As a dog owner, you know the struggle of having your dog walk you! Thankfully, there are a few types of dog harnesses that can help make your walk time a bit easier.
Collars and leashes are standard gear for your dog; in fact, most cities require that your pup remains on a lead when you’re out in public. But if you’d like to step up your dog-walking game, consider a harness.
In this guide, we’ll look at the advantages of dog harnesses and the different types you can buy to make your exercise and playtime a little more human-friendly… and safer for your dog!
What is the Advantage of Using a Dog Harness?
Actually, there are a few advantages to using a dog harness instead of just using a leash for your pup.
First, your dog’s weight will be more evenly distributed across the harness, and the pressure he creates by pulling on his leash will be, too. That means a more comfortable walk for your dog, particularly if he’s prone to pulling you along as you stroll.
Secondly, a harness will lessen the likelihood that your pup will choke on his collar. Again, this is especially true for dogs that like to pull you along as you walk.
But dogs will be dogs, and even the calmest dog may find himself running off. Should your pup decide to chase a squirrel or a new furry friend, the harness is more likely to keep him safe.
Overall, we’ve found that using a dog harness just makes walks — and trips to the vet — more comfortable for both humans and their dogs.
Types of Dog Harnesses
The number of dog harness varieties depends on who you ask. Most will agree that there are at least four different styles of harness, though some would say there are six — or even more.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the most common types but keep in mind that as you shop for your dog’s new exercise equipment you’ll likely find variations of the types of harnesses on this list.
Let’s explore the most commonly purchased types of dog harnesses.
A back-clip harness is precisely what it sounds like. The clip to attach your dog’s lead is located on the back of your pup’s harness, and they’re one of the most comfortable options for your dog.
Back-clip harnesses are best for dogs that are calm and reserved when out in public. That’s because this type of restraint does very little to counter the effects of your dog’s pulling.
If your puppy or dog is likely to chase squirrels, leaves, and other “toys,” consider using a different type of restraint. But if you just want a more comfy option for a well-trained dog, a back-clip harness may be a great option!
While these aren’t great for untrained dogs with zoomies, they’re less likely to tangle your pup’s legs on a walk. We love that these restraints come in oodles of fun designs and colors, adding to your dog’s cute factor.
The front-clip harness is a restraint that can help lessen the strain of your dog pulling on her leash. You can “steer” your dog quite well with this type of harness, and if your dog is a jumper he can be better kept from engaging in this behavior with a front-clip harness.
A front-clip harness has a “con,” however, and that’s that your lead is more likely to become tangled in your dog’s legs than a back-clip harness. The clip, obviously, is in front of the restraint so you’ll have to keep an eye on your pup’s footsteps to prevent tangling.
If you’re leash-training your dog, we recommend that you use a front-clip harness. For best results, and to keep your dog’s legs from becoming entwined with the leash, hold the leash high as you walk your dog.
Have you tried all the types of dog harnesses, only to find that your dog hates putting the lead over his head? Thankfully, step-in harnesses exist!
A step-in harness is usually a back-clip restraint, though front-clip versions do exist. They come in tons of cute designs, and they’re super simple to put on! Just lay the harness on the floor, put your pup’s front legs through, and snap the clips in the back.
Typically, there will be an O-ring or a D-ring that you’ll connect the leash to once the harness is secure.
Like the back-clip harness, the step-in harness doesn’t offer a lot of control. This harness is ideal for well-trained dogs that don’t love to have their collar put over their head.
You can choose to clip a dual-clip harness in the front or the back, making it super versatile for pet owners. The harness will grow with your dog, in a way, in that while your dog is in training you can clip it in the front. Once your dog is more accustomed to walking calmly, you can clip it in the back for a smoother walk.
If you have a rescue dog, for instance, he may not be used to having a lead attached to his collar. Begin walking your dog with the added control offered by the front clip. Then, as your dog learns how to behave while on a walk, you can switch to the back.
We also love that the dual-clip harness allows you to make adjustments based on your dog’s mood. If your pup is particularly zoomie one day, you can clip him in the front. For calmer, more relaxed days you can choose the clip on the back of the harness.
A safety harness is ideal for you road warriors. This particular restraint can be used as a harness for walking, but when it’s time to hit the road you’ll clip the harness to the standard seatbelts in your vehicle!
Safety harnesses can be pricier than harnesses designed for walking, so it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of a safety harness compared to a standard harness.
Should you decide that a safety harness is right for you, there are plenty of colorful, attractive options out there to choose from! Once you’ve chosen a restraint for your dog, take your time practicing vehicle installation.
You’ll want to do a dry run both with and without your dog to ensure that your harness is securely fastened before your next road adventure.
If you have a large dog that’s hard to control, or if you’re in the process of training a dog that’s new to walking, a head halter is probably a good choice. These types of dog harnesses effectively stop your dog from pulling. How? Well, if your dog tries to pull too far ahead of you, his head will be gently turned back toward you!
Head halters offer a good alternative to other halters for certain dogs, but there are precautions you should take. Don’t use a retractable leash with this halter as it may cause your pup’s head to snap back too quickly.
