Choosing a Dog Harness – Best Ones and How to Use

You in the market for a harness? Well
stick with me and I’ll give you the lowdown on what to get, why, and how to
use it best. Ian here with Simpawtico Dog Training and
before we jump into the ins and outs of harnesses, please make sure you’re
subscribed so you never miss any of our videos. Also don’t miss my specific
recommendations for which harnesses to buy at the end of the video. Although dog
collars have been around since ancient Egypt we are not really sure who the
first person to harness a dog was. In Canadian Thule sites from around 1000 A.D.
there’s archaeological evidence of dog harnessing. There are historical records in Arabian literature of the 10th century regarding the use of sled dogs in the
subarctic. And in the 13th century Marco Polo wrote about seeing dog sleds in the
steppes of Siberia. Even the Chinese wrote about dog sleds in examples of their
14th century poetry. At any rate harnesses have gone through roughly
three birthing periods: the first was when we harnessed dogs to
sleds. At this point dogs were working animals, not companions. The sleds
allowed us to traverse ice, snow and even muddy conditions that precluded horses
or carriages. The second was when we developed smaller breeds and dogs started
moving into companion territory. Dogs were being bred to hang out rather than
work and harnesses allowed us to pull them to safety without breaking their
necks. The third of course is the modern age where harnesses of many, many types are available at most pet stores and dogs run the full gamut for everything from
working animals to companions. Nowadays there are so many configurations and
intended purposes you got to go in knowing what you need. That’s what this video is all about.
Today there are essentially two main categories of harnesses: body harnesses
and front hook harnesses. Each one serves different overall purposes. Let’s first
talk about the main reason people get harnesses in the first place: because
their dogs pull. Now, you’ve probably been told you need a harness at some point by
a well-meaning pet store employee or friendly neighbor. However putting a body harness on your
dog will just make pulling worse. You’ve got to come at the problem from a
different angle–literally. When your dog’s wearing a body harness and they start
forging ahead, it’s natural for us to hold them back, even to try to pull them back.
Since harnesses were originally invented to attach dogs to dog sleds, then by
design a harness redistributes pressure onto the dog’s frame. In essence this makes it more comfortable pull. Thus, the problem just becomes a test of strength
and reduces it to oppositional forces. With the dog’s lower center of gravity and
powerful back legs you’re going to have a struggle no matter what kind of dog you
have. Let’s do this smarter. Let’s not try to muscle the dog
into compliance. Instead of oppositional energy it’s much easier to convert it to
rotational energy. This is the principle behind the front hook harness. If the dog
pulls the harness starts to turn their body around and the dog won’t go in a
direction they are not facing. Bottom line: a front hook harness is the best choice
for a dog that pulls, not a body harness. As with any training tool though the
ultimate goal is to use it as a weigh station and phase out of the tool over
time. A well-mannered, nonreactive dog that walks nicely unleash could then go back to a flat collar or body harness. Likewise, there are definitely instances
when a front hook harness is an inappropriate choice and a body harness is better. The two most prevalent examples for the
modern pet owner are if you tie your dog out or when you’re traveling in a car. A
body harness is far superior in these instances over a front hook harness or
even a collar. A back hook body harness is also better if you engage in athletic
activities with your dog such as jogging, agility, frisbee or fetch, or dock driving.
