Choosing the right dog harness

choosing the right dog harness

Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Dog Harness for Your Pet

Greetings, fellow dog enthusiasts! In this extensive guide, we’re embarking on a thorough exploration of the world of dog harnesses. Fasten your seatbelts (or should I say, harnesses) as we unravel everything you need to know about selecting the perfect gear for your canine companion.

The Importance of Using a Dog Harness

Dog harnesses go beyond being mere accessories; they play a vital role in ensuring your pup’s comfort and safety during walks. Unlike traditional collars that may strain the neck, harnesses distribute pressure evenly across the chest, minimizing the risk of injury and providing a more comfortable walking experience. Let’s delve into the impact of harnesses on your dog’s overall well-being.

Types of Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses come in a plethora of styles, each catering to different needs. Let’s delve into the most common types and their unique features.

Vest Harnesses


  • Versatility: Suitable for various dog sizes and breeds.
  • Control: Provides excellent control, ideal for dogs that tend to pull during walks.
  • Comfort: Many come with padding for added comfort during walks.


  • Coverage: Some dogs may find the coverage excessive, especially in warmer climates.

When considering a vest harness, brands like “Ruffwear Front Range Harness” and “Kurgo Journey Dog Harness” stand out as top-rated options.

Ruffwear Front Range Harness


  • Adjustable straps for a customized fit.
  • Front leash attachment for no-pull training.
  • Reflective trim for enhanced visibility in low light.

User Testimonials:

  • Praise for durable materials and easy adjustment features.
  • Reports of a significant reduction in pulling behavior.

Kurgo Journey Dog Harness


  • Four adjustment points for a secure fit.
  • Chest plate for even weight distribution.
  • Dual leash attachment points for versatility.

User Testimonials:

  • Appreciation for sturdy construction and durability.
  • Positive feedback on the comfortable design, particularly for dogs with broader chests.

Step-In Harnesses


  • Ease of Use: Convenient, especially for dogs who dislike items pulled over their heads.
  • Security: Offers a secure fit around the body, minimizing the risk of slipping.


  • Limited Adjustability: Some step-in harnesses may have limited adjustment options.

Popular brands like “Puppia Soft Dog Harness” and “Gooby – Escape Free Sport Harness” have garnered praise from the dog-loving community.

Puppia Soft Dog Harness


  • Soft, air-mesh fabric for breathability.
  • Adjustable chest belt for a customized fit.
  • Quick-release buckle for easy on and off.

User Testimonials:

  • Appreciation for the comfortable and lightweight design.
  • Ideal for small to medium-sized dogs.

Gooby – Escape Free Sport Harness


  • Patented escape-free design for added security.
  • Reflective trimming for enhanced visibility.
  • Multiple color options for style-conscious pet owners.

User Testimonials:

  • Positive feedback on the escape-proof design.
  • Commendation for durable and long-lasting construction.

Sizing Tips for Different Breeds

Ensuring the right fit is crucial for your dog’s comfort and safety. Let’s delve into detailed guidelines for accurate measurements and considerations based on specific breeds.

Guidelines for Measuring

  1. Chest Girth: Measure the widest part of your dog’s chest, typically right behind the front legs.
  2. Neck Size: Measure around the base of the neck, where the collar would sit.
  3. Length: Measure from the base of the neck to the base of the tail.

When selecting the right size, always consult the manufacturer’s sizing guide, as sizing can vary between brands.

Breed-Specific Considerations

Different breeds have unique body shapes and sizes. Here are some considerations:

Small Breeds (e.g., Chihuahua, Pomeranian)

  • Opt for lightweight and breathable materials.
  • Ensure the harness is secure around the chest to prevent slipping.

Medium to Large Breeds (e.g., Labrador, Golden Retriever)

  • Choose a harness with sturdy construction and strong hardware.
  • Look for wide straps to distribute pressure evenly.

Brachycephalic Breeds (e.g., Bulldog, Pug)

  • Select a harness with a front attachment to discourage pulling.
  • Ensure the harness does not put pressure on the dog’s respiratory system.

Key Features of Quality Harnesses

Not all harnesses are created equal. Let’s explore the essential features that distinguish high-quality harnesses and how they contribute to both comfort and functionality.

