dog and follow the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines to ensure the perfect fit.

When measuring your dog, make sure they are standing in a natural position to ensure accurate measurements. Additionally, it’s helpful to measure at least twice to confirm the numbers, as slight variations can impact the harness fit. Check the “Fitting the Harness” section below for instructions on how to measure your dog for harness.

We suggest these harness features in regard to your dog’s comfort:

Dog Comfort NeedSuggested Harness FeatureReason
Adjustable fitAdjustable strapsEnsures a comfortable and secure fit
Preventing discomfortPadded areasReduces rubbing or chafing

Harness Material and Durability

A high-quality harness should be made from durable materials that can withstand daily use and resist wear and tear.

Look for harnesses made from strong, weather-resistant materials like nylon, neoprene, or leather. Metal hardware is typically more durable than plastic, but consider your dog’s size and strength when choosing.

Suggested harness material:

Material ConsiderationSuggested Harness MaterialReason
Weather resistanceNylon, neoprene, or leatherEnsures durability and longevity
Hardware durabilityMetal hardwareProvides better strength than plastic hardware

Personal Experience:

When I first brought home Charlie, my untrained dog, I was unsure about which harness would work best for him. After evaluating my training goals, considering our walking environment, and prioritizing his comfort, I chose a front-clip harness made of durable materials with reflective elements for nighttime visibility. The extra time spent researching paid off – Charlie’s walks became more enjoyable, and his training improved significantly.
white and gray senior dog wearing a harness outside on a leash

What Training Exercises Require Specific Harnesses?

Different training exercises may require specific harness types to ensure the best results and maintain your dog’s comfort and safety. Let’s explore some common training exercises and the harnesses that work well for each:

  • Loose Leash Walking. For dogs that pull or are still learning to walk calmly on a leash, a front-clip or no-pull harness is an excellent choice. These harnesses provide more control and discourage pulling by redirecting your dog’s attention back to you.
  • Recall Training. Recall training focuses on teaching your dog to come when called. In this case, a back-clip harness is a suitable option as it allows for unrestricted movement and does not apply pressure on the chest when the dog moves towards you. A dual-clip harness with the leash attached to the back clip can also work well.
  • Agility Training. Agility training involves teaching your dog to navigate a series of obstacles, such as jumps, tunnels, and weave poles. A back-clip harness is ideal for this type of training, as it allows for a full range of motion and does not impede your dog’s movements. A snug fit is crucial to prevent the harness from shifting or getting caught on equipment during training.

Here’s a table summarizing suggested harnesses for each type of exercise:

Training ExerciseHarness TypeReason
Loose Leash WalkingFront-clip or no-pullMore control, discourages pulling
Recall TrainingBack-clip or dual-clipUnrestricted movement, no chest pressure
Agility TrainingBack-clipFull range of motion, doesn’t impede movement

By matching the appropriate harness type to your dog’s specific training exercises, you’ll ensure a more effective and enjoyable experience for both you and your pup.

Fitting the Harness: Ensuring a Comfortable and Secure Fit

Getting the perfect fit for your dog’s harness is crucial to ensure their comfort and safety during training. A well-fitted harness will prevent chafing, slipping, and discomfort while giving you better control over your dog. Here’s how to achieve a comfortable and secure fit:

  • Measuring your dog for a harness. Begin by taking accurate measurements of your dog’s girth and neck circumference. Use a soft measuring tape and wrap it around the widest part of their chest, just behind the front legs. For the neck, measure around the base where the collar usually sits. Keep a record of these measurements to help you choose the right harness size.
  • Adjusting straps and buckles for an optimal fit. Once you have the harness, place it on your dog and adjust the straps and buckles to ensure a snug but comfortable fit. You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog’s skin, ensuring it’s not too tight or too loose. Regularly check and readjust the fit as needed, especially as your dog grows or if their weight changes.

I remember when I first tried fitting a harness on my dog, Charlie. He was quite fidgety, making it difficult to get the measurements just right. However, with a bit of patience and some tasty treats, I managed to get accurate measurements and found a harness that fit him comfortably.

Might be interested: Top Training Aids for Dog Leash-Pulling

Tips for Introducing Your Dog to the Harness

Introducing a new harness to your dog may require some patience and positive reinforcement. Here are some helpful tips for easing your dog into their new training gear:

  1. Start slow. Begin by showing the harness to your dog and allowing them to sniff and investigate it. You can also reward them with treats and praise to create positive associations with the harness.
  2. Gradually introduce the harness. Place the harness on your dog for short periods, gradually increasing the duration over time. Praise them and provide treats throughout the process to reinforce their positive experience with the harness.
  3. Incorporate the harness into training sessions. Once your dog is comfortable wearing the harness, start incorporating it into your training sessions. This will help them understand that the harness is a tool for learning and not something to fear.

When I introduced Sam, my well-trained dog, to his first harness, he was initially hesitant. I took it slow and rewarded him with his favorite treats as he got used to wearing it. Soon enough, he was happily trotting along in his new harness, ready for our next adventure together.

Here’s an easy-to-follow video from Kikopup on easily getting your dog used to a harness:


How do I clean and maintain a training harness?

To clean and maintain a training harness, follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, which may include hand washing, machine washing, or wiping it down with a damp cloth. Regularly inspect the harness for signs of wear and tear and address any issues promptly.

Is it safe to leave a harness on my dog all the time?

It is not recommended to leave a harness on your dog all the time, as it can cause chafing, matting of fur, and discomfort. Remove the harness when your dog is indoors or not actively participating in training or exercise.

Can I use a harness for other types of training?

Yes, a harness can be used for various types of training, including loose leash walking, recall training, and agility training. Choose a harness that best suits your dog’s needs and the specific training goals you have in mind.

How do I know when it’s time to replace the harness?

It’s time to replace the harness when you notice significant damage, such as torn fabric or broken buckles, or if your dog’s size or training needs change.

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