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The Pros and Cons of Using a Dog Harness

At Pet&Cuddle, we’re huge fans of dog harnesses and believe they’re a key piece of equipment every dog parent should have. We think they’re significantly safer and more comfortable than collars, and they’re so versatile. Whether you’re walking, hiking, training, or just hanging out, a harness can do it all.

At the same time, as with anything, there are potential downsides of harnesses. We wanted to provide you with everything you need to know to make an empowered decision for you and your dog, so below, we delve into the pros and cons of dog harnesses.

What Is a Dog Harness & Why Should You Consider Using One?

A dog harness is something that has straps (usually adjustable) that wrap around your dog’s body. You fasten it, and you can loosen or tighten the straps as you need to.

The primary purpose of a harness is to serve as an alternative to a collar. Collars can be dangerous, and they put a lot of pressure on the neck and trachea. Collars can even impede breathing, especially in dog breeds that are prone to respiratory problems.

With a harness, benefits include more control and safety, and it’s the perfect training tool to teach your dog not to pull. We’ll go into each of these benefits in more detail below.

The Pros and Cons of Dog Harnesses

When you take the time to learn both the pros and cons of any pet accessory or gear, you’re going to end up with something that you can use extensively and do so with peace of mind.

Pros

We think the pros of a dog harness significantly outweigh any possible downsides, which is why they’re one of our favorite types of gear. The pros include:

1.) Safety

When your dog is wearing a conventional collar, there are a lot of risks. For example, it’s easy for a dog to slip out and potentially run into traffic, hurt themselves or hurt someone else.

This isn’t likely in a harness. A harness also disperses pressure points across your dog’s body, rather than concentrating them at the neck. With a collar, there is a risk of neck injury or breathing problems.

2.) Training

One of the most important fundamental skills your dog needs to learn is not to pull when you walk. When your dog masters that skill, walking is more enjoyable for both of you, and your dog can get the exercise he needs mentally and physically.

A harness is a humane, safe, and comfortable way to train your dog on how to walk correctly, teaching him not to pull with gentle pressure rather than something that could potentially damage his neck.

When your dog is in a harness and tries to pull, the harness blocks those movements, which reinforces the concept that they shouldn’t do it.

3.) Comfort

If your dog is using a collar, for example, it’s very uncomfortable, just as it would be for a human to have something restrictive around their neck. When your dog feels uncomfortable, he may become resistant to walks. When your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, it can lead to weight gain and other health problems, as well as mental health concerns.

4.) Functionality

Even among harnesses in general, one of our favorite types is the dual clip, with D-rings located at the front and back. This lets you have the highest level of functionality. When you need more control, for example, in a crowded area, you can use the front D-ring. Then, when you’re in an open space, or if your dog doesn’t pull, you might use the back D-ring.

Each D-ring has its own purpose, so you’ll get the most out of a dual-clip dog harness compared to one that has just a top or front leash attachment point.

5.) Teamwork

Your dog is a part of your family, and when you’re walking or training, you want to work as a team to reinforce that concept. Harnesses let you do that. Plus, your dog’s probably going to pick up needed skills much faster with a harness compared to a collar, and that will leave you feeling less frustrated and happier with your time spent on walks.

Cons

While the pros are more significant than the cons, in any important decision, you do want a complete picture of what to expect. We detail a few of the downsides that you might experience with a harness and how to overcome them.

1.) Weight

A harness is a bit heavier and bulkier than a collar. When you’re taking it on the go, this might be a consideration. To deal with this, keep weight and size in mind when you’re choosing it. There are plenty of options that are very lightweight and easy to throw into your bag as you head out the door.

2.) Simplicity

A harness may have a bit more complex design than a collar, but you’ll get adjusted to it after using it once or twice, and then it’ll become second nature to put it on your dog.

Get your dog used to it gradually so he can get comfortable. Let him sniff it and play with it at first, and then work up to actually walking with it. When you let your dog ease into using a harness, you can then make it part of your routine. Your dog will instinctively know to expect that you’re going on a walk when he sees you bring it out.

3.) Design

Some pet owners feel like they get more stylish design options with a collar compared to a harness, but that’s not always true. At Pet&Cuddle, we pride ourselves on designs that look as great as they feel and perform, so you don’t have to sacrifice in any area. Your dog can be safe and look cute at the same time.

Harness or Collar: Which One Is Really Better?

Most veterinarians as well as dog training professionals believe that a harness is superior to a collar. Your biggest goal is to keep your pet safe, and a dog harness outperforms a collar as far as reducing injuries. There’s no neck pressure or potential pain at the trachea, nor is there any detrimental impact on your dog’s ability to breathe.

How to Get the Right Size

When you’re choosing a dog harness, it does need to be the right size. Size is going to influence the advantages of using one.