Adjustable Straps

Adjustable straps are a game-changer when it comes to finding the perfect fit for your dog. Look for harnesses with multiple adjustment points, allowing you to customize the fit to your dog’s unique body shape.


Padding adds an extra layer of comfort during walks, especially for dogs with sensitive skin. Quality harnesses often feature padding around the chest and straps, preventing chafing and irritation.

When considering adjustable straps and padding, brands like “Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness” and “Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness” have received acclaim.

Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness


  • Adjustable straps for a secure fit.
  • Replaceable patches for customization.
  • Heavy-duty buckle for durability.

User Testimonials:

  • Positive feedback on the customizable patches.
  • Commendation for robust construction.

Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness


  • Adjustable neck and chest straps for a personalized fit.
  • No-pull design with a front attachment.
  • Quick snap buckles for easy on and off.

User Testimonials:

  • Appreciation for the versatility of the front attachment.
  • Positive feedback on the comfortable and secure fit.

Reviews of Top-Rated Dog Harnesses

To simplify your decision-making process, let’s delve into detailed reviews of some top-rated dog harnesses, including user testimonials and ratings.

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

User Testimonials:

  • “My energetic Labrador has met his match with the Ruffwear Front Range Harness. The front attachment has significantly reduced pulling during walks.”
  • “The adjustable straps provide a snug fit, and the reflective trim adds a safety bonus during evening strolls.”


  • Durability: 4.8/5
  • Comfort: 4.5/5
  • Ease of Use: 4.7/5

Kurgo Journey Dog Harness

User Testimonials:

  • “The Kurgo Journey Dog Harness has been a game-changer for my adventurous Golden Retriever. The chest plate ensures even weight distribution, and the dual leash attachment points offer flexibility.”
  • “I appreciate the four adjustment points – it’s like a custom-tailored suit for my dog!”


  • Durability: 4.6/5
  • Comfort: 4.7/5
  • Versatility: 4.5/5

Puppia Soft Dog Harness

User Testimonials:

  • “Perfect for my small dog! The Puppia Soft Dog Harness is not only comfortable but also stylish. The quick-release buckle makes it a breeze to put on and take off.”
  • “Breathable fabric and the adjustable chest belt ensure a secure yet comfortable fit.”


  • Durability: 4.5/5
  • Comfort: 4.8/5
  • Style: 4.7/5

Gooby – Escape Free Sport Harness

User Testimonials:

  • “Finally found an escape-proof harness! My Houdini dog hasn’t slipped out once with the Gooby – Escape Free Sport Harness.”
  • “The reflective trimming is a great safety feature, and the range of colors is a bonus.”


  • Security: 4.9/5
  • Visibility: 4.6/5
  • Durability: 4.7/5

Additional Tips for Choosing a Dog Harness

11. Safety First

  • Reflective Elements: Opt for harnesses with reflective elements for enhanced visibility during low-light conditions, ensuring both your dog and you stay safe during evening walks.
  • Attachment Points: Different leash attachment points impact control and discourage pulling. Choose a harness that aligns with your training goals and your dog’s behavior.

12. Material Matters

  • Breathability: In warmer climates, prioritize breathable materials to prevent overheating during walks.
  • Water-Resistant Options: For water-loving dogs or rainy-day walks, consider harnesses made from water-resistant materials.

13. Style and Design

  • Fashion and Function: Strike a balance between style and functionality. Explore different styles and designs that align with your pup’s personality.
  • Customization: Some harnesses offer patches or areas for customization, adding a personal touch and serving practical purposes, such as displaying your dog’s name.

14. Training and Behavioral Considerations

  • No-Pull Features: If your dog tends to pull during walks, explore harnesses designed specifically for no-pull training.
  • Training Compatibility: Consider harnesses that complement your specific training methods and address behavioral issues effectively.

15. Budget-Friendly Options

  • Affordable Quality: Quality harnesses don’t always break the bank. Explore budget-friendly options that prioritize safety and comfort.

16. Veterinarian Recommendations

  • Consulting with a Vet: Your veterinarian is a valuable resource. Consult with them, especially if your dog has specific health conditions or unique needs.
  • Medical Considerations: Certain medical conditions might influence your harness choice. Seek guidance on the most suitable options.

