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No-Pull Harness for Small Dogs: What Should You Know?

One of the most problematic behaviors we hear from dog owners is pulling when walking on a leash. This is a natural tendency for a lot of dogs, though. Dogs get excited when you’re out in the world on a walk or run. There’s sensory overload for them.

Your dog may get excited and want to pull, and he’s also able to get somewhere by pulling forward, which creates positive reinforcement.

When your dog pulls, while he may be doing it in a good-natured way, it can hurt you and him. It can also make it more likely that your dog is going to get too close to other animals, people, or cars.

The good news is that you can train your dog not to pull. No-pull harnesses for small dogs are especially meant as a training tool that remedies bad walking behavior, making your walks safer and enjoyable for both of you.

At Pet&Cuddle, we have a selection of no-pull harnesses for small dogs, and we can also help you learn more about how to put on a no-pull dog harness and how to use one for training and leisurely walks.

When you’re choosing the best no-pull harness for a small dog, the right fit is a big consideration. Below we’ll guide you through the process to choose one based on your dog’s measurements and also what to look for as you compare the many available options.

Essential Features for a No-Pull Harness for Small Dogs

A no-pull harness is one that has a front clip for the leash.

  • When the clip is at the front, it’s easier for you to turn your dog’s body and have directional control. If your dog is pulling, then with the leash attached to his front, he has to pivot his chest toward you.
  • This teaches your dog that by pulling, he’s not getting anywhere, and he’s not going forward. That means the bad behavior of pulling isn’t being reinforced, and instead, he’s being trained not to do it.
  • Your dog has to remain by your side to move forward, and otherwise, the leash is going to go to the side. You can apply only gentle pressure but have complete control and be able to easily guide your dog when he’s in a no-pull harness.
  • When you’re learning how to use a no-pull dog harness, you’ll start to see how it affects you positively. When you have more control, you’ll be more relaxed. Your dog will sense that, promoting more effective training and better walks.

Other features to look for in a no-pull harness for your small dog include:

  •  Adjustability: We’ll talk more about the importance of fit in our guide to measuring your dog, but adjustability builds on the fit. Get the right fit, and then tailor it a bit more if you have a harness with adjustable straps. You don’t want a harness that’s too tight or too loose.
  • Lightweight: A good, lightweight harness is one you can take anywhere with hardly a second thought. Throw it in your bag, and you and your dog are ready for any adventure.
  • Safety: What we always tell people is that you’re making a much safer choice with a harness as opposed to a collar. Collars can cause choking and neck injuries, especially if your dog still pulls.
  • Material: Your dog’s going to be happier and better behaved if he’s comfortable. Look for durable but still soft materials that won’t cause injuries or rubbing.
  • Ease of use: A dog can become resistant to using a harness if it takes you too long to put it on or it’s overly complicated. The best harness designs are simple to put on and take off and require minimal effort on your part.

Additional Things to Look for in a Dog Harness

The features above are must-haves for functionality, but for more advantages, good features to look for are:

  • Clip Location: The front clip leash attachment is what differentiates a no-pull harness, but your dog will eventually learn not to pull. In that case, having a dual-clip harness with a top clip in addition to a front clip will give you more versatility in how you use it.
  • Reflective Straps: You might prefer to walk in the early morning or evening, so you can’t forget to stay safe with reflective details.
  • Flexible, soft materials: You want your dog to look forward to walks meaning that you prioritize comfort when choosing a harness. Soft and flexible materials will help your dog have a full range of motion unimpeded by a rigid harness.

How To Use a No-Pull Dog Harness for Small Dogs

Small dogs can be tricky to fit for a harness. Since they do have small builds, ensuring you get a snug enough fit is critical. Your small dog might try to escape from a harness that’s too big. Little dogs are known as experienced escape artists. You want a precisely measured fit to reduce the risk, but of course, you don’t want it to be too tight.

We always advise that you use a tape measure and get a few key dimensions before you choose a size.

Don’t assume because a harness is advertised as being for a small dog that it’s going to be the right fit for your dog. Also, don’t rely on weight alone. Small dogs may all be around the same size in terms of weight, but their builds can be very different.

Get the Right Size by Measuring Your Dog

To get the right size harness for your small dog, get a tape measure, and take the following measurements:

  • Measurement #1: First, we’re going to need a measure of your dog’s neck girth. Go to the lowest, broadest point of the neck, below where a collar sits. Wrap a tape measure around this widest neck point. When you’re taking this and other measurements, you want to wrap the tape measure tightly enough that you get a snug fit, but not so tight it would be uncomfortable. Remember, you can also adjust the straps later.
  • Measurement #2: Now, let’s measure your dog’s chest girth. This is the largest point right behind his front legs, or his “armpits.” Have your dog stand on all fours and wrap the tape measure around to meet itself.
  • Measurement #3: Now, get a measure of your dog’s length. Start at the point where the base of the neck meets the rest of his body, and bring the tape measure in a straight line to the point right behind the back legs.
  • Next step: Now, when you have your measurements, use them to choose the right size based on the Pet&Cuddle harness size chart.

