Dog harnesses are a safe option when walking your dog because they put pressure on your furry friend’s chest, instead of the neck. They are a useful reminder for your dog not to pull and help prevent them from doing so.
In essence, they give you more control over your dog but do so in a gentle way. Using a harness with a leash can also be a healthier option than using a collar with a leash, depending on your dog. The most important thing is that yours fits your dog and is comfortable for him to wear.
With that said, a dog harness isn’t a replacement for a traditional collar, which, among other things, allows you to attach ID and medical tags to it. Using both is a sensible option, and you can connect harnesses to collars.
Read on to learn more about what to look for in a dog harness and tips for using them safely. You can also check out reviews of our top picks too.
Our Top Picks: Summary
- Best Overall: Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
- Best for Pulling: 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness
- Best for Small Dogs: Puppia Dog Harness
- Most Durable: Ruffwear Front Range Harness
Best Overall: Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
Intended for medium to large dogs, it’s an over-the-head (no-pull) harness that hits all the right notes.$17.98
Why we Picked It
Our best overall dog harness is the Rabbitgoo. Intended for medium to large dogs, such as huskies, golden retrievers, and German shepherds, it’s an over-the-head (no-pull) harness that hits all the right notes.
It features two metal leash rings, one for the chest and the other for the back. The chest attachment is ideal for training your dog not to pull during walks. The back attachment is more suited to short walks and hiking. We love that you get the option of both here.
With two fast-release buckles, you can slide the harness over your dog’s head, buckle it, and then adjust the straps. Rabbitgoo has made sure that the design is lightweight and easy-to-use.
The harness features four straps for fitting around the body. There are two neck straps and two for the chest, affording you a good deal of flexibility to get the perfect fit. Getting the fit right is crucial to prevent your dog from slipping out or feeling uncomfortable.
The harness uses a durable Nylon Oxford that is padded with soft cushion to protect your canine’s skin. If that wasn’t enough, there are reflective strips that mean walking at night is also much safer—brilliant!
Keep in Mind
Some customers have mentioned that the fabric frays easily, so as with any product, you need to look after it.
In a Nutshell
- Great value for money
- Two leash rings
- Easily adjusted
Best for Pulling: 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness
2 Hounds Freedom Harness
If you have a very active or vigorous dog, then the 2 Hounds Design harness is an excellent option.$30.58
Why we Picked It
If you have a very active or vigorous dog, then the 2 Hounds Design harness is an excellent option.
It features a martingale loop on the back that tightens gently around your dog’s chest to prevent and deter pulling. There’s also a front loop for some extra control. With four points that allow you to adjust the harness, it’s suitable for all types of dogs.
We’re pleased that there’s a ring on the front of the chest for an additional point of control. This point will allow you to effectively steer and redirect your dog, which is ideal for training!
You can use a double-ended leash with the harness that allows you to connect to the front and back too.
For dogs that pull, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the 2 Hounds Design harness.
Keep in Mind
A no-pull harness is a useful tool, but it doesn’t replace proper training—a combination of both is critical.
In a Nutshell
- Perfect for active dogs
- High level of adjustability
- Swiss velvet lining
Best for Small Dogs: Puppia Dog Harness
Puppia Dog Harness
It’s perfect for both small dogs and puppies.$15.94
Why we Picked It
Are you a small dog owner? Then the Puppia dog harness is the answer. It’s perfect for both small dogs and puppies.
With its adjustable chest belt and quick-release buckle, the Puppia harness is all about ease-of-use and comfort. You place it over your furry friend’s head, and it buckles around the rib cage. When fit correctly, the harness works to reduce pinch points as the surface area is around the chest, shoulders, and neck.
The Puppia dog harness is made from a high-quality air-mesh material that provides breathability, and it’s water repellent too. The buckles themselves consist of a lightweight synthetic plastic that is highly durable and reliable in extreme weather conditions.
It comes in a wide variety of colors, and there is a choice of sizes available.
Keep in Mind
The harness is machine washable, but hand washing and air drying are better options.
In a Nutshell
- Lightweight synthetic plastic buckles
- Adjustable chest belt
- High-quality air-mesh material
Most Durable: Ruffwear Front Range Harness
Lightweight, durable, and made for long adventures with your pooch.$37.50
Why we Picked It
In terms of durability, none can match the Ruffwear front range harness. It’s been designed for extended wear and is lightweight, durable, and made for long adventures with your pooch.
With four points of adjustment and access to an ID pocket for safe storage of your dog’s tags, it’s a well-thought-out product.
The Ruffwear features two leash attachment points with reinforced webbing at the chest, and an aluminum V-ring found on the back. In other words, it offers additional control for owners and would be ideal for training.
Your dog should feel comfortable with the harness’ foam-padded strips across the chest and belly that provide an equal load distribution. Whether your walking, resting or even running, the harness has you covered.
The fabric is also bright and easily visible with reflective trims that help your dog stand out both day and night.
Keep in Mind
Some dogs don’t like harnesses that go over their heads, so keep that in mind.
In a Nutshell
- Customizable fit
- Lightweight and durable
- Reflective trims
How We Chose the Best Dog Harnesses
When we picked the best dog harnesses, we looked at five key areas to help inform our list. We focused on attachment rings, the durability of the harness, adjustability, safety considerations, what current customers think about the products.
Without further ado, here are the five areas:
We prioritized dog harnesses with both back and chest attachment rings, as these allow for better control and versatility. For dogs prone to pulling, a back harness can indicate to the dog that it should pull harder. By having both back and chest rings, you can prevent by training your dog with the chest attachment. Dogs follow where their noses and chests go, so a chest attachment can help give you better control.
