What should I pay attention to with a harness?


26 February 2021

It’s important that a harness fits well and does not restrict the dog’s movement. In this blog post, I present different types of harnesses and give tips on what to look for in good harness.

General criteria

There are a few criteria that a good harness should meet so that the dog isn’t restricted in movement. In addition, the right harness should be used for the right task. A walking harness, for example, should not be used for pulling or while driving. Later I will go into more detail.

Selection criteria for a good harness:

  • The harness shouldn’t be too tight, but also not too wide.
  • It is important that the breast straps cannot rub against the armpits.
  • All straps shouldn’t run over the shoulder blades so that the dog can continue to move freely.
  • The harness should consist of wide straps, as narrow straps can cut into the dog faster.

If a harness fits the dog well, it has a few advantages in different situations. Firstly, the pressure when pulling is distributed over the whole dog and not just over the neck area as with a collar. Secondly, it’s easier with a dog in rough terrain, as you can simply help the dog by holding him with the harness. Additionally, an anxious dog is better secured with a safety harness and cannot simply wind out.

Types of harnesses

There are different types of dog harnesses and the most common for everyday use are:

  • Walking harness
  • Norwegian harness
  • Step-in harness
  • Safety harness (You can find the special requirements for this harness further below.)

In the end, it isn’t important which type of harness is used. Above all, it’s important that the harness fits well, doesn’t cut into the dog and that it doesn’t restrict the dog’s movement.

In addition to the common types of harnesses for everyday use, there are other harnesses that are intended for special use, such as:

  • Hiking harness
  • Sled dog harness
  • Car harness

These harnesses are specifically explained further below.

Safety harness

A safety harness is used with anxious dogs and makes the harness break-proof through a second chest strap. At the beginning, dogs that are given to new owners from abroad should be led with a safety harness, as they still have to get used to the new situation and can be more frightened if they hear unfamiliar noises. This harness is also beneficial for dogs that are afraid during New Year’s Eve, as unfortunately many dogs run away out of fear of the firecrackers every year.

In addition to the safety harness, it is important that the dog is secured with two leashes so that the anxious dog cannot run away. One leash is attached to the collar and harness and held in the hand. The second leash is attached to the safety harness and attached to a waist belt for humans. If the person loses the leash in their hands, the dog is still attached to the waist belt and cannot run away. Since the standard carabiner on the leash can open quickly while rolling or when the dog gets stuck, it’s important to use a screw carabiner as a connection between the leash and the safety harness.

Hiking harness

A hiking harness with an extra handle offers a good way to lift the dog while hiking and to support him in rough terrain. In addition, there are hiking harnesses with pockets in which the dog can carry light items, such as a towel. To do this, the dog must be fully grown and slowly get used to it.

Sled dog harness

A sled dog harness is, as the name suggests, used to pull in various sports such as canicross, joring or dog scooter. These harnesses only sit properly on the dog when he pulls and distribute the pressure over the entire body. Therefore, these harnesses are not suitable for everyday use and only for the sport.

Car harness

A car harness has a few extra requirements. In the event of an accident or heavy braking, high forces act on each other and a dog can quickly become a deadly projectile. Therefore, a car harness should have wide straps and metal closures. Plastic closures cannot withstand these high forces. In addition, the harness should be anchored with the seat belt or an Isofix connection so that the dog is securely fastened and does not have too much space to move around.

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