How To Put On A Dog Harness | Travel With Doggie

How To Put On A Dog Harness

Dogs have their charming way of making life more beautiful. These fur-balls are also known to keep you on your toes, I mean, literally! Forget sleeping in – for you would have that ‘puppy face’ and those big round eyes staring at you pleading to be taken out for a walk. Ah! The glorious morning walks with the dog and the mere thought of putting the harness on the dog used to be a nightmare in my case. Well, a collar might seem a little easier to handle but what if I told you that attaching a leash to your dog’s neck could be dangerous? Yes! It is best to use those fancy collars as a piece of accessory and not to attach the leash while you take your dog out for walks. This is why you need a harness and also master the art of putting a harness on your dog.

So Why Is The Harness So Important?

If you are like me then you perhaps stare at those fancy harnesses in the pet stores and wonder how dogs even allow their parents to put them while your dog manages to wriggle out of every harness you buy. Once I learned the different types of harnesses I was able to find the right one for my dog and from then on we have been loving our walks together. 

Dog harnesses offer more comfortable support for the leash. If your dog loves to play tug-of-war with you with the leash attached, then the harness would ensure that his neck is not taking the strain. When you do not know how to put the harness on your dog or when you choose the wrong type of harness there is one big danger to worry about- your dog figuring out how to trick himself out of the harness. While you are out with your dog on his leash slipping out of his harness would be one of the biggest safety hazards for your dog. So what should you do to protect your dog from this risk? Pick the right type of harness and learn how to put it on your dog the right way.

What Type Of Harness Should You Choose?

When you look at any dog harness you might find one or more buckles or Velcro straps and a ring to attach the leash. So you buckle the harness on to your dog and attach the leash right? It is not as simple as it might sound.

First, you should train your dog to get used to the harness.

Second, you should know how to position the harness right so that your dog doesn’t feel any strain.

Third, you should know how tight is too tight when it comes to strapping the harness on to your dog. 

Here are the most popular types of dog harnesses that you can find in the market:

  • Front clip harness/back clip harness
  • Head halter harness
  • Step-in harness

I will give a brief description of how to use each of these harness types.

Interested in a comprehensive list the various types of dog harness out there? Check out my article on them here!

Clip-on Harness

This comes in 3 main designs- the front clip harness, back clip harness, and the dual clip harness.

Front Clip Harness

With this, the leash is attached in the front, near the chest of the dog.

  1. If you look at the straps buckled, one side is shorter than the other. Sit next to your dog on the side where the shorter strap hangs. 
  2. You begin by slipping the collar part of the harness over the dog’s head.
  3. Pull the long strap from below the dog and snap the buckle in place close to the dog’s belly. 

This front clip attachment of the leash is designed mainly for those dogs that tend to pull aggressively on their harnesses. You can feel more in control when you hold the leash with these harnesses.

Back Clip Harness

Using the back clip harness would be very similar to that of the front clip harness. The only difference here is that the leash attachment D-ring is given at the back. Therefore you do not have to worry about the leash tangling around your dog’s neck. But this doesn’t give you as much control as the front clip harness.

Dual Clip Harness

With this, there are two clips both on the front and at the back. Therefore these are versatile choices for your pets though they tend to be slightly more expensive than the front or back clip variants.

Step-in Harness

This is considered to be some of the safest options for the dogs as there is no collar attachment in this one. So there is zero strain on the dog’s neck. The initial struggle of getting your dog to step into the harness is real. But once you cross this milestone, your dog might actually start liking his harness. And the best part is that most step-in harnesses come with both front and back clip options. This is the easiest type of harness to use once you understand the design.

  • Remove the clip and place the harness flat on the ground.
  • Make your dog step into the leg holes in the harness.
  • Slide the harness up and snap the knuckle and then attach the leash. 

You can easily adjust the strap length so as to customize the tightness. There is one little detail to remember- if you have a puppy or a dog with short legs then your dog might learn to easily slip his legs out of the leg-loops if you do not get the fit right.

Head Halter

This is a harness type that is solely for those dogs with a muzzle and is not suitable for the punched face breeds like Pugs or Shi Tzu’s.

  1. Slide the head halter through your dog’s muzzle. Your dog is not going to readily allow you to slide a harness over his head. Use treats to lure him into it. While you keep the halter open with your hands use your other hand to offer treats a little further from the harness.
  2. When your dog reaches towards the treats with his muzzle moving further into the halter, secure the collar in place.
  3. Start with the most relaxed fit of the halter opening and then slowly tighten it as your dog feels more comfortable with it.

Besides the above-mentioned harnesses, you would also find vest type harnesses. These are particularly cozy for the smaller breeds as well as for younger puppies. As the name indicates these feature a vest for the dog on to which you can directly tether the leash. The pull force is then evenly distributed to the whole body ensuring that the pup doesn’t feel any discomfort.

Sarah's Tips

  • Ensure that the harness is not so loose that your dog can easily slip through it.
  • A two-finger gap might often be sufficient to ensure that the harness is not too tight on your dog’s chest or legs.
  • You can use treats as rewards to train your dog to stay stable as you put the harness. Or if you have a hard-willed dog like mine you can use treats as a distraction and while the dog is busy nibbling his treats you can quickly snap the harness in place.

Final Thoughts

Besides the harness and the leash, there is one other vital element you need for the harness training sessions and that is ‘patience’, I mean oodles of it. Some dogs get it right the first time and some do not like their harnesses even after weeks of using one. Be patient and continue to reward good behavior. This is the only way to trick your little furry friend to fall in love, or at least learning to adjust, with the concept of wearing a harness. Picking the best harness for your dog takes an understanding of your dog’s temperament and also the size of the dog. 

Go buy that harness today!

For a list of dog harness that you can take on your car travels, check out my personal recommendations in this article!