How Do I Choose the Right Harness for My Dog?

How Do I Choose the Right Harness for My Dog?

How Do I Choose the Right Harness for My Dog?

Ever stood in a pet store, overwhelmed by rows of dog harnesses, feeling like you’re in a candy store… for dogs? Picking the perfect harness for your furry friend isn’t just about color or style—it’s about comfort, safety, and matching your dog’s unique lifestyle.

The right dog harness should fit snugly without restricting movement, ensure control during walks, and cater to the specific needs of your pet’s size, shape, and activity level.

If you’re curious about how to make the best choice, keep reading. We’re about to break down the art of selecting the perfect harness for your pup.

What Types of Harnesses Are Available?

Let’s start with the basics. Harnesses come in various styles—back-clip, front-clip, dual-clip, and no-pull. Each type serves different purposes and suits different walking styles. For instance, a back-clip harness is great for calm dogs who don’t tug much, while a front-clip is better for training a pooch who might pull.

Choosing the right type is crucial because the wrong harness can lead to discomfort or even injury. Always consider your dog’s behavior and training needs when selecting a harness type.

1. Back-Clip Harness

  • Design: Features a D-ring on the back of the harness where the leash attaches. Typically designed with comfort in mind, it may include padding around the chest and back.
  • Ideal for: Dogs that are well-trained and do not pull on the leash, puppies, or dogs with sensitive necks that might be prone to injury from a collar.
  • Advantages: Very easy to use, does not put pressure on the throat, and is excellent for everyday walking. Minimizes the risk of the leash tangling under the legs, especially for small breeds.

2. Front-Clip Harness

  • Design: Features a leash attachment point on the chest, which offers better control over the direction a dog moves when they start to pull.
  • Ideal for: Training dogs not to pull and for owners looking to have more control over their dogs during walks.
  • Advantages: Redirects the dog’s attention towards the owner when they attempt to pull, making it easier to train the dog to walk by your side. Helps in managing larger dogs or those with behavior issues like lunging.
no pull dog harness

3. Dual-Clip Harness

  • Design: Combines both front and back attachment points, giving owners the ability to choose based on the situation.
  • Ideal for: Owners who want flexibility in training and walking, adapting the leash attachment to the dog’s behavior and training progress.
  • Advantages: Versatile; use the front clip for training sessions to reduce pulling, and the back clip for casual walks or when jogging with a dog that does not pull.

4. Step-In Harness

  • Design: Formed by simple loops around the dog’s legs, with a buckle or clip on the back. The dog steps into the harness before it is fastened.
  • Ideal for: Elderly or small dogs, and those who prefer a quick and easy harness to put on. Also great for dogs uncomfortable with items being pulled over their head.
  • Advantages: Very easy to put on; typically less constrictive, which makes it a good option for short-haired dogs or those susceptible to chafing under the arms.
No Pull Dog Harness

5. No-Pull Harness

  • Design: Usually features a front chest attachment point that gently tightens around the chest and shoulders when the dog pulls. This design can also include a martingale loop that provides a gentle squeeze around the chest.
  • Ideal for: Effective training tool for dogs that pull, from large breeds to stubborn pullers.
  • Advantages: Discourages pulling without causing pain or significant discomfort, aiding in positive reinforcement training techniques.
no pull dog harness

Each harness type has been designed with specific dog needs and activities in mind, ensuring there’s a suitable harness for every dog depending on their routine, behavior, and the owner’s handling preference. Choosing the right harness can greatly enhance walking, training, and outdoor activities with your dog.

How Should a Harness Fit?

A well-fitting harness is key to ensuring your dog’s comfort and safety. It should be snug enough that your dog can’t wiggle out, but not so tight that it rubs or chafes. You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably under any strap of the harness.

Regularly check the fit, especially if your dog is still growing, has recently changed weight, or if the harness material has stretched over time.

When to use Dog Harness?

Choosing to use a dog harness instead of a collar can depend on several factors related to your dog’s health, behavior, and the activities you engage in together. Here are some scenarios and reasons when opting for a harness might be particularly beneficial:

1. For Puppies or Dogs in Training

  • Why Choose a Harness: Harnesses can provide better control over a puppy or an untrained dog without putting strain on their neck. They help manage the dog gently during training sessions.
  • Benefit: Reduces the risk of injury to a developing puppy’s neck and provides more control during training.

2. For Dogs That Pull

  • Why Choose a Harness: Dogs that pull can benefit significantly from a no-pull harness, which typically features front leash attachments that help discourage pulling by redirecting the dog’s movement back towards the owner.
  • Benefit: Minimizes strain on the dog’s neck and provides the owner with better control during walks.

3. For Small Breeds

  • Why Choose a Harness: Small dogs are often more susceptible to injuries from collars, such as collapsed trachea or neck strain, due to their delicate structures.
  • Benefit: A harness distributes pressure across the chest and back, reducing the risk of neck injury.

4. For Dogs with Respiratory or Tracheal Issues

  • Why Choose a Harness: Dogs with a history of respiratory or tracheal issues should avoid collars that can exacerbate these conditions when they pull or tug.
  • Benefit: Harnesses ensure that no pressure is placed on the throat, making breathing easier during physical activity.