A front hook harness can somewhat impede the full range of motion in the
shoulders. Also if your dog is well-trained and walks
politely, using a body harness is really a non-issue anyways. I in some cases,
especially if you live in hilly areas, you may want to train your dog to pull.
Any dog trainer worth their salt knows that putting an annoying behavior on cue
builds an off switch for it. Training your dog to pull when you want
can help cease pulling at other times. A body harness is best in this regard. So let’s break this down a bit: the pros
of a front harness are that it’s the best option for helping train a dog to
stop pulling; it’s easier to put on and remove (most of
the best brands are lickety-split on and off). On the other side though they can be
chewed up if they’re left on so they’re not recommended to be worn all of the
time, and they’re not recommended for tying out, riding in the car, or for
athletic activities. The pros of a back hook or body harness are that they can
be worn all the time. They are appropriate for tying out or for
securing in a car; they’re better for athletic activities
with your dog, and they’re good secure safety for smaller dogs, perhaps even the
best choice for toy breeds. On the downside though they’re not recommended
for a dog that pulls, and they can be a pain to get on and off. Now there are also many body harnesses
and they’re labeled “no pull.” These use interesting configurations of cords and
straps to put pressure on different places on the dog’s body. I’ve given many
of these a series of test runs over the years and they’re all pretty
hit-and-miss in that regard. Plus they can be overpriced and
complicated to get on. As I’ve said many times before i’m an adherent of the KISS
principle: keep it simple, stupid. I don’t like having to maneuver a dog
around a lot just to get this stupid thing on. I don’t want to have to mess with that. I
want the harness to go on and off lightning fast. So for example the Sporn
no pull harness: it’s about 50/50 effectiveness. And for massive dogs it’s pretty useless. There’s also the
Freedom No Pull harness. It’s not bad but their system like many others relies too
heavily on the hardware. Two leashes? that’s absurd and gimmicky. Keep it
simple, stupid. Leverage is the key, along with solid training techniques. Any
company that promises to do the job for you is lying. Here are my harness
recommendations. As far as front hook harnesses go the Softtouch SENSE-ation is my favorite it’s durable simple and effective. The Petsafe Easy Walk is my second
choice. It’s also a pretty darn good harness. For body harnesses the Kong
Comfort Control Grip is my favorite overall. The handle allows the dog to be
restrained, lifted and even secured in a car without any additional equipment.
Both the Four Paws Comfort Control harness and the simply wag dog body
harness for little guys have breathable mesh that offer support and less
chaffing. These may be your best choice overall for small and/or portly dogs.
There are also some nifty hybrids out there that offer dual connection points
for the best of both worlds. For example the Ruffwear Front Range harness is
durable and well-made and features dual connection points on the back and the
front. It’s suitable for walking training and riding in the car. This is one of the highest rated
hybrids on the market right now incidentally. There’s also the Kurgo
Go-Tech Adventure harness. Reviews are fifty-fifty on the overall durability
though so use your discretion if you have a strong dog. Links to all of these
harnesses are in the description. So good luck choosing a harness if you need one. Here’s a question: what’s been your experience with harnesses and what harnesses do you
recommend? Let’s connect in the comments. Don’t
forget to thumbs up this video if it helped you out and as always keep
learning keep, practicing and i’ll see you soon. Thanks for watching!

