The dog collar is an old reliable accessory, but it can be improved on. You need something that makes it easier to control your dog without restricting or hurting them, something reliable and secure. Perhaps it’s about time you learn how to put on a dog harness.

The traditional dog collar, though efficient in design, has had some historical shortcomings when it comes to function. The simple-clip on band has served many decades’ worth of use for a dog’s fashion, labeling, and method to connect a leash to. But let’s be real… they’re far from perfect.

For instance, you’re sure to know someone who’s got a dog who’s a master at giving the collar the old slip. They’re convenient to attach a leash to, but who actually likes feeling like it’s the dog walking them and not the other way around? Not to mention hard pulling clamps down on your friend’s neck.

What Is a Dog Harness?

There’s a chance you might have already noticed them at the park, or on your daily walk. If not, then it’s all the better a surprise. A dog harness is a handy accessory that you can dress your dogs in lieu of a collar. Connected with straps and snap-fit buckles, they’re traditionally in X or H patterns that fit around a dog’s chest, upper back, and front legs.

However, unlike with the fairly intuitive design of a collar, attaching a harness to your friend comes with a few more steps. It’s nothing that needs a degree to figure out, but I’m sure you want to be sure that your dog will be as comfortable as possible while wearing it.

Knowing how to put on a dog harness, like in the case of any instructions, is like building a model airplane. You could figure it out on your own, sure, but it’ll be better and faster with the proper know-how.

How Do You Put On a Dog Harness?

First things first, you’ll want to make sure that you’re picking out the right harness for your dog. Good materials and the right aesthetic are just as important as finding one in the right size. You want your dog to look and feel good while wearing it, after all. Finding a brand that prides itself on comfortable, sturdy materials means a harness that you’ll be able to use for years.

You’ll need to take your dog’s measurements, specifically those of their rib cage and chest. If your dog doesn’t fit easily into any measurement category, round up a size to make sure they won’t be constricted and hurt. The measurement chart commonly looks something like this:

  • Extra Small: 8-14 inches
  • Small: 10-20 inches
  • Medium: 16-28 inches
  • Large: 26-40 inches
  • Extra Large: 40 inches and up

Thankfully, there are plenty of dog harnesses that are adjustable, so you won’t have a million sizes to choose from. You should be able to ballpark it pretty easily, so your main concern should be quality and style. What’s the point of getting a harness if your dog doesn’t look good in it? Whether you prefer a mono-color style or patterned design, it should be a good fit for your furry friend.

Once you’ve picked out an appropriate harness, it’s time to learn how to put on a dog harness.

Types of Dog Harnesses

Some harnesses can get a bit tricky but, for the most part, they all follow a similar set-up. Plus, there are plenty of different harnesses, and they don’t all function the same.

Back Clip Harnesses

A back-clip harness is among the most comfortable options for your dog to get accustomed to. These harnesses, as the name implies, have their straps going around the chest and legs before clipping together along the back. They’re good for trained dogs or dogs that tend to choke on walks.

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Front Clip Harnesses

A front-clip harness is akin to the back-clip, except that the clip is on the front, along with the leash ring. A front-clip serves the opposite functions as a back-clip.

While a back-clip is for trained dogs, a front-clip is better suited to train unruly pups. They afford more control while walking, due to the position of the leash across the dog’s chest. These are better suited as training harnesses than casual wear.

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Tightening Harnesses

Tightening harnesses, like front-clip harnesses, are used to train your dog. While a front-clip may be suited for a wide variety of training purposes, tightening leashes are almost exclusively to teach a dog not to pull. When they do, the harness tightens up, restricting their movement until they let up.

You will have to make sure that you find a harness that doesn’t tighten too much, since that may cause pain.

Vest Harnesses

Vest harnesses are the softer, more stylized versions of the dog harness. If you have a dog that’s already well-trained and are just looking for something more comfortable than a collar for walks, this may be what you’re interested in.

Vest harnesses are made from softer, wider materials that are perfect for aesthetic enhancements.

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Comfort Harnesses

Like vest harnesses, comfort-wrap harnesses are more designed for your dog’s comfort than training.

They’ll usually be thicker, more comfortable, but function much like back-clip harnesses do in terms of how they’re put on.

Learning How to Put On a Dog Harness

For the most part, there are two simple methods for putting on a dog harness. Both of them may require a little bit of your dog getting used to the new accessory to avoid tangles and annoyance.

Since dog harnesses usually need to have a strap between their legs, your dog will need to learn to step into them.

Once your dog steps into the harness, you’ll be able to pull it up to their chest and clip it on from there. It’s not something that requires so much training, per se, but the more they get used to it, the easier it will be to put on.

Most dog harnesses are going to be step-in harnesses. It’s important to note that all the straps are flush against your dog’s fur. If the harness is put on incorrectly, it’ll be an uncomfortable and perhaps painful experience for your dog once you’re on the walk. All it takes it a little consideration and a quick check to make sure your pooch is ready for the outdoors.

Alternatively, there are also dog harnesses that can be slipped on over your dog’s head rather than having to be stepped into. For the most part, the harnesses that can be fitted over your dog are going to be of the more comfortable variety, like vest and comfort-wrap harnesses. They’re easier to put on, since they don’t require your dog’s cooperation to get into.

The style of harness you end up getting determines how you’ll put it on but, for the most part, you should always be sure of a few things.

Getting the Right Fit

When adjusting the dog harness, consider the following fit factors:

  • The harness should fit snugly, comfortably, and well.
  • The harness should go around each of the front legs.
  • The straps shouldn’t be twisted or improperly secured.

Should I Throw Out My Dog’s Collar?

For the most part, your dog harness won’t actually replace your dog’s collar. In fact, for most of the harnesses your dog will be able to wear their collar as well just fine.

The harness is used for a few things: training, comfort, identification, and walking. Unless you’ve been noticing severe discomfort when your dog wears a collar, the harness is something that’ll come on and off rather than be permanent.

Knowing how to put on a dog harness brings with it just as much knowledge about why you need one in the first place. You might need it for training your puppy, like how to walk beside you, behave themselves, or to teach a trick or two.

If a collar agitates your friend, the harness may be the perfect alternative. Chances are, if you’ve met a service dog, you can see why they wear harnesses and vests.

A dog harness has many advantages that a collar doesn’t have. You may simply not need one. If your dog is well-trained, happy, and comfortable in the clothing they have now, then why fix what isn’t broken?

So, keep that collar on hand if you decide that getting a dog harness is for you. You might need it, just in case.