Tips for Achieving a Proper Fit

To go even beyond the measuring, a few more tips:

  • Tip #1: When you’re looking at the size chart, you might find your dog seems to be between two sizes. If so, go up rather than down, and then adjust the straps when you get the small dog harness.
  • Tip #2: Use the two-finger rule. We find this trick is a great method when you’re measuring and also once you get your harness and you’re checking the fit and adjusting the straps. So what is the two-finger rule? It’s simple. Just take any two of your fingers when you’re measuring and slide them under the tape measure. They should fit but snugly. Do the same with the harness itself.
  • Tip #3: This final tip is a big one for small dogs—try to pull the harness over your dog’s head when it’s on and adjusted. This is one of the ways that small dogs pull their escape tricks. You shouldn’t be able to pull the harness over his head.

What Are the Benefits of No-Pull Harnesses for Small Dogs

Small dogs have special needs when it comes to walking equipment. They have delicate necks and bodies but are also prone to escaping. This makes a harness the superior option across the board, compared to a collar.

  • Safety: When we’re talking to our customers, they’re often surprised to hear how risky a collar can be for a small dog. Collars can lead to strangulation, limb injuries, neck problems, and general discomfort. A harness doesn’t carry these risks. It disperses the pressure all around your dog’s body, reducing the risk of injury and increasing comfort.
  • Control: A no-pull dog harness allows you to gently guide your dog’s movements, so you have complete control. It’s great for training, and a harness reinforces good walking behaviors inherently.
  • Functionality: Harnesses can be used in different situations. You can easily move from a crowded to an open area, you can manage your dog in a high-traffic situation, and you can train with it. You can also use harnesses for hiking, running, and other athletic activities.
  • Training: If you were to use a collar for training, it could seriously hurt or injure a small dog. A no-pull harness is the ultimate training tool, and you’re not hurting your dog in the process.

Can I Use a No-Pull Dog Harness and Retractable Leash Together?

If we were to choose another one of our favorite pieces of equipment outside of a harness, we’d say a retractable leash. Retractable leashes are flexible, and you can give your dog the freedom to explore, building confidence.

Yes, you can also use a retractable leash and harness together.

With that being said, if you’re still in the process of training and using the front-clip leash attachment, don’t let the retractable leash generate tension. It becomes confusing. It creates the sensation that your dog is pulling even when he’s not. Instead, fix the length of the leash so your dog can’t pull on the lead when you’re using a harness and retractable leash at the same time.

Should You Really Use a Harness For Small Dogs?

Our recommendation if you want a safe, effective training tool is to opt for a no-pull harness for your small dog. We’ve created a collection of top-rated harnesses for small dogs that take into consideration the unique needs of these breeds. Whether your focus is walking for fun, training, or maybe a combination, explore the best harnesses we created for your dog here.

Questions About Dog Harnesses

Below are answers to some of the questions we get most often on topics related to the best no-pull puppy harness and the best no-pull harness for small dogs.

Is It Safe to Use No-Pull Harnesses for Small Dogs?

Yes, it is safe to use no-pull harnesses for small dogs, and it’s actually much safer than the alternative of using a collar. Collars can cause injuries even for large dogs. For small dogs, the risk is even greater. If you’re using a collar, instead switch to the best no-pull puppy harness or the best no-pull harness for small dogs.

When you’re choosing a new harness, make sure you get the size right by taking measurements.

What Age Can You Start Using a Harness?

Most vets will advise that you wait until your puppy is around eight months before you start using a harness. Harnesses can be used by puppies as long as they’re the right fit to ensure safety.

Can Puppies Wear a No-Pull Harness All Day?

We do not recommend your puppy or small dog wear a no-pull harness all day. There’s no benefit in them doing so. Plus, it can cause problems with circulation and skin discomfort. Use it for training, walking and outdoor adventures, and then take off the harness at home.

How Tight Should a No-Pull Harness Be?

A no-pull harness should be snug to avoid escape but not tight. It shouldn’t seem like it’s digging into your dog’s fur or skin. Ideally, you should be able to put two fingers between the straps and your dog’s skin or fur, but only just barely.

What’s Better: Harnesses or Collars for Small Dogs?

For small dogs, we recommend harnesses over collars. They’re safer, more comfortable and  more functional.

Get Your Best No-Pull Harness for Small Dogs On Pet&Cuddle

When you choose the right sized, high-quality harness for your small dog, it’s going to change the way you walk and train. It’s going to be more pleasant for both of you and also more comfortable. Take your small dog’s measurements and get started shopping.

If you need help, our expert team is always available. We’re always creating new harness designs for the needs of small dogs, so shop our harness collection here.