100 thoughts on “Choosing a Dog Harness – Best Ones and How to Use

  1. I like to use Julius-K9 IDC-harnesses on my Belgian Tervurens(2 of them) simply because they fit them well and are easy to put on/take off. On the other hand I do not rely on the equipment to stop pulling. That has to come from somewhere else. I use harnesses and collars about 50/50, depending on what I am going to do with my dogs.

  2. As an animal chiropractor I would highly recommend training your dog not to pull, as well. I have often seen dogs who need to be adjusted in the shoulder because of pulling with a harness!

  3. Have to recommend Rukka harness with front and bodyclip, durable and has a lot of places to adjust the size, good for growing puppies!

  4. My dog pulls and my reason for is so she doesn't choke herself. Doesn't know about front hooks, now I wanna teach her to not pull.

  5. Wow wow wow!!! I was going to buy a wrong harness for my golden but you just made me to get a correct one! Thank you so much!!! I also tried all different kinds of harnesses but I think the front hook harness makes sense. Thank you again!

  6. If you want people to listen and hear what you are saying cut the irritating background muzak – it is totally unnecessary and interferes with your message.

  7. Some harnesses are ok, I had a halti harness which had a front and back clip, i used the front clip for walking my 74 pound labrador (34kg) and used the back clip when letting him run in a field with a 10ft leash for recall. The only downside to this harness was it didnt fit properly and would slide down his chest, i tried tightening it but it didnt work. I also have an ezydog harness which does nothing to stop him pulling but i use more in the car and recall training now. i currently have him on a slip-lead but am looking for a no pull harness as he tends to put a lot of pressure on his neck. I also tried the halti head collar but it rubbed on his face and made it sore, so quickly stopped using it.

  8. I have a 100lb Presa Canario and the easy walk front harness is great for his training! He loves other dogs and people so it’s good that when he starts pulling (to say hi) I can direct him to me and try to bring him back to good boy behavior. He is strong but I feel
    Confident that I can control him with the easy walk!

  9. I was really hoping the video was going to talk about weight pulling harness, cart, and sulky Driving harnesses. 🙁 oh well.

  10. What would be a good harness for my dog ? He’s a 1 year old German shepherd and pulls but he also manages to escape from his collars/ harness . I’d appreciate the help!

  11. I've got a step-in body harness for my staffy, but I can't get it to fit right! The chest strap is fine but I can't get the front tight enough before the harness has a thicker area. The connections point on her back will shift to either side as we walk

  12. Hi Ian.
    Would you recommend a front harness over head gear? I currently use Black Dog brand head gear for my rescue boxer x with limited success. Keen to try a harness if it’s going to be a better option.
    I already walk her religiously on same side, stop when pulling, use voice cues ‘back, back’. Really dont need my left arm to grow any more muscular ?
    I’m new to YouTube and your videos but I’m sold. Love them all ?
    Currently doing all my research for a new GSD puppy.
    The 2 puppy books by Dr Ian Dunbar are excellent. Thanks again ?

  13. I find it incredibly difficult to fit my chesty doberman into a harness. Most places offer the triangle style harness anymore, and that just does not work for a deep chested breeds.

  14. Just watching all your videos they are amazing! We are waiting to pick up our new puppy. (Working cocker spaniel) would you start with just a collar or go straight for a harness as well ? X

  15. I have a questions about training bicycling with your dog and harness for it. So far I have found putting the leash around the your waist with a bungee connected to dog to be best, But still not sure. I would be doing this with a Malinois once he was done growing.

  16. There are three main types of harnesses-those that clip on the dog’s back: those that connect to the leash at the dog’s chest and those that connect on the back and the chest (such as the Positively No-Pull Harness). Harnesses are a fantastic tool for teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash, and do not put the pressure on your dog’s neck and spine that a traditional collar does.

  17. In the video you mentioned that you can use the Ruffwear Front Range Harness in the car for restraint. What is the most effective way to do that since there is no seat belt loop like the Load Up Harness that they also make?

  18. Harnesses are awesome. A dog I used to walk had a tumor in it's neck removed and was putting on weight during the recovery period, wouldn't play or run around at all unless it was on a walk. He would have had to forgo any activity if they hadn't figured out which harness to get.

  19. Hi Ian, thanks for the great and very informative videos. I've just read an article saying that harnesses with horizontal front straps (like the Julius K9, which I use for both my Bostons) can cause restrictions in front-body movements and cause shoulder damage as a result. Do you have any thoughts or advice on this matter please?

  20. Never had a harness I lose my balance a lot so I’m trying to get a harness that I can walk my dog and he’s a big boy 89 pounds and it is a tendency of not pulling but just walking faster I really don’t know what kind of harness to get I am stuck there I bought one harness and it just didn’t work out it’s starting to fall apart so I don’t know what kind of harness to get that’s all I can say and I’m 70 years old so I can’t be falling over my dog Thank you my name is Victoria

  21. Good Morning, we are adopting an 8 month old Boston Terrier. We are picking him up after he has recovered from being neutered. Is it recommended to purchase the harness before we pick him up or should we wait and have him fitted? He is 25 pounds. We are thinking of getting the Ruffwear Front Range Harness. I have been watching your videos and wish I had done this when we had our two pugs! Excellent resource. Thank you.