17. Community Recommendations

  • Online Pet Communities: Tap into the wealth of knowledge in online pet communities and forums. Share experiences and seek recommendations from fellow dog owners.
  • Local Pet Stores: Visit local pet stores where experts can provide personalized assistance in selecting the right harness for your dog.

18. Environmental Impact

  • Eco-Friendly Options: If you’re environmentally conscious, explore harnesses made from eco-friendly materials that have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Sustainable Materials: Consider harnesses crafted from sustainable materials, contributing to a greener and more sustainable pet industry.

19. Travel-Friendly Features

  • Car Safety: Invest in harnesses that double as car safety restraints, ensuring your dog stays secure during car rides.
  • Compact Design: For travel and outdoor adventures, look for harnesses with a compact design that’s convenient on the go.

20. Warranty and Return Policies

  • Manufacturer Guarantees: Check for warranty information and return policies, providing peace of mind in case the harness doesn’t meet your expectations.
  • Customer Service: Good customer service is invaluable. Choose harnesses from manufacturers known for prompt and helpful customer support.

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

Your dog’s harness requires proper care for longevity and optimal functionality. Let’s delve into effective cleaning, maintenance, and storage tips.


Keeping your dog’s harness clean is essential for hygiene and durability. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Spot Cleaning: Wipe down the harness with a damp cloth to remove any surface dirt.
  2. Hand Washing: For deeper cleaning, soak the harness in warm, soapy water.
  3. Air Drying: Allow the harness to air dry completely before putting it back on your dog.


Regular maintenance ensures your harness stays in top-notch condition. Here are some tips:

  1. Inspect Regularly: Check for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed straps or loose stitching.
  2. Hardware Check: Ensure all buckles and attachments are secure and functioning correctly.
  3. Replace as Needed: If the harness shows signs of damage, consider replacing it promptly.

Storage Tips

Proper storage prevents premature wear and tear. Consider the following tips:

  1. Dry Storage: Always store the harness in a dry place to prevent mold and mildew.
  2. Avoid Direct Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can weaken the materials, so store the harness away from direct sunlight.
  3. Hang or Fold: Depending on the material, either hang the harness or fold it neatly to avoid creasing.

Addressing Common Fit Issues

Even with the right size, fit issues can arise. Let’s explore a troubleshooting guide for common fit-related problems, ensuring your dog’s comfort and safety.

Troubleshooting Guide

  1. Rubbing or Chafing: Check for any areas where the harness may be rubbing against your dog’s skin. Consider using anti-chafing products or adjusting the fit.
  2. Slipping or Shifting: If the harness is slipping or shifting during walks, double-check the adjustment points. Ensure a snug fit without being too tight.
  3. Difficulty Breathing: For brachycephalic breeds, monitor your dog’s breathing during walks. If there are signs of discomfort, consider a harness with a front attachment to discourage pulling.

Adjusting and Fine-Tuning

A perfect fit requires adjustments and fine-tuning. Here’s how to achieve it:

  1. Check Straps Regularly: Periodically check the tightness of the straps to ensure they remain secure.
  2. Observe Movement: Watch your dog’s movement during walks. If the harness seems to impede their natural gait, make adjustments.
  3. Trial and Error: Finding the ideal fit may require some trial and error. Be patient and make gradual adjustments for the best results.

Integrating Harness Use into Daily Routine

Now that you’ve chosen the right harness, let’s discuss how to seamlessly integrate it into your daily activities. We’ll provide tips for both puppies and first-time harness users.

Gradual Introduction

For puppies or dogs unfamiliar with harnesses, a gradual introduction is key. Follow these steps:

  1. Positive Association: Associate the harness with positive experiences by offering treats and praise during the initial introduction.
  2. Short Sessions: Start with short sessions of wearing the harness indoors before progressing to outdoor walks.
  3. Incremental Increases: Gradually increase the duration your dog wears the harness, allowing them to acclimate at their own pace.

Daily Activities

Tips on incorporating the harness into daily walks, runs, and other activities. Make it a positive experience for both you and your furry companion.

  1. Positive Reinforcement: Use treats and praise during walks to reinforce positive behavior.
  2. Varied Environments: Gradually expose your dog to different environments, ensuring they remain comfortable and confident in their harness.
  3. Play and Rewards: Incorporate playtime and rewards after walks, creating a positive association with the harness.

