How to Put on a Dog Harness

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Taking your precious fur baby for a walk need not be a stressful task. While some pet owners use a collar and lead, others opt for a safer harness option. Let’s look at why harnesses are so popular, the types of harnesses available, and how to harness your dog before you embark on your daily walk.

Collar Vs. Harness: Is One Better than the Other?

Your choice of using a collar or harness ultimately comes down to personal preference and how well your dog walks on a lead. While we could say that larger breeds fare better with a harness due to their strength, there are smaller, high-energy breeds that just do not do well with a collar and leash. These include Jack Russels, Maltese Poodles, and Staffordshire Terriers. 

Here are a few points to consider when choosing between a collar and a harness for your dog:

  • Does your dog pull on the lead when walking?
  • Does your dog try and slip out of her collar to get away while on a walk?
  • Is your dog overly energetic?
  • Is your dog skittish and nervous while on walks?

If you agree with any or all of these important questions, a harness would be a better option when taking your dog for a walk. 

Pros of using a Harness

Collars are not a bad option and can do just fine for the right dog. A harness is a great option for those who need extra security and preventative measures when walking their dog. Let’s look at a few pros of using a harness:

  • A harness is more comfortable than a collar and fits over the whole body rather than just sitting on the neck.
  • It is near impossible for a dog to slip out of a harness and run into oncoming traffic.
  • A harness can prevent injuries a dog can sustain from pulling on a collar.
  • Say goodbye to a tangled lead when using a harness for your dog. 

These are a few of the many advantages of using a harness when walking your dog. The safety and comfort of your dog should always be the first priority, and a harness can provide both. 

Choosing a Harness

Now that you have made the great choice of using a harness for your walks, there are a few more extras you might want to consider when selecting the best harness for your pup. 

#1: Comfort

Comfort is key when choosing a harness. Look at fabric types, extra padding, how the harness fits your dog, and how easy it is to put the harness on your dog and take it off again. Harnesses are available in various fabrics like leather, nylon, and other synthetic fibers that are comfortable and reduce sweat build-up.

#2: Safety

A harness should fit your dog properly to ensure your pup can’t slip out of it while on walks. Measure your dog and choose a harness that will fit snuggly without restricting movement or hurting your dog. To test this, fit at least two fingers between the harness and your dog’s skin for larger breeds and one finger for smaller breeds. Suggested breeds are often listed on the harness packaging to make choosing a harness for your specific dog breed easy. 

#3: Front or back clip

Front and back clip options are available on all harnesses. A front-clip harness has a lead attachment on the chest area, while a back clip harness has the attachment located on the dog’s back. Both are a great option and prevent the lead from getting tangled in the dog’s front legs while walking. 

A front-clip harness gives you more control over your dog, while a back clip harness is easier to put on.  

#4: Extra features

You might choose a harness with reflective trim if you prefer taking your dog for a walk in the cool evening air. Other extra features that could benefit you include a handle, a variety of colors and patterns, and a waterproof option that will prevent your pup from getting too hot and will absorb the sweat that builds up under the straps of a harness. 

Extra padding is also available, but this can be rather pricey. 

How to Harness Your Dog

Now that we’ve looked at why a harness is a good choice, the types of harnesses available, and extra features that you can look out for when choosing a harness, it is time to go through exactly how to put a harness on your dog. 

There are three types of harness to choose from, and each is put on differently.

Standard Harness

Place the harness over your dog while seated or standing still. Place the wider loop with the buckle over the first leg, and repeat with the second loop. Buckle the harness over the dog’s belly and adjust the straps accordingly. The harness should fit well and be snug but not tight. 

Step-in Harness

This is a great harness for larger breeds and is easier to put on than a standard harness. Place the harness on the floor and guide your pup’s paws into the two loops or triangles. Bring the two pieces or loops of the harness up and over your dog’s legs, clip the harness together, and check that it fits properly. Adjust the straps if need be.  

Front-clip Harness

Kneel at the side of your dog. Place the loop of the harness over the head and gently pull the paw through the loop of the harness. Bring the clips together and clip them together over your pup’s belly. This harness is one of the easiest to put on and has a lead attachment on the front of the chest. Once again, check for comfort and that the harness is not too tight by placing your fingers between the straps and your dog’s skin. Adjust if necessary. 


A harness is a great alternative to the usual collar and lead combo that many people use to take their dogs for a walk. Not only is a harness safer and more comfortable for your pup, but it also gives you more control over a boisterous dog and is easy to put on.

Choose a harness that fits well and will not restrict your pup’s movements. Harnesses are available in various patterns, colors, fabrics, and lead clip options. Always remembers to check that there is sufficient space between the strap of the harness and your dog by doing the finger test we outlined in the article. Happy walkies!

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