What are the Pros and Cons of a Dog Harness?

What are the Pros and Cons of a Dog Harness?

Hello, fellow dog enthusiasts! If you’ve ever gone shopping for dog walking gear, you’ve likely faced the great debate: collar or harness? As someone who’s been in the pet product biz for nearly five years at pet trade, I’ve seen every style, type, and fashion of dog harness you can imagine. Let’s chew over the pros and cons of harnesses, shall we?

Dog harnesses are fantastic for better control and can help prevent injury in dogs who like to pull or lunge. They distribute pressure across a larger area of the body, reducing strain on the neck and back.

Pros of Using a Dog Harness

  1. Reduced Risk of Neck Injury: Unlike collars, harnesses distribute pressure across a broader area of the body—across the chest and back—reducing the strain on the neck. This is particularly important for breeds prone to tracheal collapse or those with respiratory issues.
  2. Improved Control: Harnesses offer better control over dogs, especially those that are large or tend to pull. This can make walks safer and more enjoyable, especially in crowded or potentially dangerous environments.
  3. Suitable for Training: Harnesses can help in training dogs not to pull on the leash. With features like front attachment points, they allow for steering the dog, which can help in correcting pulling behavior.
  4. Prevents Escaping: Properly fitted harnesses are harder for dogs to slip out of compared to collars. This can be crucial for dogs that are adept at wiggling out of a collar.
  5. Comfort and Safety: Many harnesses are designed with padding to enhance comfort, making them suitable for prolonged use during walks, runs, or hikes.
  6. Versatile Designs: Harnesses come in various designs tailored to specific needs, such as no-pull harnesses, car safety harnesses, and tactical harnesses with attachments for gear.

Cons of Using a Dog Harness

  1. Can Encourage Pulling: Some back-clip harnesses can actually encourage pulling in dogs not yet trained to walk nicely on a leash. The harness doesn’t cause discomfort when pulling, which doesn’t deter the behavior.
  2. Proper Fit Required: Getting the right fit can be challenging, especially for dogs with unique body shapes. An improperly fitted harness can lead to chafing, discomfort, or even escape.
  3. Initial Resistance: Some dogs may not like the feel of a harness and can show resistance or discomfort initially. It may take some time and patience to acclimate a dog to wearing a harness.
  4. Complexity: Harnesses can be more complex to put on and take off compared to collars. This might be inconvenient for quick outings or for dogs that don’t cooperate during the process.
  5. Can Affect Movement: If not well-designed, a harness can restrict a dog’s natural movement, especially in the shoulder area, which could lead to discomfort or issues with gait over time.
  6. Heat and Weight: Some heavier or more padded harnesses can cause dogs to over.

But hang onto your leashes, because we’re about to dive deeper. Just like picking a sweater, not every harness is perfect for every pooch. Let’s explore what makes harnesses both a blessing and a curse in the dog walking world!

What’s so great about harnesses anyway?

Harnesses are like seat belts for dogs. They provide security and safety that collars can’t match, especially if you have a puller or a jumper. The broad straps distribute pressure more evenly across the body, which helps prevent neck injuries and choking incidents when Fido decides to chase a squirrel.

It’s not just about safety; it’s also about comfort. Many dogs prefer the feel of a harness because it wraps around their body rather than tightening around their neck. Plus, for us handlers, harnesses give more leverage and control, which is a godsend for those of us with strong, energetic breeds.

But aren’t there some drawbacks?

Of course, no pet product is without its flaws. One downside of harnesses is that they can be a bit of a puzzle to put on, especially if you have a squirmy pup. It’s like trying to put a bra on an octopus sometimes! And if not fitted properly, a harness can rub and chafe, or even allow a crafty dog to escape.

Another con is that harnesses can encourage pulling in some dogs, particularly with back-clip designs. It’s like giving them a license to tow you around the neighborhood. Harnesses might also need regular adjustments and checks to ensure they fit well as your dog grows or changes in weight.

Do harnesses really help with training?

They can! Harnesses are often recommended by trainers for dogs who are in the process of learning not to pull on walks. The front-clip harnesses, for instance, are a wonder for training because they control the direction of the dog’s body when they try to pull, making it easier to steer them back to your side.

However, remember that a harness is a tool, not a miracle worker. Effective training comes down to consistency and technique, not just gear. So while a harness can aid in the process, it doesn’t replace the need for regular, positive training sessions. Check out training with harnesses for more tips.

What about the fit and type?

The fit is crucial when it comes to harnesses. A poorly fitting harness can lead to all the cons we talked about earlier: chafing, escape, and even injury. But get the fit right, and your dog’s harness becomes his ticket to comfortable, safe adventures outdoors.

And the variety! Oh, the styles, colors, and functions of harnesses available today can suit any dog’s personality and any owner’s taste. Whether you need a no-pull harness, a reflective harness for night walks, or a rugged harness for hiking, there’s something out there for everyone. Dive into the variety at harness styles and uses.

How do I choose the right harness?

Choosing the right harness comes down to knowing your dog’s needs, behavior, and body shape. Consider the material, the type of clip, the adjustability, and, importantly, the ease of use. It’s worth visiting a store to try on different styles or consulting with a professional to find the best fit.

FAQ about Dog Harness

How do I know if the harness fits properly?

A properly fitted harness should allow you to slip two fingers under any strap. It should be snug to prevent slipping out, but not so tight that it restricts movement or causes chafing. Make sure the harness does not rub under the armpits or around the chest.

Are harnesses better than collars?

Harnesses can provide better control over your dog and reduce the risk of neck injuries, especially in dogs prone to pulling or those with respiratory issues. However, some dogs might find collars more comfortable for everyday wear, especially if they do not pull.

Can a harness stop my dog from pulling?

Certain types of harnesses, especially those with front-clip attachments, can help manage and reduce pulling by redirecting your dog’s movement towards you when they try to pull.

Is it okay for my dog to wear a harness all the time?

It’s generally recommended to remove the harness when your dog is not on a leash or being actively supervised, especially indoors, to prevent the risk of getting caught on objects and causing injury.

What material is best for a dog harness?

Look for durable materials that can withstand wear and tear, such as nylon or polyester. If your dog has sensitive skin, consider a harness with a breathable mesh or padded lining to prevent irritation.

Are harnesses suitable for puppies?

Yes, harnesses can be great for puppies as they provide control without putting too much pressure on the neck. Make sure the harness is adjustable to accommodate your puppy’s growth.

How often should I replace my dog’s harness?

Inspect your dog’s harness regularly for signs of wear, such as frayed straps or broken buckles. Replace the harness if it shows significant wear or no longer fits properly due to your dog’s growth or weight changes.

Can a harness help in training my dog?

Yes, harnesses can be very effective training tools, especially for teaching leash manners. They provide better control for the handler and are less punishing for the dog compared to some training collars.


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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