The best dog harness can provide a better and safer way to walk your pet. Harnesses come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and colors, designed to suit every price range and need. Some types of dogs, especially large breeds such as labradors and German shepherds, will do much better using a harness than a collar because a harness will place pressure on the chest instead of the neck. This works to remind a dog not to pull and also helps to prevent them from doing so in the future. So, whether you have a large or small breed dog, using a harness is a much safer and more effective alternative than a collar. But finding the right harness will depend on many factors including dog size, breed, age personality, and training.
I’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you find the perfect model for your pet, in addition to including six of the top models on the market. Each of these harnesses has something special to offer whether you’re looking for a model that will deter your pet from pulling, or a secure safety harness that will protect your small breed dog and prevent them from slipping the harness as soon as you head out the door. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart which will include each of the models that made it onto my list, how they rated, and their top features.
Think Pet No Pull Harness
This sporty no-pull harness is designed for medium and large breed dogs. The harness has a no-choke design that features a couple of metal clips for improved control. The chest clip works to prevent a dog from pulling, while the clip located on the back can be used for dogs that have no pulling issues. The harness itself is easy to put on and adjust using the heavy-duty nylon buckle. On the straps you’ll find reflective material, which will make your pet highly visible in poor light conditions.
- Highly adjustable
- Reflective strips
- Two attachment options
- Not designed for small breeds
This highly adjustable harness is perfect for dogs of all ages. Owners can use the chest attachment for dogs that are new to leash walking, or for dogs that are prone to pulling. This model is available in several colors and size options, and also comes equipped with a handle located on the back, for extra control for those hyperactive dogs that lunge.
Voyager Step-in Air Dog Harness
This breathable, all-weather harness is made out of mesh and features a lightweight design that’s comfortable and highly adjustable. On the sides of the harness, you’ll find two reflective bands that make your pet highly visible, so the harness is perfect for use in low light conditions. The loop and hook fastener will help you easily adjust the fit of the harness, which will prevent your pet from backing out of it during a walk. The double D ring design will let pet owners choose the correct attachment point based on how well their pet walks on a leash. The D ring on the back is designed for casual walks and for pets who are leash trained, while the D ring on the chest can be used for dogs that pull.
- Available in 27 color options
- 2 D ring attachments
- Difficult to put on
This model is available in a variety of sizes, but it’s only designed for small and medium sized breeds. For many, learning how to put the harness on and adjust it properly will take some practice. Overall, the breathability, durability, and attachment options make this model a great buy, despite the difficulty that will come with learning how to correctly use it.
Poy Pet No Pull Dog Harness
This no pull harness is equipped with a couple of buckles located on the belly straps, and an additional quick snap buckle on the neck, which makes it easier to put the harness on and take it off. The harness also features a couple of D ring attachments, complete with reinforced webbing. The front D ring is designed to prevent dogs from pulling, while the back D-ring attachment is for dogs who are leash trained. The harness is made out of breathable mesh material and padding, for ultimate comfort. The reflective strips on the sides of the harness will make your dog visible during your evening walks, a must-have safety feature that not all harnesses have. The top of the harness features a padded handle, which can be used if you need to grab your pet quickly in the event they lunge, or there’s an aggressive dog in the area and you need to remove your pet quickly.
- Padded handle
- Stretchy belly straps
- Easy to adjust
- Can cause chafing
This harness is designed for breeds of all sizes and is available in fifteen color options. The stretchy, breathable design will ensure your dog remains comfortable during their walk, even in hot weather. Additionally, the manufacturer offers a one hundred percent satisfaction guarantee, which will give all dog owners more of an incentive to buy.
Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
This model is perfect for large breed dogs and features a patented no pull no choke design that will allow pet owners to easily control their dogs on a walk. The front chest attachment can be used for dogs who pull, while the back attachment is designed for casual walking. The harness is also easy to put on and remove, using the included two fast-release buckles.
- Easy to put on and remove
- Two attachment points
- Runs a size large
This model is made out of heavy-duty nylon Oxford material and comes equipped with reflective strips on the sides that will ensure safe walking at night and early morning. The durable design is perfect for large breed dogs who are normally hard to handle on a walk.
ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness
This tactical dog harness comes with a couple of metal buckles that will secure the harness tightly in place, preventing a dog from easily slipping it. The front chest attachment point will prevent your dog from pulling you during a walk, giving you more control. The back attachment point is designed for dogs that are already leash trained. The large handle on the top of the harness will give you more control during a walk, especially if you’re walking through a crowd or there are loose dogs in the area.
- Large handle
- Two leash attachment points
- Escape proof
- Not breathable
This harness is very durable and is perfect for large breed dogs. It features a couple of heavy-duty metal attachment points that have been load tested up to one thousand pounds, an adjustable design that allows you to achieve the perfect fit, and a large padded handle that’s easy to grasp and designed to give you more control during a walk. Overall, this is a great buy for the large breed dog but considering the thickness of the material and lack of mesh used, this model should not be used in warmer weather since it lacks the breathability needed to keep a dog cool.