Make sure the head halter (and any other harness) fits your dog properly so as not to be uncomfortable. And finally, understand that the head halter is not a muzzle. Your dog can still bite and bark with this harness in place, so take appropriate steps to control your dog if she’s prone to these behaviors.
Other Types of Dog Harnesses
Now that you know the six types of dog harnesses, you’re probably ready to go shopping! As you search Amazon or other marketplace listings, you may notice that there are a few other types of harnesses on the market not covered here.
Additionally, you may find that the harnesses we’ve listed above may be sold with variations or extra features. Pockets, bags, and even flotation devices may be added to your dog’s restraint.
We’ll talk a bit about how to choose the right type of dog harness later. In the meantime, check out these features while you shop! No matter your dog’s needs, there’s a harness out there for all your adventures together.
How to Fit the Six Main Types of Dog Harnesses
We’ve included six types of dog harnesses on our list to help you decide which is best for your pup. However, even more important than choosing your restraint type is choosing your restraint size.
Generally speaking, your dog’s harness should be snug but not too tight. You should be able to fit two average adult fingers between the harness and your dog’s body.
In a perfect world, you’ll bring your dog to the pet store and try a harness on him “in-person.” But this isn’t always feasible, and you may find yourself shopping for a restraint online.
Most manufacturers will include sizing information for their products, usually in the form of dog weight. For instance, the ad may list a medium harness as a perfect fit for a 20-pound dog. Dog harnesses are usually adjustable so you can choose the harness that’s right for your dog and then adjust to a snug, comfortable fit.
If your harness’s product description does not include the dog’s weight, you’ll need to measure your pup. Measure his chest and neck in the unit of measurement used by the manufacturer, then compare these measurements to the description.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve never bought a harness for your dog before, you probably have questions. How do you choose the right one? How do you make sure you’ve gotten the right size? We’ll cover answers to those frequently asked questions here.
Each dog will have his own specific needs. Keep these needs in mind as you choose a safety restraint.
Do you travel frequently? You may consider investing in a harness that features a seatbelt attachment. Frequent lake trips? Why not choose a harness that includes a flotation device?
Dogs that have trouble heeling may appreciate the comfort and safety of a front-clip harness. Dogs who have mastered the art of walking along nicely would probably be most comfortable in a back-clip harness.
Finally, a dog that doesn’t like his collar placed over his head will do best with a step-in harness. This type of harness makes it less stressful for your dog to get in and out, and there are both front- and back-clip versions available.
Your dog’s harness should be snug but comfortable, and you should be able to fit two fingers between the fabric and your dog’s body. However, there are a few easy ways to tell if your dog’s harness does not fit correctly.
If you’ve noticed that your dog’s skin is chafing in the area where the harness rests, it’s probably too big.
If your pup’s losing fur where the harness lies, you’ll need to adjust it for comfort as it’s either too tight or too loose.
Can your dog get out of his restraint? It’s too loose!
If your dog is excessively panting or wheezing while wearing his restraint, it should be loosened.
On either a back-clip or front-clip harness, if you find that the restraint is rotating around your pup’s body you’ll need to tighten it.
The cost of a good dog harness can range anywhere from around $15 to several hundred dollars for service dogs! The aesthetics of your harness will factor in, too. Choose a plain pink harness for your dog or go with the leather, studded options.
Shop around to find a dog harness that fits your needs and your budget. In all reality, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a quality restraint — good options are available for as little as around $25.
A no-pull harness is any harness that attaches to a leash in front of your dog. Be wary of manufacturers that describe their side- or back-clip harnesses as no-pull — they are not!
While you can technically leave a harness on your dog at all times, we don’t recommend it. Depending on the types of dog harnesses you use, you may find that your dog experiences chafing with frequent wear, or that he has trouble regulating his blood pressure with a full-time harness.
Try to only allow your dog to wear his restraint when he needs it. When you’re out for a walk, when your pup is in your truck, or when you’re out on the boat, keep your dog safely restrained with a harness that fits well.
Conclusion for “The Main Types of Dog Harnesses: How to Choose the Right One for You”
What types of harnesses are best for your dog? Well, that depends on your lifestyle and on your dog’s temperament! While some dogs require a harness that gives you more control, others may be fine with a secure back-clip harness.
There are six common types of restraints you can find for your pup. They come in a very wide assortment of colors and designs, and price points will vary, too. Learn about the different types in our guide, then have fun shopping for a restraint that fits your dog’s personality.
If you find this guide, “The Main Types of Dog Harnesses: How to Choose the Right One for You,” helpful, check out:
- Best Harness for a Tie Out – Top 5 Products! (2023)
- The 10 Best LED Dog Collars, Harnesses, and Leashes! (2023)
- Best Dog Pulling Harness 2023 (Walking, Sledding, Weights)
Learn more by watching “Choosing a Dog Harness – Best Ones and How to Use” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
Why Trust We Love Doodles?
At We Love Doodles, we’re a team of writers, veterinarians, and puppy trainers that love dogs. Our team of qualified experts researches and provides reliable information on a wide range of dog topics. Our reviews are based on customer feedback, hands-on testing, and in-depth analysis. We are fully transparent and honest to our community of dog owners and future owners.