Harnesses with two attachment points even offer the ability to attach two leashes for dogs who may be overpowering.
We looked for dog harnesses that feature strong attachment points able to withstand the test of time. Dogs can be highly active and forceful, so a harness must remain secure under strain. The materials used in the harness should be both durable and easy to clean. The best harnesses won’t need the aid of cleaning products either. Instead, a basic wash with regular detergent will keep them clean.
A harness that doesn’t fit properly isn’t desirable for owners and their furry friends. It should be easy to adjust and available in a variety of sizes to accommodate different kinds of dogs. The ideal harness will include multiple adjustment points for a proper fit and clips for leashes. We only picked harnesses that offer flexibility and excellent value for customers.
Safety is one of the most important areas we looked at with dog harnesses. We eliminated any harnesses that had red flags in terms of safety. Key safety concerns include if the harness puts pressure on the neck or throat of the dog. This stress can lead to damage in the windpipe, constricting blood vessels and increasing eye pressure.
In reality, dog harnesses shouldn’t need to come close to the throat to operate effectively, so we only looked at designs that don’t.
Customer reviews give us a snapshot of public opinion on how well a product does what it claims to do. We looked at a wide range of reviews to ensure we had a fair representation across the board. Specifically, we looked at how well the dog harness fared after being used for a while, how easy the customer found it to clean, and the level of adjustability it offered.
Brands that cut corners or who have provided a reduced level of customer service will not make our list.
Do I Need a Dog Harness?
A harness isn’t necessary for every dog, but it can be a healthier way to walk your special friend. Here are some of the key benefits for using a dog harness:
- Pulling is discouraged with a harness because there is no advantage for the dog to do so. When a dog pulls with a harness, it results in little more than his front legs lifting off the ground. Dogs quickly realize this and typically stop pulling.
- When dogs get distracted, they can put themselves in danger. With a harness, the dog is controlled at all times, preventing her from getting lost and potential injury.
- Harnesses are great for puppies and very small dogs who might hurt their smaller bodies while pulling on a traditional collar and leash.
- There is a better overall control of your dog, which is especially important in large crowds and busy roads. Large dogs find it more difficult to cause problems too.
- A harness will prevent your dog from jumping up at people around it.
Proper training is also crucial. A dog harness won’t solve the problem of bad behaviour. You should pair training with the use of a harness for the best results.
Some training tips include the following:
- Reward good behaviour with positive reinforcement—this will help your dog to learn right from wrong.
- Discourage jumping behaviour by showing no attention, and don’t praise him or her for doing so.
- Make your dog as comfortable as possible at home. Allowing him to relax in a safe, welcoming, and friendly environment breeds respect between you and your dog.
What to Consider When Choosing a Dog Harness
Before you set your heart on buying a dog harness, it’s best to think about a few things first. The size of your dog is critical, as is its temperament. You’ll also need to consider cleaning your harness and the intended purpose of buying one.
Here are four areas to consider:
Ensuring the proper fit for your harness is crucial. You need to be sure you choose one that can be adjusted to fit your particular dog. Think about your furry friend, his build, and if he has any special needs.
For example, short-nosed dogs have narrow nostrils and have difficulty breathing under stress. A harness in this scenario would work well because it shouldn’t put additional pressure on the throat. The ideal dog harness won’t rub under the arms and will prevent escapes from occurring too.
Think carefully about what’s right for the size of your dog.
The temperament of a dog can determine whether she pulls or lunges on walks and how often. These dogs will benefit the most from training with a chest attachment point.
Sometimes known as no-pull harnesses, these harnesses will help you to control your dog as you will be able to guide her with a leash attached to the chest ring. These harnesses work well because you place the point of control around your dog’s center of gravity rather than at the neck. That means you’re able to direct her, resulting in more enjoyable walks for both of you.
A harness is in use frequently, so it’s going to get dirty quickly. You’ll want to ensure that the harness you opt for is easy to clean, especially if you have a very active dog.
An active dog is more likely to come into contact with mud and slush on your adventures. Some harnesses include materials that are easy to clean, while others are machine washable to make things easier. Think about how much time you have to clean a dog harness, how active your dog is, and how important it is for you that it’s easy to clean.
You need to ask yourself the intended purpose of buying a dog harness in the first place.
Is it, for instance, primarily for training your dog and improving past behavior? Or, on the other hand, will the harness you purchase be in use for an extended period, such as regular daily walks over many years?
Do you have a large dog or a smaller one? Perhaps your dog needs some assistance standing after he’s been lying down? Or maybe it’s for a puppy that hasn’t learned how to walk on a lead yet?
If you know the intention of the dog harness, you’ll be able to think with more clarity on which one is right for you.
Dog Harness Safety
Using a dog harness safely is vital. While we’ve spoken about the many benefits of buying one, it’s fair to say that they come with some dangers as well.
Here are some tips to keep your dog safe:
- If the harness you buy doesn’t fit your dog correctly, there is a risk of chest injury if the dog pulls. To prevent this, ensure that the harness isn’t too tight around the shoulders or chest as the dog walks.
- A good way to measure the tightness of the harness is that you should be able to fit two fingers between it and your dog.
- A halter with a back clip might be better for short-nosed dogs and other small breeds.
- Be sure to take the harness off after walks—leaving it on 24/7 increases the chance of it getting caught on something around the house.
- It’s always a good idea for your dog to wear a collar with ID tags attached to it too. Doing so will be of paramount importance if they get lost.
- Some dogs need to adjust when shifting from a leash attached to a collar to a harness. To ease the process, you should use treats while you put the new harness on.
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