5. For Active Dogs Involved in Sports or Long Walks

  • Why Choose a Harness: For dogs participating in activities such as hiking or running, a harness provides secure attachment and better distribution of physical stress, which can prevent injury.
  • Benefit: Offers enhanced comfort and safety during vigorous activities and allows for more natural movement.

6. For Dogs with Back or Neck Problems

  • Why Choose a Harness: A harness is essential for dogs with back or neck issues, as it avoids any pressure on these sensitive areas.
  • Benefit: Supports the body without aggravating existing conditions.

7. For Enhanced Safety During Travel

  • Why Choose a Harness: For safety in a vehicle, a harness can be crucial. Special vehicle safety harnesses are designed to work with seat belts.
  • Benefit: Keeps the dog securely seated during travel, reducing the risk of injury in case of an accident.

8. For Dogs Prone to Escaping

  • Why Choose a Harness: Some dogs are skilled at slipping out of collars. A properly fitted harness can be more secure and difficult for a dog to escape from.
  • Benefit: Ensures that the dog stays safely secured during walks, especially in busy or hazardous environments.

Does the Harness Material Matter?

Yes, the material of a dog harness matters significantly as it affects the comfort, durability, safety, and usability of the harness for both the dog and the owner. Here’s how different materials can impact these factors:

1. Comfort

  • Breathability: Materials like mesh provide excellent breathability which is crucial for keeping a dog comfortable, especially in warm weather. This prevents overheating and discomfort during prolonged use.
  • Softness: Fabrics such as padded neoprene or fleece-lined harnesses offer additional comfort, reducing the risk of rubbing and irritation, especially around sensitive areas like under the arms and along the chest.
  • Weight: Lightweight materials like nylon are ideal for everyday use and won’t burden smaller dogs or puppies.

2. Durability

  • Strength: Materials like nylon and polyester are highly durable and suitable for dogs that pull or for outdoor activities that require a sturdy harness. They are resistant to tearing and can withstand rough conditions.
  • Water Resistance: For dogs that swim or are frequently exposed to wet conditions, materials like neoprene or treated nylon that are water-resistant and quick-drying are ideal.
  • Maintenance: Some materials are easier to clean and maintain than others. Synthetic fabrics are generally easier to wash and dry quickly compared to materials like leather, which may require special care to maintain its condition.

3. Safety

  • Visibility: Harnesses with reflective materials are crucial for nighttime safety. They make the dog more visible to motorists and cyclists, preventing accidents.
  • Non-Toxicity: Ensuring that the materials used are non-toxic and safe for dogs is critical, especially since dogs might chew on their harnesses. The dyes and treatments used on the fabric should be non-irritating and non-toxic.

4. Functionality

  • Adjustability: Materials that allow for easy adjustments, such as those with elastic properties or multiple buckle placements, offer better customization to fit different dog sizes and shapes comfortably.
  • Attachment Points: The strength and placement of leash attachment points, which are often reinforced with metal or heavy-duty plastic, are important for the functionality of the harness. They need to withstand pulling and general wear and tear.

5. Environmental Considerations

  • Sustainability: For environmentally conscious owners, the choice of materials can also reflect a preference for sustainability. Options like recycled polyester or eco-friendly dyes are becoming more popular in the production of dog harnesses.

Choosing the right material for a dog harness depends on the specific needs of the dog and the activities they engage in. For instance, a dog that participates in rugged outdoor activities may require a more durable harness than a dog that only goes for casual walks in urban settings. Always consider the comfort, safety, and the practical maintenance of the material when selecting a harness to ensure it serves its purpose effectively and lasts longer.

How Does My Dog’s Activity Level Influence the Choice?

If you’re regularly out adventuring, your dog’s harness needs to handle a lot of activity. Look for harnesses with strong, durable materials and reinforced stitching. For the urban walkers, reflective strips for visibility during evening strolls can be a lifesaver.

If your dog swims or often gets wet, consider a quick-drying material to prevent chafing and discomfort after wet walks.

Are There Special Considerations for Puppies or Senior Dogs?

Puppies might need adjustable harnesses that can grow with them, while senior dogs may benefit from designs that offer additional support and are easy to put on and take off, to accommodate any stiffness or soreness in their joints.


Choosing the right harness for your dog means considering a multitude of factors, from fit and function to material and style. It’s about combining practicality with comfort to ensure your walks are as enjoyable for your dog as they are for you.

QQPETS is the leading wholesale dog harness manufacturer of adjustable harnesses for dogs and other items that people may use when walking their dogs. Our goal is to make dog walking easy for pet owners by providing valuable accessories. We offer a variety of customization services including custom logos, custom graphics, custom products and more. If you want to start your dog products business, check out our website and contact us today.

FAQ about dog harness

How do I know what harness to get my dog?

  • Choose a harness based on your dog’s size, behavior, and activity needs. Ensure it fits comfortably, provides adequate control, and suits your regular activities.

What shape harness is best for a dog?

  • A Y-shaped harness is often best as it distributes pressure evenly, allows for natural movement, and minimizes discomfort around the neck and shoulders.

What style of dog harness is best?

  • The best style depends on your specific needs: no-pull harnesses for pullers, step-in harnesses for ease of use, and padded vest harnesses for comfort.

How is a dog harness supposed to fit?

  • A dog harness should fit snugly but not tightly; you should be able to slip two fingers under any strap. Ensure it does not restrict movement or cause chafing.

Article by

Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

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Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

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