BABYLTRL Big Dog Harness
Considered one of the best harnesses for medium sized dogs, this model features the no pull design that will give you total control when you walk your dog, since the location of the D ring attachment will pull the dog into you, if your dog begins to pull and you pull up on the leash. This model also comes with a back D-ring attachment that can be used once your dog learns to not pull you. The harness is highly adjustable and comes with quick snap buckles that make the harness easy to put on and take off.
- Quick snap buckles
- Highly adjustable
- Reflective strips make dogs highly visible
- Runs a size large
Built tough, your dog will have a hard time slipping this harness. The reflective strips throughout the design will make your pet highly visible at night or in the early morning, for a safer walking experience. The durability of the harness and the fact that it’s very easy to put on and to remove makes this model a must-have for any pet owner who is constantly struggling with a puller.
Dog Harness Buyer’s Guide
If you’re tired of losing control of your dog whenever you head out the door for your morning walk, then a harness may be the perfect solution. Many dogs get very excited when it’s time for their morning walk. This can lead to the dog pulling, or trying to head in a different direction, or lunging at people that you encounter on your walk. A harness is a powerful training tool that can give you back control over your pet during a walk. A dog that pulls can make for a dangerous situation, especially if you’re walking in a high traffic area or your pet is animal or dog aggressive. However, there are many different types and styles of harnesses to choose from. The model you choose for your pet will depend on a variety of factors including breed type, energy level, training, and more.
There are many benefits linked to harness use, and several reasons why dog trainers recommend harness use over collars. I’ll go more in-depth about why harnesses are a better alternative and why both you and your dog will enjoy a better walking experience once you make the switch. Dog Harness Benefits
- The right dog harness can be the perfect training tool for young dogs who haven’t learned how to walk on a leash. Harnesses will prevent dogs from getting tangled up in the leash and potentially hurt in the process. They also offer better control which is very important especially when you’re navigating busy city streets or trying to make it through a crowd.
- If you have a very large dog who is strong, then using a harness will give you more control and will make walking your dog much easier on your back and arms.
- Small breed dogs are prone to injuries caused by tugging or pulling on the leash. Using a harness will disperse the pressure over a large area of the dog’s body. This works to reduce strain on their back and neck.
- Wearing a harness will discourage your dog from pulling. When your dog is wearing a collar and begins to pull on their leash, they’re moving forward, so they know that pulling is a successful way to get where they want to go.
- Whether attached between the shoulder blades or on the chest, a harness will redirect your dog; your dog will not feel rewarded by pulling you because doing so will not get them anywhere.
- If your pet needs some assistance getting up off the floor after they have been sitting or lying down, then using the attached handle found on the top of most models can allow you to pull them up gently without causing any discomfort or pain.
- If your dog is an escape artist, then a harness is a great solution, since they are more difficult to slip out of than a collar.
Once you’ve decided to make the switch from a collar to a harness the next step is choosing a model that will work for your specific pet. There are many different styles and options available. Below, I’ll go over the different styles to choose from, to help you narrow down your choices and find the perfect harness for your pet.
You’ll find several different material options to choose from including nylon, cotton, and polyester. Harnesses made from nylon are said to be the most durable and more breathable than a harness made out of polyester.
Is a tough material, with some stretch to it, but it’s not very breathable. The lack of breathability can make this material a poor choice for pet owners who live in hotter climates or for activities such as jogging.
Most top models are made out of a thick nylon material that can be found in a variety of colors. Nylon is very durable and breathable, which is why it’s the most commonly used type of material for harnesses.
Mesh harnesses are breathable, lightweight are a good choice for the very active dog or for hotter climates. Soft mesh is a great choice for puppies, dogs with sensitive necks, and toy breeds.
With a harness, the right size is everything. A poor fitting harness can allow a dog to easily slip out of it and make a run for it. A harness that fits too tight can cause chafing and sores. Before you begin shopping for a new model, first measure your dog around the chest and shoulders. When you’re shopping online for a harness, take a look at the manufacturer’s size chart, which will include the measurements and sizing recommendations, based on breed size. If the harness fits correctly, you should be able to slip a couple of fingers between the harness and your dog’s skin.
A model that’s highly adjustable is a must. Many models will allow you to loosen or tighten the straps in order to provide a secure, comfortable fit. A harness that’s highly adjustable will also prevent your dog from easily backing out of a harness and escaping. Finding a model that’s highly adjustable in several areas will be important in order to provide a fit that can allow them to move comfortably without chafing, sores, rashes, or generally discomfort. At a minimum, you should be able to adjust the harness around the neck and chest.
You’ll also come across some models that have a pocket or two. Pockets aren’t usually a must-have feature for a harness, but if you’re taking your pet for a long hike or on a camping trip, then pockets will come in handy and can allow you to store a collapsible water dish, treats, and your personal items.
