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An introduction to dog harnesses

Dog harnesses are amazing tools for dog owners that offer a wide variety of benefits over the old method of using only a traditional collar. There are so many different types of dog harnesses that exist on the market today that it can be overwhelming to dog parents who just want something that will work well for their dog.

Whether you have a small dog who loves to pull you on walks or a larger breed who needs some extra support and direction, there is a harness out there that can help you and your furry friend enjoy your time together.

The benefits of dog harnesses

One of the primary benefits of utilizing a dog harness is safety. In the past, collars were more common when walking a dog. However, doing so would often be unsafe and even harmful to the dog.

When a dog pulls, collars put undue strain and pressure on their necks, which over time, can lead to serious damage to the neck and throat. In some breeds, pressure around their neck can even result in a collapsed trachea!

A harness, on the other hand, helps evenly distribute pressure throughout the dog's chest, shoulders, and back, as opposed to its neck.

Another great benefit of harnesses is that they are more secure! Dogs are clever little beings, and some can easily manage to slip out of a collar which can be quite a predicament.

The best type of harness for dogs can be secured on various parts of the dog's body, which often makes it all but impossible for a dog to slip out of them.

Additionally, some harnesses can even help discourage pulling behavior in dogs!

List of various types of harnesses

Back-clip harness/Step-in harness

One of the most common types of harnesses is a back-clip or step-in harness. These are ideal for dogs who already walk quite well on a leash. The back-clip harness, or step-in harness as it is sometimes referred to, is great for dogs who typically walk nicely on the leash but may sometimes pull or lunge when they get excited.

By attaching the leash to the D-ring clip on the back of their harness, we can help prevent neck damage and trauma that can be caused by collars.

Front clip harness

Front clip harnesses are typically some of the best harnesses to use for dogs that love to pull. Front clip harnesses have a D-ring clip on the front of the chest where the leash can be connected.

With the leash connected to the front of their chest, if the dog pulls ahead of you, the leash will go off to the side instead of straight back. If you then apply just a little bit of pressure, it will encourage your dog to fall back to your side.

Head halter harness

While these aren't necessarily true harnesses, head halter harnesses can still be a wonderful tool for those working on correcting pulling behavior with their dog.Most types of head halter harnesses typically consist of a loop that fits over the dog's nose and another loop that fits behind the dog's ears. The leash is attached to a ring on the bottom of the nose loop. This allows the owner to have directional control and prevents the dog from pulling.

Dual clip harness

Much like it sounds, a dual clip harness offers the best of both worlds, with a D-ring attachment on both the front chest and on top of the back of the harness. This allows you to clip the leash wherever you prefer! If your dog is a heavy puller, clip the leash to the front chest. As your dog starts to improve and not pull so much, you can then graduate them to having the leash clipped on the back D-ring!

Pros and cons of different types of harnesses

Back-clip/step-in Harnesses


  • It can double as a car safety harness by clipping a dog seat belt to the back clips' D-ring.
  • Easy to put on. All you have to do is lay it on the ground, have your dog step in, lift up the sides, and then clip!
  • The leash doesn't get tangled in their legs.
  • Dogs who like to chew on their leashes during walks can't access the leash to chew on it.


  • Dogs who pull may find it even easier to pull as there is no strain on their neck now.
  • Doesn't offer much in the way of directional control, so it may not be ideal for dogs who want to walk their owners!
  • It can be uncomfortable for the dog if fitted or sized improperly.

Front-Clip Harness


  • Discourages dogs from pulling.
  • Owners can maneuver the leash to encourage the dog to move left or right.


  • Because the leash attaches to the clip on the chest area of the harness, the leash can easily get tangled under the dog's feet.
  • Like any collar or harness, it can cause pain or discomfort if fitted and sized improperly.

  • Dual-Clip Harness


    • It can provide additional security when owners utilize two leashes, one on each clip.
    • You can have two styles of harnesses without buying two different harnesses.
    • Cons:

      • It can be more difficult to put on the first time due to more straps and clips to adjust.
      • It may be uncomfortable for the dog if improperly fitted.

      Head Halter Harness


      • It can be a powerful teaching tool for dogs that pull.
      • It allows the owner to have directional control.
      • It can help guide and redirect a dog's attention.


      • Requires a very slow and careful introduction to the dog so as not to frighten the dog or cause a negative association.

How to buy the perfect harness for your dog

The most important thing to do before you start looking through all the different types of harnesses for dogs is to ask yourself, "What is the purpose of buying a harness for my dog?"

There are so many types of dog harnesses and collars out there that it can easily become overwhelming. Determining the exact purpose or reason for getting the harness will quickly help you narrow down your search.

Do you have a dog who walks great on the leash, but you are worried about the strain the collar puts on her neck? A back-clip harness would likely be perfect for you!

Or maybe your dog has gotten into a bad habit of pulling on the leash, and you need a little extra help teaching him not to pull. You'd probably find a front-clip harness or dual-clip harness to be a great help. And, of course, if your dog is notorious for pulling, jumping, or lunging, a head halter harness can be a great training tool when used appropriately.

Once you've determined the purpose for the harness, consider the size and breed of your dog and any specific needs they may have when selecting a halter.

Take the time to properly fit the halter to your dog and introduce them to it gradually to ensure they are comfortable and at ease. By following these guidelines, you'll be sure to find a halter that works best for both you and your furry friend.


Is it safe to have my dog wearing the harness all day long?

If the harness is comfortable enough and does not restrict the movement of your dog, then it is safe. Do check periodically for any issues on the skin for abrasions.

Can my dog wear a collar and a harness at the same time?

Many owners prefer to have both collars and harness for their dogs. They key is to observe your dog to ensure that she is comfortable. Having a collar and a safety clip can serve as an added security.

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