  22. When you realized you blind bought the 2nd recommended front harness, score!
    Love watching your videos and all the knowledge you are sharing.

  23. SPORN Easy Fit Harness: Ever tried this one? My grand-mother will be walking our new dog a lot but even simple harnesses can be tricky. I found this one that seems to be super easy for her what do you think? (tks by the way for the other vids, getting the ezydog 7' running leash:)…the hiking vidop good for me and my Shetland puppy.) Cheers I subbed up.

  24. I can't even figure out how to put them on, apparently I'm a major idiot cause no one on the internet has any information that gives me the slightest clue. I just bought a "step through", I feel it's missing a piece but that's because it looks different I guess because everyone I ever buy seems to be missing a piece ( again must be my imagination and lack of skill ) I just give up

  25. have you seen the truelove hybrid harness? similar t the ruffwear but better quality, dries quickly , and is cheaper. thoughts?

  26. Which front hook harness is good for large, heavy/strong dogs? I need one for my bull terrier and need recommendations. Please don’t say work on training because that’s obvious. I’m just looking for a harness to use in conjunction with training but I need one that’s strong enough and reliable enough for when my dog pulls like crazy. Thanks a lot 🙂

  27. I have a 1.5 yr boxer that does not pull me but it pulls in opposite direction to get out from collar I'm looking for the appropriate harness plz suggest one

  28. Fear of a harness. Also, I think I messed up desensitizing for a harness and made the fear worse. Here's the story: I tried luring in the harness with chicken, but went too fast with getting the harness over the head. I've watched your recommendations of Jean Donaldson and gentle leaders, used that idea. Targeting with the harness, feeding through the head loop, basically repurposing that video for harnesses. My dog went from crazy fearful ( would leave the harness on the ground and cover it with chicken) to okay with it, but rather not. Now any "Jean Donaldson" desensitization isn't working. She avoids it when it comes out, no matter how valuable the treats i use. Any suggestions?

  29. Actually my dog started to pull less on the body harness because she's further ahead of me which she likes

  30. I like the idea of front hook harnesses, but they just seem to murder a dogs armpits in reality. They are only worth doing if your dog is already a loose leaf walker… and if they are already there, why spend the money?!

  31. EasyWalk harnesses are corrective, inherently aversive tools. Any front clip harness is, but EasyWalk harnesses especially.

  32. I’m pregnant and pulled something walking my neighbors huge German Shepard dog. I can’t walk her anymore because she’s a huge puller. My dog doesn’t pull much, only when he sees a squirrel or is excited during the beginning of a walk he is strong though so I’m looking into a no pull harness. I hope it helps, I love taking long walks with my boy.

  33. I prefer using a regular harness because it does actually stop my dog from pulling (idk why) and if she does pull I don't feel like she's being choked but she hates putting it on so I usually just go with a pull resistant or extendable lead, depending on where we go

  34. Hi! Nice video, a bit too fast for me. Could you help us? I have a 22 kg Lagotto, that has just began having hind leg weakness. He's been diagnosed with degenerative myelopathia, and he still moves pretty well. I really want to take him to the beach with me to exercise in the water but he also pull a lot and isn't really used to being on the leash because we live in the countryside where he's free most of time.
    So I'm looking for a harness to reduce the pulling and that I can use to support him (a handle?) when necessary, he's a very excitable fellow.
    Any good ideas?
    Thank you

  35. Dude LOVE the music.
    Dancing my ass off over here!! ?
    Lmao or maybe I’m just easily entertained…
    Either way love your content lol

  36. Easy Walk Harness – but I struggle with the fit. I've landed on the Gentle Leader but would like to phase his off of this once he is older.