Types of Dog Harnesses
Once you’ve decided to use a harness, the next step is determining which one is best for your dog. These harnesses have a variety of features that can help you to choose the right one.
A back-clip harness comes equipped with a D ring that’s attached on the back. This design is probably the most common and it’s comfortable and easy to use for most pets. The D ring attachment places the leash far away from the trachea, so it’s a great choice for small dogs.
However, the downside to this style is that it gives the user less control and will not discourage a pet from pulling. So, if you have a large breed dog that drags you all over the neighborhood or a dog that lunges during a walk, then you’ll want to pass this style on by.
A front clip harness is not quite as common as a back clip, but using one of these harnesses offers several advantages especially for dogs that are prone to pulling. The position of the D ring attachment makes it more difficult for a dog to pull their owner wherever they want to go. The placement of the leash point attachment will pull the dog towards the owner instead of forward, if the user pulls back on the leash to slow a dog down. This gives the owner more control during a walk. Because of this, front clip harnesses are usually favored by dog trainers for people with large breed dogs. The downside to this style of harness is that it’s more likely to become tangled around a pet’s legs.
A dual-clip style harness will offer the best of both worlds. While the rear clip is usually the attachment used for casually guiding a dog on a walk, the front clip can be relied upon when a dog begins to pull. The combination of the front and rear clip will allow pet owners to make the switch from the front attachment to the back attachment once a dog has mastered how not to pull. However, there are some drawbacks to this style. Dual attachment harnesses are often more expensive compared to the other options. However, if you need extra control over your pet during a walk then this type of harness is worth every penny.
A vest harness is often heavily padded on the chest and features a simple design that allows you to easily slip this harness on and adjust it for the perfect fit. However, most models will have a clip located on the back, which makes them a poor choice if you have a dog that’s a puller.
Why a Harness is a Safer Alternative
A collar can create strain on a dog’s windpipe. In some cases, collars can also place unnecessary strain and pressure on the spine. Using a harness instead of a choke chain collar can prevent the hacking effect, choking, and difficulty breathing that a dog can experience when they try to pull you forward quickly. Additionally, small breed dogs are more prone to trachea injuries than large breed dogs. The pressure placed on the trachea can have unexpected consequences such as tracheal collapse, soft tissue damage, bruising, and an increase in eye pressure. Pressure from collars can also lead to musculoskeletal problems.
How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness
As I mentioned earlier, measuring your dog for a harness before you buy will be important. Different styles of harnesses may require different measurements to ensure a proper fit. In most cases, the technique I use below to measure a dog will provide the measurements you’ll need to use for most styles.
Before by measuring your pet’s chest. Measure around the dog’s body, beginning at the bottom of the rib cage at the widest part, right behind the legs, then go up and over the back and down to where you began.
To measure the neck, you’ll wrap the tape around the thickest part of the dog’s neck, which is right at the top of their shoulders. Next, you’ll measure the narrowest part of their neck where their collar rests.
Last of all, weigh your dog. Many brands of harnesses will also include weight as part of their sizing requirements. If you’re not able to weigh your dog on a scale, then you can look up the average weight for their breed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Harness Hurt My Dog?
A harness that doesn’t fit properly can be uncomfortable for a dog, especially if it fits too tightly. A poor fit can cause rubbing if the harness is too loose and doesn’t fit snug against the body. A loose harness also increases the risk of a dog slipping out of the harness.
How Tight Should a Dog Harness be?
A harness should fit snug, but not too tight. It should be snug enough that a dog is unable to back out of it and the D ring attachment should rest higher up on the chest.
Can I Leave a Dog Harness on All Day?
No. Leaving a harness on day and night can be very uncomfortable. Additionally, a harness that’s wet should also not be left on since it can cause a skin infection. Wearing a harness for an extended period of time can lead to skin chafing and general irritation.
Do Harnesses Stop Dogs from Pulling?
A no-pull harness can help to eliminate or reduce pulling behavior. In general, harnesses are a good choice for walking since they can remove the strain that’s placed on a dog’s neck and can give the owner more control. A no-pull harness for large breed pets that pull will be a true lifesaver for the dog owner.
Is it Ever too Late to Start Training a Dog?
No. Whether you’re rescuing an older dog from a shelter, or you’ve decided to train your older family dog, there’s no reason you can’t start training them right away. In fact, many older dogs are familiar with basic obedience commands.
Choosing the best dog harness for your pet should be based on their age, size, training, and their usual behavior when you take them out for a walk. There are many styles and options to choose from which can make narrowing down your choice more difficult. However, this guide, combined with the six product recommendations that I’ve included here should help to make that choice much easier. Finding the perfect harness for your pet can be a total game-changer and can make a normally chaotic walk that involves pulling and struggling for power, relaxing, mentally stimulating, and exciting. I hope this guide and the products I’ve included here will help you find a type of harness that will benefit both you and your pet as you explore the great outdoors and enjoy some much-needed one on one time.