Ensuring Comfort during Extended Wear

If your dog wears the harness for extended periods, ensuring ongoing comfort is crucial. Learn recommendations for extended wear and how to check for signs of discomfort or irritation.

Recommendations for Extended Wear

  1. Breathability: Choose a harness with breathable materials, especially if your dog will be wearing it for extended periods.
  2. Regular Breaks: If possible, provide regular breaks during long walks or activities to prevent any rubbing or discomfort.
  3. Temperature Consideration: Be mindful of the temperature, especially in hot weather, to avoid overheating.

Checking for Signs of Discomfort

Understand the subtle signs that your dog might be experiencing discomfort or irritation. Learn how to address these issues promptly.

  1. Behavioral Changes: Monitor for any sudden behavioral changes during or after wearing the harness.
  2. Inspect for Irritation: Regularly check your dog’s skin for signs of irritation, such as redness or chafing.
  3. Adjust as Needed: If you notice any discomfort, reevaluate the fit of the harness and make necessary adjustments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Why is it essential to use a dog harness instead of a collar for walks?

A: Unlike collars, dog harnesses distribute pressure evenly across the chest, minimizing the risk of injury and providing a more comfortable walking experience. They are especially beneficial for dogs prone to pulling.

Q2: How do I measure my dog for the right harness size?

A: Measure the chest girth (widest part of the chest), neck size (base of the neck), and length (base of the neck to the base of the tail). Consult the manufacturer’s sizing guide, as sizes may vary between brands.

Q3: What type of harness is suitable for small breeds like Chihuahuas?

A: Opt for lightweight and breathable materials with a secure fit around the chest to prevent slipping. Consider harnesses like the Puppia Soft Dog Harness.

Q4: Are there harnesses specifically designed for no-pull training?

A: Yes, some harnesses, like the Ruffwear Front Range Harness, are designed for no-pull training. They often feature front leash attachment points to discourage pulling behavior.

Q5: Can I use a harness as a car safety restraint for my dog?

A: Yes, some harnesses, such as those with a sturdy design and reliable attachments like the Kurgo Journey Dog Harness, can double as car safety restraints to secure your dog during car rides.

Q6: How do I clean and maintain my dog’s harness?

A: Spot clean with a damp cloth for surface dirt. For deeper cleaning, hand wash the harness in warm, soapy water. Allow it to air dry completely before use. Regularly inspect for wear and tear, and replace as needed.

Q7: What signs indicate that my dog’s harness may not fit properly?

A: Watch for rubbing or chafing, slipping or shifting during walks, and signs of difficulty breathing, especially in brachycephalic breeds. Regularly check the tightness of the straps and adjust as needed.

Q8: Can I customize my dog’s harness?

A: Some harnesses, like the Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness, offer replaceable patches for customization. It allows you to add a personal touch and practical elements, such as displaying your dog’s name.

Q9: Are there eco-friendly harness options available?

A: Yes, for environmentally conscious pet owners, there are harnesses made from eco-friendly and sustainable materials. Explore options that contribute to a greener pet industry.

Q10: How can I ensure my dog stays comfortable during extended wear?

A: Choose a harness with breathable materials, provide regular breaks during long walks, and be mindful of the temperature, especially in hot weather. Monitor for behavioral changes and signs of irritation, adjusting the fit as needed.

Q11: Can I seek recommendations from my veterinarian when choosing a harness?

A: Absolutely! Consulting with your veterinarian is crucial, especially if your dog has specific health conditions or unique needs. They can provide valuable insights into choosing the right harness for your pet.

Q12: What should I do if my dog dislikes wearing a harness?

A: If your dog is hesitant, introduce the harness gradually with positive reinforcement. Associate it with treats and praise, start with short indoor sessions, and incrementally increase the duration


As we wrap up this comprehensive guide, let’s recap the essential points covered. Armed with this knowledge, you’re well-equipped to make an informed decision when selecting the right harness for your beloved pet. Here’s to happy and comfortable adventures with your furry friend


  • Kyle Moore

    Kyle founded Kalook to merge his professional life with his love for the outdoors. When not working, Kyle enjoys hiking through nature, biking, camping, relaxing at the beach, exploring snowy terrains and forest walking.

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