Harnesses are a much safer option for walking your dog than collars. However, choosing the right kind of harness is essential to prevent problems like pulling.
As a new dog owner, all the terms and equipment flying around in the pet community can get overwhelming. Harnesses are a must-have for all pet parents because they keep you geared up for walks. Be it during your pup’s daily exercise or bringing them along as you run errands.
Harnesses generally allow for more control during lead walking. Unlike traditional collars, which rest on the neck, dog harnesses lie on the dog’s torso, with other straps on the lower neck and shoulders. Still, unlike harnesses function differently, so this article aims to cover 5 types of harnesses and their differences. This way you can make a better-informed opinion on the right kind of harness for your dog.
5 Types of Dog Harnesses
Despite appearing similar, different harnesses have structural differences, each having its pros and cons. 5 of the most common dog harness types are the:
- front clip (no-pull),
- back clip (standard),
- dual clip-ins,
- safety harnesses,
- and head halter harness.
Different dogs’ temperaments and occasions necessitate using one or the other walking equipment.
Walking your dog is a huge part of being a responsible pet parent, so choosing the right walking harness is essential. Of course, the traditional collar is more common for our dogs, but collars are a notable safety hazard that can cause massive damage to our dogs’ necks and backs. On the other hand, harnesses serve the same purpose but are far safer because they lie on a broader surface area on the torso rather than on the delicate neck area.
Harnesses allow owners to gain more control over their pups’ movement without placing too much pressure on the neck. For this reason, we advise using a quality dog harness over a dog collar as you walk your dogs. Collars can be excellent for identifying and containing a GPS tracker, but not so much for walking. Here are 5 dog harnesses and their pros and cons.
Front-Clip (no-pull) harness
You may have heard of the term no-pull harness. This refers to a dog harness with clip attachments at the front, where you attach the leading leash. The name no-pull implies that this harness discourages dogs from pulling during walks, making walks safer and hustle-free.
Your dog must remain by your side when walking with a no-pull harness. If the dogs pull or move away, the leash attachment moves to the side, and they have an uncomfortable sensation of falling. These harnesses work perfectly for puppies yet to learn how to walk correctly with the owner (heel training).
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of no-pull harnesses in the market. The PawSafe no-pull dog harness is comfortable and trains your dog to listen, even if they’re being stubborn. Our dog harness is lightweight yet durable and keeps your dog from choking on a collar.
Note: While no-pull harnesses are great to discourage pulling, they are not a cure for dogs with behavioral problems. A no-pull harness is like a band-aid on a much deeper issue if your dog is aggressive, which manifests in pulling during walks. Such dogs may require behavioral therapy to eliminate the pulling from the root.
They offer more control over your pup by reducing pulling
No-pull harnesses steer your dog towards you, so when they start to pull, it’s easy for them to bump into you since you’re walking in front. The uncomfortable sensation of losing balance during pulling discourages this behavior in dogs.
Allow directional steering
It’s easy to direct the direction your dog is walking in when you’re standing in front. When a leash has rear leash control positioning, the dog can run ahead and appear to lead you during the walk. It’s simpler to maneuver to the left or right when you’re at the front and the dog behind you.
- The harness leash can tangle under the front legs if you slacken the leash too much.
- You may need to invest in a trainer or behaviorist if your dog pulls because of behavior issues such as aggression or fear.
Back- Clip (regular/ traditional) Harnesses
These harnesses have the leash control falling at the back. They offer your dog more freedom for movement and don’t inhibit your pup’s natural range of motion. The downside is that these harnesses can encourage pulling in some dogs because it simulates the sensation of pulling a cart. Sled dog breeds like Huskies can be particularly difficult to manage in traditional harness.
You can comfortably use back-clip harnesses on well-trained dogs as they’ve already learned not to pull. The design does little for pulling because they trigger the opposition reflex. This reflex refers to a dog’s instinct to pull or push against pressure. Calm dogs can familiarize themselves with regular harnesses because walking them is typically easier.
Variations of the back-clip harness are used on sled dogs to encourage pulling because these harnesses utilize the opposition reflex. Regular and no-pull harnesses may look similar on display in the pet shop, but the varying leash placement causes them to differ significantly.
- You can connect a back-clip harness to a dog seat belt to secure your dog during car rides.
- They’re relatively easy to use because your dog simply needs to step into the harness. You then slide the harness up your dog’s front legs.
- Your pup can’t reach the leash to gnaw on it.
- Offer less control and may encourage pulling. This makes them less than ideal for puppies, untrained dogs, and those that aren’t calm.
- You have less directional control with rear clip leashes because the dog can walk ahead of you.
Dual Clip and Multiple clip harnesses
As the name suggests, dual clip harnesses have attachments on the front and the back. You can use the back clip on regular walks and the front clip when you need a sturdier grip on your dog. These harnesses were most common among dog trainers, but they are picking up momentum among owners too.
Dual clip harnesses can work as a no-pull and a regular harness. We have covered more on how no-pull harnesses work, including how they differ from the standard back-clip harnesses. Some have more than two D rings making them multiple clip harnesses.
- These harnesses are versatile because they can work both as no-pull and back-clip harnesses.
- Offer greater control over the dog due to having two clips.
- These harnesses are more expensive than no-pull and back-clip harnesses because they combine the features of both.
- The unused metal loop can make these harnesses uncomfortable and cause chafing.
A safety harness works with a dog seat belt to keep your dog secure during walks. Purchasing a dog seat belt is essential because those made for humans cater to their weight distribution, not the dogs’. It’s crucial to ensure that the harness fits your dog correctly before rides. For this, you must know how to measure your dog for a harness and when it fits right.
Be careful because some manufacturers falsely claim that their safety harnesses are crash tested. There aren’t government directives on safety harnesses and dog seat belts, making the industry largely unregulated. A quality rear clip or no-pull harness should pair well with the seat belt, although most owners prefer the back clip harness.
- These harnesses are better to attach to a seat belt than traditional collars. The reason is that collars can cause massive damage to the neck and spine in the event of an accident.
- If you use a regular as a safety harness, you can detach the seat belt and use it for walks, making them multipurpose.
- They can be expensive, especially if the harnesses are marketed as “crash tested” safety harnesses.
Head halter harnesses
These aren’t precisely dog harnesses because head halters don’t wrap the chest, unlike the other ones on the list. The head halter fits around your pup’s head instead of the torso. Dog head halters loop around the muzzle, and the leash placement is right below the dog’s chin.
This equipment may look cruel to the outside eye because the muzzle appears tightly closed. However, dog halters are an excellent way to minimize dog pulling. Your dog’s head is forced towards you if they attempt to pull ahead during walks.
- They are effective at correcting dogs from pulling during walks, particularly when coupled with proper obedience training and mutual trust.
- The more humane solution to pulling than aversion-based tools like choke collars, electric collars, and prong collars.
- Critics claim that these harnesses have a negative psychological effect on dogs. As with any training tool, head halters must be appropriately used to avoid the emergence of other issues.
- Haltis may result in subdued behavior in some pups. Dogs need a lot of time to adapt to these tools, and some dogs panic and give in to despair. For this reason, most people prefer front-clip harnesses.
There are various types of dog harnesses, namely front-clip harnesses, back-clip harnesses, dual-clip, head halters, and safety harnesses. The ideal kind of dog harness depends on your dog’s temperament and level of training. No-pull (front-clip) harnesses effectively minimize dog pulling. Back clip harnesses are suitable for calm and well-trained dogs.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.