Why Do Dog Trainers Not Like Dog Harnesses?

Why Do Dog Trainers Not Like Dog Harnesses?

Ever wonder why some dog trainers look at harnesses like they’ve just seen a cat at a dog show? Well, pull up a chair, grab a treat (for your dog, of course), and let me spin you a yarn from the perspective of a dog trainer who’s seen it all.

The short answer? It’s not that we don’t like harnesses; it’s that they’re often misused in training scenarios. Harnesses are fantastic for many reasons, but when it comes to training, they can sometimes lead to more pulling and less control, making it harder to teach good leash manners.

Some dog trainers express reservations about harnesses for a few reasons, though it’s important to note that opinions on this matter can vary significantly among professionals. Here are some of the commonly cited reasons:

  1. Reduced Control: Harnesses can give dogs a greater range of motion compared to collars, making it potentially more challenging for the owner or trainer to control the dog, especially if the dog is large or particularly reactive.
  2. Encouragement of Pulling: Some types of harnesses can actually encourage dogs to pull. This is because harnesses distribute pressure more evenly around the dog’s body, which can reduce discomfort when pulling and thus reinforce the pulling behavior. This is especially true for harnesses that attach at the back.
  3. Training Challenges: For training purposes, some trainers prefer the feedback and control provided by a traditional collar, especially when teaching a dog to walk nicely on a leash or to heel. Collars can allow for more direct communication of commands through the leash.
  4. Potential for Escape: Some harnesses are easier for dogs to slip out of compared to a properly fitted collar. This can pose a safety risk, especially in potentially dangerous environments like busy streets.
  5. Over-dependence: There’s a concern that relying too much on a harness can lead to an over-dependence on equipment for control and behavior management, rather than teaching the dog to listen and respond to commands without the need for physical restraint.

Are Harnesses the Villains of Dog Training?

First off, let’s debunk a myth: harnesses are not the villains in the story of dog training. They’re more like anti-heroes. Misunderstood.

Most dog trainers cringe at poorly fitted harnesses because they can enable dogs to pull with their whole body weight. Imagine trying to teach manners to a furry locomotive. That’s what it feels like.

The truth is, a harness can be a powerful tool for managing pulling, but only when used correctly. That’s where we, the dog trainers, come in, waving our magic wands (or treat bags) to make the learning process a bit smoother.

Why the Long Face When It Comes to Harnesses?

It’s not that we have anything against harnesses per se. It’s more about finding the right tool for the job.

A harness is like a pair of rollerblades. Great for cruising around, not so great for learning the basics of walking. Many trainers prefer starting with a collar because it gives more feedback to the dog on what’s expected during walks.

But here’s a twist: as a trainer, I’ve seen harnesses work wonders for certain dogs, especially those with neck issues or breathing problems. It’s all about the individual dog and their needs.

The Misunderstood Heroes of the Dog World

So, harnesses are not the enemy. They’re like the misunderstood heroes of the dog world, waiting for their moment to shine. The key is to understand when and how to use them effectively.

Training with a harness requires a bit of finesse. It’s like teaching a cat to high-five; it’s possible, but you need patience and the right approach. Check out 5 Best Steps to Train Your Dog to Wear a Dog Harness for tips on harness training that actually works.

Are dog harnesses safe?

But, What About Control?

Control is the name of the game in dog training, and let’s be honest, a harness can sometimes feel like playing a game with a joystick that’s not quite responsive. That’s why trainers often have a love-hate relationship with them.

However, with the right harness (think front-clip) and training techniques, you can guide your dog just as effectively. It’s like upgrading to a console with better controllers. For a comparison of harness types, visit What Type of Dog Harness is Best for Your Dog?

Choosing the Right Harness: A Quest

Not all harnesses are created equal. Finding the right one is like embarking on a quest for the Holy Grail. It requires research, patience, and sometimes, a bit of luck.

A well-fitting harness can change the game for both you and your dog. It’s about comfort, safety, and suitability for your training goals. For a guide to choosing the perfect harness, take a peek at How to shop for a dog harness?

Embracing the Harness: A Trainer’s Journey

At the end of the day, it’s about what works best for you and your furry friend. As trainers, our job is to guide you, offer advice, and help you navigate the vast sea of pet products.

Harnesses, when chosen and used correctly, can be a valuable part of your training toolkit. The key is to stay open-minded, informed, and always willing to learn something new.


So, why the long faces from dog trainers when harnesses enter the room? It’s not disdain; it’s concern for using the right tool in the right way. With the proper harness and training, your dog can enjoy the freedom to explore while learning good manners. It’s a win-win!


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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