Whether you already use a harness for your dog, or you’re considering making the switch from the more traditional collar, there are many elements to consider when it comes to the safety of your dog and enhancing their outdoor adventures.
While a collar and leash are the traditional option when walking a dog, for dogs who pull during walks, a collar may increase the risk of neck injury and a harness may be a more suitable option.
First, you must understand if your dog is suitable for a harness based on breed, activity level and walking behaviours. For example, a halter with a back clip, as opposed to a front clip, may be better for flat-nosed dogs (Pugs and Shih Tzus) and small breeds. This is because front-clip harnesses may put too much pressure on their chest and throat. Front-hook harnesses can affect a dog’s natural gait and hinder shoulder movement and may be better suited for pullers or reactive dogs as you are more easily able to control their movement.
Overall, comfort is key and the harness should not fit too tightly (rub the shoulders or arms) or too loosely. A well-fitting harness won’t gap, pull, chafe, or otherwise irritate the dog and will stay put with minimal movement as the dog walk. Chesty dogs, like Dobermans and Bulldogs might have a tougher time finding a harness that fits properly, in which case a collar & leash may be more suitable. Pet parents with long-haired breeds, like Sheepdogs or Bernese Mountain Dogs may also opt for a leash & collar as to not pull on their fur. To ensure the fit is right for your dog, you should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog with little give.
Ensuring proper fit is the most important factor of harness use as the biggest risk of any tool is your dog slipping out. With this, it is imperative that your dog is always wearing identification tags, especially if they are reactive or are nervous walkers or as your dog is being acclimated to their new harness.