Is a harness the best option for you & your dog?
For smaller dogs & puppies with delicate necks or dogs who have problems, such as neck injuries, harnesses are perfect as they are a lot more comfortable for them. The other popular reason for opting for a harness is for dogs who pull. When wearing a collar dogs can choke and gag from constant pulling so a harness can help stop this by taking the pressure from the neck and placing it onto the body instead.
As with collars, it is essential a harness is fitted correctly, not only for comfort and safety (you don’t want your dog to slip out of it) but to also be effective. They should be a snug fit allowing space for 2-3 fingers under each strap, but not too tight or this may irritate and rub your dog’s skin, so a nice soft material is best.
Putting on a harness can sometimes be like doing a puzzle! Knowing which part goes where, with some going over the head whilst others need to be stepped into, make sure you read the instructions properly to get the perfect fit. Some harnesses have several places which need adjusting so check all the straps over your dog’s body. As with collars if you have a larger, stronger dog ensure the clips and hooks are welded together to withstand their strength.
When introducing your dog to wearing a harness for the first time, they may be a little reluctant to put it on. As with anything new, introduce slowy & make putting it on a fun positve experience for them.
The main differences with harnesses is where the clip is located to attach their lead. Some have this on the strap, which is on your dog’s back, others it can be found on your dog’s chest area & some both. Where their lead is attached can make a big difference in the effectiveness if using to help with pulling.
Are you are currently using a harness with the lead attached on your dog’s back, but it is not helping?
When their lead is attached here this generally will not help, in fact it can make their pulling worse. The harness straps go around their chest and rib cage area where they have a lot of power so they can use this against you and pull even harder. Think about dogs pulling sledges wearing harnesses and the strength they use.
For dogs who pull, consider investing in a harness where their lead is attached to the front chest area. This can help as, when they pull, they are automatically guided back to you.
Some harnesses have both hooks so you can use a double ended lead and have control from the back and front. Many owners have had success with harnesses while others find they have not helped. All dogs are individuals, what may work with one does not necessarily mean it will be effective for another.
There are so many harnesses on the market, some better than others so take your time in selecting the most ideal for your dog. Some may even claim to stop you dog from pulling but remember, without training a dog cannot learn to walk nicely.
Below are a couple of harness which I personally recommend to owners, both for comfort & to use as an aid while teaching their dog.
Perfect Fit - these harnesses are great as they are made of fleece, so nice & comfy, but they have several straps which can be brought individually (no need to keep buying a new harness every time your dog has a growth spurt!)
Mekuti Balance - these harnesses are used with a double ended lead and designed with the intention that your dog with become more aware of their balance which will help teach your dog to walk nicely (remember only alongside training!).
Happy at Heels - another harness option to help while you teach you dog & works differently to other harnesses. The lead attaches from the dog’s side furthest away from you and then comes across their front, to guide them back to you if they do pull.
Click this link for some other options, including Easy Walk Harnesses, & tips on lead pulling
As well as having a correctly fitted harness for walking remember your dog also needs the same for journeys in the car so they are securely fastened in!