Why Do Dog Trainers Not Like Harnesses?

What is a Step-In or Overhead Harness?

Why Do Dog Trainers Not Like Harnesses?

Navigating the world of dog training equipment can be tricky, especially when opinions diverge on what’s best for our furry friends. Among the debates is the use of harnesses—seen by some as a panacea for pulling pooches, yet criticized by others within the training community. Why the split opinion?

Dog trainers often have reservations about harnesses because they can sometimes undermine training objectives. Harnesses, by design, alleviate pressure from a dog’s neck by dispersing it across a larger area of their body. This feature, while beneficial for a dog’s physical health, especially for those prone to respiratory or tracheal issues, can ironically make pulling issues worse. The comfort they provide can sometimes encourage dogs to pull harder rather than teaching them not to pull.

6 Reasons Why We Don’t Like Harnesses

The fundamental challenge with harnesses lies in their potential to enable pulling. A typical harness gives a dog a significant mechanical advantage—allowing them to exert more force by engaging their strong chest muscles. This can make training, particularly leash training, more difficult as it might reinforce pulling behaviors rather than dissuading them.

1. Reduced Control Over the Dog’s Head:

Harnesses, especially those that clip at the back, do not offer control over the dog’s head. In training contexts, controlling the head can help direct the dog’s attention and manage behaviors more effectively. Trainers might prefer a training collar or a head halter for activities that require precise control over the dog’s direction and focus.

2. Potential to Encourage Pulling:

Some types of harnesses can actually encourage dogs to pull. The back-clip harnesses, for instance, distribute pressure across the chest and back when a dog pulls, which can make pulling less uncomfortable for the dog and inadvertently reinforce the pulling behavior. This is particularly counterproductive in leash training where the objective is to teach the dog to walk calmly beside the handler.

3. Less Immediate Feedback:

Training collars, like martingale collars or gentle leaders, provide immediate feedback to the dog for correction, which can be more effective in teaching leash manners. Harnesses, particularly those that do not tighten or provide immediate feedback when a dog pulls, may not be as effective for correcting unwanted behaviors during training sessions.

4. May Not Address Behavioral Issues Effectively:

For dogs with aggressive tendencies or those that need significant behavioral corrections, a harness may not provide enough control to safely manage these behaviors during training. In such cases, trainers might opt for specific types of collars that allow them to manage and correct the behavior more safely and effectively.

5. Training Specific Commands:

Certain training commands and techniques, such as heel or walking closely by the trainer’s side, can be more challenging to teach with a harness because the trainer has less ability to guide the dog’s body and head.

6. Preference for Traditional Methods:

Some trainers, especially those trained in more traditional or correction-based methods, may prefer collars because they are accustomed to using them and find them more effective based on their training styles and experiences.

It’s important to note that the preference against harnesses is not universal among dog trainers. Many modern trainers who use positive reinforcement techniques highly recommend harnesses for their safety and the comfort they provide to the dog, particularly for everyday use and for dogs with medical issues like tracheal collapse, where pressure on the neck must be avoided.

Ultimately, the choice between a harness and a collar should be made based on the individual dog’s needs, the specific training goals, and the safety of both the dog and the handler. Consulting with a professional trainer can help determine the most appropriate gear for training and walking your dog.

Harnesses Are Not One-Size-Fits-All

While some trainers express concerns, harnesses are invaluable in specific scenarios. They are particularly beneficial for:

  • Dogs with medical issues like cervical or tracheal problems where a collar could cause harm.
  • Puppies who might not have the training or neck strength to handle a collar.
  • Dogs engaged in certain sports or activities where harnesses provide better support and safety.

Selecting the Right Training Tools

When it comes to training, the key is to choose the tool that best matches the training goals and the individual needs of the dog. For instance, the QQPETS Reflective Tactical Dog Harness is tailored to combine control with comfort. This harness features both front and back clips, offering versatility depending on the training scenario. Its design considers the dog’s comfort with padded support and breathable materials, ensuring the training session is as effective as it is enjoyable.

QQPETS No Pull Reflective dog harness

For trainers, the ideal approach might involve using both a collar and a harness at different stages of training, depending on the skills being taught. It’s essential to adapt the training tools to the progress and behavior of the dog, ensuring they are always conducive to learning and well-being.


The debate over harnesses in dog training underscores the importance of choosing the right tools based on a dog’s individual needs, behavior, and the specific training objectives. While harnesses can pose challenges for teaching leash manners, they also offer indispensable benefits in particular circumstances, ensuring safety and comfort for dogs that require gentle handling.

Harnesses, when used correctly and chosen thoughtfully, can be part of a comprehensive training regimen that respects the dog’s physical and psychological needs.

Embrace the nuances of dog training by selecting gear like the QQPETS harness, which balances control with safety, making your training sessions as rewarding as they are effective.

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

Why Not Use a Harness for Dog Training?

Some trainers might advise against using a harness for dog training, particularly in specific training scenarios, for reasons including:

  • Reduced Control: While harnesses are great for walks and reducing strain on the dog’s neck, they can provide less direct control over the head and front shoulders compared to collars. This can be a drawback in precision training or when trying to correct certain behaviors like lunging.
  • Encouraging Pulling: Some types of harnesses, especially back-clip harnesses, can inadvertently encourage pulling. Dogs may feel more comfortable pulling against the even pressure distribution of a harness, which doesn’t provide the immediate feedback that a collar might when they tug.
  • Training Specific Behaviors: For certain training exercises, such as heel work or focused attention training, trainers might prefer a training collar that allows for quick, gentle corrections that a harness does not facilitate.

Do Dog Trainers Like Harnesses?

Dog trainers’ opinions on harnesses can vary widely depending on their training philosophy, the type of training they specialize in, and the individual needs of the dog. Many trainers recommend harnesses for:

  • General Safety and Comfort: Particularly for pet owners during regular walks, especially with dogs at risk of neck injuries or those prone to pulling.
  • Specific Training Contexts: Such as training dogs not to pull or when working with dogs with respiratory or tracheal issues, where a harness is clearly beneficial.
  • Behavioral Management: Harnesses can be helpful in managing and controlling dogs with less risk of causing harm, which is a priority in modern, positive reinforcement-based training methods.

Why Do Dogs Dislike Harnesses?

Not all dogs dislike harnesses, but those that do might have their reasons:

  • Discomfort: If a harness is ill-fitting, too tight, or poorly designed, it can cause discomfort or restrict movement.
  • Negative Associations: If a harness is used only for vet visits or other unpleasant experiences, dogs might begin to associate the harness with negative events.
  • Lack of Habituation: Dogs not accustomed to wearing a harness from a young age may find the experience strange or confining.

Why Are People Against Dog Harnesses?

While many people and trainers advocate for harnesses, some opposition usually stems from:

  • Reduced Training Effectiveness: As mentioned, certain training maneuvers are less effective or more difficult to communicate through a harness.
  • Misuse: Improper use of a harness, such as consistently allowing a dog to pull, can reinforce bad habits.
  • Personal Preference: Some owners or trainers prefer the control and simplicity of a collar, especially if they have trained dogs successfully with collars in the past.

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.

Get More Industry News!


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.

Get the week's best marketing content

Get Free Rendering

We use advanced encryption and security measures to ensure that your uploaded files are transmitted and ordered with maximum protection and privacy.