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Are Step-In Dog Harnesses Really Safe & Secure?

Are Step-In Dog Harnesses Really Safe & Secure?

With all the different styles of dog harnesses out there, it can be challenging to know which one will be best for your four-pawed pal. The step in dog harness is one of the most basic and popular types, along with the dog harness vest style. When it is properly fitted, a step in dog harness will ensure your pet's safety and provide you with greater control for all of your daily activities and training. Keep reading to learn how to find the best step in dog harness for your dog. 

What Is a Step In Dog Harness?

As the name implies, a step in dog harness is worn by having your pet literally step into it. Once his front legs are through, the harness is brought up to the body and clipped together. It's essential to have an accurate chest measurement so that your pup can't slip out of the harness and get hurt. These harnesses are ideal for dogs with an aversion to vest-style harnesses that must be slipped on over the head. 

How to Safely Use a Step-in Dog Harness

While step-in harnesses are safe and secure for your dog, they can look impossible to put on! With all the straps and clips, it can be difficult to figure out at first. To help you out, the Pet&Cuddle experts have created a simple step-by-step guide to putting on a step in harness correctly and adjusting it to fit your dog in less than a minute. 

  • Step 1. Place the unbuckled harness on the ground in front of your dog. Make sure to align the harness correctly.
  • Step 2. Use a "sit" command to have your dog place his back legs on the ground for stability. You can also have someone hold your dog if that's easier for you. 
  • Step 3. Then, slip your dog's front paws through the left and right harness loops. 
  • Step 4. Pull the harness up onto your dog, making sure that it isn't too tight or loose. The leg loops should rest against the dog's belly at the top of his front legs. 
  • Step 5. Once you've ensured that the legs are through the correct loops and the harness is sitting correctly, secure the harness clips to attach the two sides of the harness together. You should hear a soft clicking sound that indicates it's been clipped correctly. 
  • Step 6. For an adjustable step in dog harness, take the time to ensure a perfect fit. First, slip two fingers underneath the straps. If there isn't enough slack for that, you'll need to loosen the straps. Then, try to pull the harness up over your dog's head or down his legs. If it comes off, the harness is too loose. 
  • Step 7. Once the harness is on, praise your dog and give him a high-value treat. The positive reinforcement will make putting on the harness easier and easier. You'll likely find that after a while, your dog will "help" you put the harness on by stepping into the harness himself!

Pros & Cons of Step-in Dog Harness

Regardless of what kind of pet accessory you're picking up, like a leash or harness, you need to make sure you're choosing the type and style that works for you and your pet. If you choose the wrong kind or one in a size that doesn't fit right, the new harness could just turn out to be, at best, a waste of time, effort, and money. At worst, it could lead to serious health issues or injuries for your dog. 

To learn if a step in dog harness is right for you, we've gathered a list of all the advantages and disadvantages of this style. 


  • Easy to put on - just help your dog step into it and clip on the straps.  
  • Simple to adjust – tighten or loosen any of the straps for a secure fit. 
  • Comfortable for movement - it won't rub your dog's sensitive underarm or belly skin and ensures freedom of movement. 


  • Not suitable for all breeds - some breeds with medium and long fur will feel discomfort from the harness rubbing their skin.
  • Can lead to serious dog injuries – make sure that you have the right size and adjustments to avoid injury. 
  • Are super easy to slip out of – it could be the perfect opportunity for smaller breeds and real escape artists to make a run for it. 
  • Back clip location only - most step-in harness options provide you only with a single D-ring located at the dog's back, so they're not great for dogs who pull. 
  • Doesn't always have reflective straps – this reduces your dog's safety during evening or early-morning walks. 

What's Better: Step-in Dog Harnesses or Vest-Based Harnesses?

In general, dog harness vests have more benefits for dogs and owners than a step in dog harness or traditional collar. Still, it really depends on what your needs are and what activities you'll be doing. Vest harnesses should be considered as a great option over a step in harness. Here's why:

  • Suitable for all breeds – vest harnesses work well on any breed of any size and fur length. They're the most comfortable and secure option. 
  • Multiple clip locations – the ability to clip the leash at the front or the back of the vest harness gives you more control for outdoor activities and can help with leash training. 
  • Breathable materials – high-quality, breathable materials used keep your dog cool and comfy, no matter the breed. 
  • Reflective straps – this safety feature makes it easier for your dog to be seen on late-night walks. 
  • Secure design – a dog harness vest provides additional protection to your dog's body, reducing any possible injuries. 

Get the Perfect Dog Harness from Pet&Cuddle! 

Getting a harness for your dog that is comfortable, functional, secure, and well-fitting is always a challenge. And with so many styles and types of harnesses, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Whether you're looking for high-intensity agility training or simple daily walks with your dog, Pet&Cuddle's selection of harnesses, leashes, and other accessories will have what you need. And now that you know what makes the best step in harness – or vest harness – you have all the essential details to pick up the right harness from our online store. 

As you have a look at all of the incredible options, don't forget that each one has been designed by our experts to ensure the safety, comfort, and security of your furry friend. What's more, our harnesses have features that are usually only found in much more expensive harnesses while staying affordable. That means you can get the most comfortable and safest harness for your dog. If you're looking for a new harness, dog harness vests will be the best option. They will provide a much better experience for both you and your dog compared to step in harnesses. 

Shop Pet&Cuddle's top-rated harnesses for dogs!

Questions About Step-In Dog Harnesses

With all the information above, you should be ready to pick out your ideal step in dog harness. However, if you still have questions, we've got you covered. Keep reading for answers to some of the most common step in harness-related questions below. 

Are step-in harnesses safe for dogs?

As long as you choose the right size and adjust it correctly, a step in harness can be an excellent option for small and medium-sized dogs. If you have a larger dog or one that tends to run and pull, you may consider getting a traditional dog harness instead. 

How does a step-in harness work?

Like a vest harness, a step in dog harness goes around your dog's body and has multiple points of adjustment. The main difference is the method of putting it on. With a vest harness, you slip it over your dog's head through the neck hole. With a step in harness, however, you pull the harness up from the bottom and clip it together at the back. 

How to measure your dog for a step-in harness?

For any dog harness, you need to take three measurements to get the right fit. First, measure the neck circumference (at the base of the neck), then the belly (around the widest part of the dog's body), and finally the length (from just behind the front legs to just behind the back). Then, look at our size chart to select the correct size. If the measurements fall in between sizes, choose the larger size for a more comfortable fit. Then, use the two-finger test by putting two fingers underneath the straps and adjust as necessary. 

When should a step-in dog harness be used?

Like any harness, a step in harness is suitable for most outdoor activities like walking, running, and training. However, for large dogs or ones that pull, we recommend using a dog harness vest instead of a step in to minimize discomfort, pressure, and chafing. 

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