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Published: Feb 12, 2024 4 min read

Putting a harness on your dog is a good way to let your dog feel more comfortable and secure while going for a walk. Harnesses are designed to rest on your dog’s body comfortably even while running or being pulled. Let’s look at this step-by-step guide at how to adequately put on a harness on your dog so the both of you can enjoy the open air comfortably and safely.

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Things to know before buying a harness

There’s different types of dog harnesses

Dog harnesses usually come in a couple of main varieties. Step-in dog harnesses have you inserting your dog’s legs through the harness straps in order to fasten it to the dog’s back. Overhead harnesses have you putting on your dog’s harness as if it were a dog collar and then attaching the rest to your dog’s leash clip. These variations also differ by where the adjusting clip is, and are known as front-clip harnesses and back-clip harnesses.

You should measure your dog’s chest and neck before buying one

No matter what you choose as the best harness for your furry friend, it’s important to measure your dog before buying one for the first time. A well-fitting harness will make your pooch comfortable, give you better control of your dog’s behavior and prevent chafing. Measure the width of your dog’s neck and girth to make sure the harness fits your dog’s specifications.

How to put on a dog harness

Find the D-ring and make sure it’s on the dog’s shoulders

Harnesses can be confusing and it’s sometimes difficult to know which side is which. Locate the D-ring (which will be attached to the leash) and make sure it’s facing where the dog’s back will be, near the shoulders. This will assure you have the harness facing the correct side when adjusting it on your dog.

Slowly accommodate the harness around your dog’s body

If your harness is a step-in harness, put your dog’s front legs inside the straps while buckling the back of the harness. If you have a vest or padded chest strap harness, put your dog’s head through the harness while adjusting the ends of the harness for a good fit. Have patience and give positive reinforcement to make sure your dog is comfortable with its harness before moving forward.

Make sure your harness is well-buckled

A loose harness could unbuckle if your dog pulls or lunges in the heat of the moment. Make sure everything is in place and well-fitted before going dog walking. Small dogs might need more help to make sure every strap and buckle is in its right place.

If your dog refuses to walk or behave properly while in a harness, behavioral therapy by a certified specialist may be necessary. A pet insurance policy may be able to help offset the costs of this type of therapy.

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How to put a harness on a dog FAQs

Does a harness go under or over?

It depends on what sort of harness it is. Both step-in harnesses and overhead harnesses have a portion that goes under your dog in order to fasten it to its chest.

How should a dog harness fit?

A dog harness should rest comfortably on your dog’s body without sagging or looking like it's making your dog uncomfortable.

Why should I use a harness instead of a collar?

Harnesses provide better control over your dog, especially for dogs prone to pulling or those with respiratory issues. They also reduce the risk of neck injury, which can occur with collars, particularly in dogs that pull on leash.