Why You Shouldn’t Walk Your Dog On A Harness?

Why You Shouldn’t Walk Your Dog On A Harness?

Welcome, pet aficionados! Today, we’re tugging at the leash of a controversial topic: Should you walk your dog on a harness?

Now, here’s the rub: Harnesses, while popular, aren’t always the best choice for every dog on every walk. Why? They can encourage pulling, hinder communication, and in some cases, affect your dog’s natural movement.

Certain factors for walking your dog without a harness are explored in detail below:

  1. Promotes Pulling: Some types of harnesses, especially those that attach the leash at the back, can make pulling easier for a dog. This is because a back-clip harness does not discourage pulling; in fact, it can leverage the dog’s body weight to pull harder. This might not be ideal for training a dog not to pull on the leash.
  2. Less Control: Harnesses can give a dog more body coverage and distribute pressure more widely, which can sometimes translate to less control over the dog’s movements for the owner, particularly with large or strong dogs who are reactive or like to chase.
  3. Inappropriate for Training: For some training exercises, particularly those involving precise control of the dog’s head and neck, a harness might not provide the necessary level of control. This is especially true for behavioral training where directing the dog’s attention is crucial.
  4. Can Be Less Safe in Certain Scenarios: If a harness is not properly fitted, a dog might be able to slip out of it more easily than out of a collar. This could be dangerous in high-traffic areas or if the dog is prone to bolting.
  5. Potential for Chafing: Poorly fitted harnesses can cause chafing and discomfort for the dog, especially under the legs or around the chest if the dog is very active during walks.
  6. Over-reliance on Equipment: There’s a concern that relying on a harness can lead to an over-reliance on physical restraint to manage and control a dog, rather than training the dog to obey commands and behave well regardless of the equipment used.

What’s the Big Deal About Harnesses?

So, harnesses are like the Swiss Army knives of the dog accessory world—versatile and packed with features. But just because you can use a Swiss Army knife to cut your steak, should you?

Harnesses distribute pressure across a larger area of the body, which is great for dogs who pull or have delicate necks. However, this feature can also backfire by making it comfortable for dogs to pull even harder. Think about it: if pulling feels good, why stop?

How Do Harnesses Affect Dog Behavior?

Let’s get behavioral! Harnesses can unwittingly encourage pulling. Yes, the very thing they’re often used to prevent! When a dog feels resistance across its chest or back, its natural instinct is to push against it—hello, sled dog syndrome!

According to Amy (dog trainer), this resistance triggers a reflex that makes a dog pull harder. The result? A walk that feels more like a tug-of-war than a leisurely stroll through the park.

But Aren’t Harnesses Safer?

Safety first, right? Harnesses can be safer in some scenarios—like for dogs prone to slipping out of collars. However, they’re not foolproof. A poorly fitted harness can slip, rub, or even allow a Houdini-esque escape.

For tips on finding the perfect fit, check out How do I find a good dog harness?. Remember, a harness should fit like a glove—snug but not tight, with no room for an escape artist act.

What About Training and Control?

Here’s where things get tricky. Training with a harness can be like trying to steer a car with your feet—it’s possible, but it’s not ideal. Some Harnesses can make it difficult to guide your dog and provide directional cues.

For those interested in training their dogs to heel or walk nicely on a leash, the feedback from a collar can be more effective. Alternatively, it is better to use a front clip harness or an anti-pulling harness to train.

So, When Should I Use a Harness?

Don’t throw out your harness just yet! They have their time and place. For dogs with medical issues like tracheal collapse or for breeds with delicate necks, a harness is a must. Similarly, during high-adventure activities (think hiking or running), a harness can provide extra security and comfort.

For a list of harness-appropriate activities, visit What Type of Dog Harness is Best for Your Dog?. It’s all about using the right tool for the job!


Walking your dog on a harness isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about understanding the specific needs and behaviors of your furry friend. While harnesses can be incredibly useful in the right situations, they’re not always the go-to for every dog or every walk.

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.


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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