For example, if it’s too small, it won’t be comfortable, and if it’s too big, your dog could get tangled or escape. Don’t just rely on your dog’s weight or even his breed. Instead, take a few minutes to get measurements before you buy a new harness. The following are the measurements you’ll need:

1.) To start, use a soft tape measure. If you don’t have one, that’s okay. You can also use ribbon or a piece of string and a ruler. Have someone help you if your dog tends to be squirmy or move around a lot.

2.) Have your dog stand on all fours, with his back straight.

3.) The first important measurement is your dog’s lower neck. You want to get that thickest point where the neck meets the chest. Wrap your tape measure around this point, and bring it to meet itself. It should be snugly wrapped but not too tight.

4.) Next, get a measurement of your dog’s chest. This will be the widest point, typically right behind the front legs. Wrap your tape measure around this point of the midsection.

5.) You can also get a measurement of your dog’s length, especially if you want a harness to fully cover his midsection. Start a straight line beginning right behind the front legs and bring the tape measure to the point just before the start of the back legs. 

6.) Compare your measurements to the Pet&Cuddle harness size charts. If your dog is between two sizes, go with the bigger option.

7.) When your harness arrives, do a fit test. First, put it on your dog and adjust it. You should be able to slide any two of your fingers under any strap of the harness, and it should feel snug but not overly tight. Another fit test is to pull the harness over your dog’s head while it’s fastened. If you can do this, it’s too big or needs to be readjusted.

Where to Buy the Perfect Harness?

So, having decided to buy the first harness for your dog or purchase another one for safe and comfortable activities with your dog, check out our latest collection of super safe and comfortable dog harnesses on the Pet&Cuddle website.

We, the Pet&Cuddle dog lovers, used lots of dog knowledge and our personal experiences to create the perfect harness with a unique design exactly for your pet. Comfortable and safe, it now can be easily used for many purposes like training, walking, or adapting to a leash.

Discover the latest products for dogs available on our website!

Questions About Dog Harnesses

One of the things that makes us so happy about what we do at Pet&Cuddle is being able to help pet parents find the very best products. We also talk to customers every day, so we design items with their needs in mind. 

We put together a list of some of the questions we frequently hear from pet parents just like you, in case there are still a few things you’d like to clear up about buying the perfect harness.

Can I Use a Dog Harness for a Puppy?

Thanks to safety, security, comfort and ability to function as a training tool, harnesses work well for dogs of all ages, including puppies. Some vets do recommend waiting until your puppy is at least eight months old to use a harness, but your situation may be different. Ask your vet what’s suitable for your dog.

When you do start using a harness with a puppy, make sure you get one that fits well and is snug but not restrictive.

Are Harnesses Bad for Dogs?

Not only are harnesses not bad for dogs—they’re actually much better for dogs than other options like collars. Harnesses reduce injury risks that can come from traditional collars, with so much pressure being put on the neck and trachea. When you’re training a dog, you can use a harness as a much gentler alternative than more forceful things, like a choke collar.

A harness, when it fits well and is high-quality, will be both safe and comfortable.

What Are the Types of a Dog Harness?

There are a few main types of dog harnesses which are:

1.) Back-clip: This type of harness has the D-ring clip for the leash located at the top back. It’s good if your dog is well-trained or doesn’t tend to pull.

2.) Step-in: As you might guess, with this type of harness, you lay it flat on the ground and your dog steps in and you then fasten it. It’s a suitable type if your dog doesn’t like things going on over his head.

3.) Front-clip: When the leash attachment point is at the front of the chest of the harness, you can train your dog not to pull. If your dog starts to pull it creates just a bit of discomfort. A front clip also gives you more control if you need it in a particular situation.

4.) Dual-clip: With a top and front clip, dual-clip harnesses give you the most versatility across a wide variety of situations, so they’re preferable.

Is It Safe to Leave a Dog Wearing Harnesses All Day?

It’s not recommended that you leave a harness on your dog all day. There’s no purpose in doing it, and it can create irritation and rub uncomfortably against your dog’s fur and skin.

What we recommend is that you put the harness in the same place every day. Then, when you take it out, your dog learns it’s time to go for a walk.

Should I Use a Retractable Leash with a Dog Harness?

Along with harnesses, retractable leashes are another piece of our favorite gear for dogs. Your dog is free to roam when there’s the opportunity, and then if you encounter traffic or people, you can reel a retractable leash back in for more control.

You can absolutely use a retractable leash with a dog harness, and it’s a great combination. Just remember, don’t let the leash generate tension when you’re using the front clip of the harness because this can be confusing. Your dog may think he’s pulling when he’s not.

Get Your Best Dog Harness on Pet & Cuddle!

If you’re ready to get a great walking and training experience with your dog, go ahead and take a look at Pet&Cuddle’s selection of harnesses and also leashes, and other items. You now know the essential details to  keep in mind as you shop, and you’re ready to get started.

We, the dog lovers from Pet&Cuddle, having deep knowledge and practical experiences, created the perfect harnesses with a unique design for your dog. Comfortable and safe, it now can be easily used for many purposes like training, walking, or adapting to a leash.

See the latest products for dogs available here!