  37. My 75lb Staffie took off after a squirrel and ripped her kong harness straight through. ? Now I’m looking for the best one to keep her in but also keep her safe.

  38. Hello: I have a 23lb scottish terrier that wants to walk one way, but on the way home, I have to pull her. She rarely pulls me. I'm not sure which harness I should try. I did get the Sensation once and that didn't work for her. Thanks.

  39. Omg my dog is a super strong golden retriever and when I tried a collar walk I would get dragged on the ground and the petsafe easy walk is a life saver I love it and it's only should be used for walks

  40. Thank you. I was wondering how the D-ring on the front of the harness worked. I bought a body harness that has dual rings on it – mainly for when we are outside playing "Fetch." I live in an apt complex and there isn't a fenced off-leash area to exercise my dog so I usually tie her to a tree on a very long lead. But sometimes the toy goes further than her lead and she would get pulled up short at a dead run after the toy……not good for her neck, spine, and trachea! Now I know I can attach the leash to the front ring after the game is over and have some more control than I could with just with the rear attachment. 🙂 (She is 65 lbs of pulling power; Lab/Husky/Rottie mix!)

  41. I Love Her Go Brands but they're not really available in a lot of colors or one of their products will be available in more colors. I like to try to match and try to keep color specific to my dogs that have their specific collars harnesses Etc. Kirko does have a lifetime warranty. I love their harness with the bags because everything is adjustable on it

  42. After working in a kennel and walking other people's pulling dogs all day, I completely agree that Softtouch Sense-ation harness is the best for dogs that pull. Saves your arms from injury and makes teaching dog to walk on a loose leash SO much faster and easier.

  43. Do you have any recommendations for dogs that pull and can escape a normal harness? Ruffwear have the Web Master harness that would stop the dog from escaping the harness, but it doesn't seem to have a front attachment?

  44. What do you guys think about the plastic buckles?
    I honestly fear them on the front-ring harness, they seem breakable. (I have a big dog)

  45. I feel like the front hook harness would irritate their underarms. I’m not so sure this dude knows what he’s talking about…

  46. •my dog doesn’t pull
    •i live in a hilly area
    •i have a small dog
    •we have to travel by car a lot
    •i jog with my dog

    A body harness for me!

  47. Hi, for ease of use with my Yorkie, and also loved by my neighbors is the Ezydog quick fit harness. quick and easy to put on.

  48. I am getting a toy poodle in two weeks waiting for him to get cleared for at diseases , I am thinking of getting him a small harness ? For walking ? Or should I just get him a leash ? I am confused

  49. I don't understand why so much people suggest harness for pulling dogs. I didn't really think of it when we got our lab/husky mix rescue and bought one after the petstore clerk told me it would be the best option. WORST MOVE EVER and a dangerous one. The dog went into work mode and could use all her strenght to drag me, her husky side coming out as soon as she have a harness on . We now use it for hiking and it is the best. Would like to try the one who can be attached from the front thought, pulling is less an issue now but would like to see that completely resolve.

  50. i have had dogs all my life, but they had never been large enough to need a harness. I am trying to adopt this bull terrior i just fell in love with. She is a heavy chested pretty big girl! 42ish lbs. I got her a cushioned purple harness but i was worried that it would be seen as abusive. She is 5/6 years old and a crazy girl! The harness I got is one she steps into and then it clips and there is a hook on the back. It has a cushion built into it so, am hoping that won't rub or anything like that. Does anyone know about the "Vibrant Life Comfort Padded Harness" is it something i should keep on her at all times or should she have her regular collar on and i only use the harness for walking?

  51. Thanks for this information! I agree with KISS principle. Putting a complicated harness onto a shelter dog is stressful and timely and often requires two people. This video was very helpful and concise. 🙂

  52. We have used a back hook harness and our pup pulled BAD. We just purchased and used the Easy Walk harness…..OMG!!!! Awesome

  53. My dog got a back knee surgery a few months ago and the doctor told me to buy a harness instead of a collar because his neck was next to need surgery if I didn't remove the neck collar. His neck and front legs are starting to show some artritis. What harness would you recommend since his chest has long hair as he is an aussie. Thanks

  54. I recommend the kurgo journey my it works Great for my husky. He’s 80IBs and moves in it with ease. Can be used in the car, everyday wear, Ive gone though rocky paths on hikes and the clips are steel so they won’t break off.

  55. What Brand would you recommend for a tracking harness? Nylon, leather, hybrid? For a Bloodhound.

  56. I have a Samoyed pup 10 weeks old. I put a basic collar on and he was fine for awhile. About 2/3 through the walk it was like playing a fish.I had to pick him up and carry him back. Granted it was his first walk on a leash but I'm sure I need some sort of harness for a while. Can you recommend something ? Thanks

  57. Before I knew what I was doing st all, I used a harness on my miniature pinscher because he would pull so hard he would cough and sometimes choke ?

  58. I’d love to get a front hook harness for my new pup, but the smallest chest size I can find is is 13, which would be too big. Do you have any suggestions?

  59. I use a body harness for my dog when we go running and he has learned not to pull, he always run on my left side and I am teaching him "slow" and "stop" to jog or to cross the roads and stop fast if a car is coming.. I hold the lead in my hand but it's very annoying while running. Has anyone tried the belt with a hook to get attached to the dog by the hip? Do you guys have any other ideas on how can I run with my dog and be confortable? Thank you!

  60. I enjoy your videos and appreciate your advice. I would like a harness for my dog who actually walks quite well, not a big puller, however if we encounter another dog or situation , I feel more comfortable having something to grab onto. While he doesn’t pull, that goes out the window if a bunch of dogs are around. I don’t want him choking himself even though he doesn’t seem to care. BUT… he hates harnesses. I have tried a tactical vest where it doesn’t go over the head as well as harnesses that go over the head. I swear, you would think someone beat him with a harness as a puppy. I know that’s not the case, but that is how he acts. I have tried the whole desensitizing thing and making a positive experience out of it, it doesn’t matter. He goes right back to hating it. He has zero problems with a collar though. Any tips/advice?! Please and thank you!!

  61. My advice is don’t get the cheapest harness if it’s made with foam mesh, they brake super easily even on a dog who doesn’t pull!

  62. Ian, my favorite name, named my son Ian, he named his son Ian! Anyway, I like the Poypet No choke no pull training harness. Any thoughts on this one? I have really learned from your videos. Especially the one about bite inhibition. I have a black lab, 7 mos now. Thank you.

  63. i highly recommended a julius K9 IDC harness as you can buy a lot of chest straps that distribute pressure, including one that has a front D ring on it. And it's super easy to put on and off with one buckle. My dog uses the belt IDC harness but im soon getting a new red one as it matches her collar.

  64. I heavily recommend Julius k9 harnesses they're very well made and durable. They're a bit on the pricy side in terms of a harness, roughly £26-46 depending on size, sometimes colour (depending on how high demand is) and where you get it, I suggest buying it online as I did as I found it is much cheaper online with higher colour selection. I've found chain pet stores charging much higher than it would be online for the same size of harness and even then they order it from the same place so typically they look for profit. I mean would you rather pay £48 or £30 for the same item?

  65. I use the juliesk9 body harness. Works well, just restricts shoulder movement as the strap is over the chest and not a y shape. Busy looking for something different, as we do agility and hiking

  66. Videos are incredible, it is great to see the level of intellect that goes into this. Answers my every question… even the ones I did not know I had.

  67. I use a Md-textil WORKING DOG HARNESS … Made to measure with good buckles and attachments . Can have your specialized wished built into the harness . I have a Cane CORSO at 54 kg /64cm at the withers . I have a strobe light and high viability patches for night time visibility . Very easy to get on off . light very well made . Two points of contact are good. I don't agree with your OPINION .

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