Types of Harnesses for Your Dog

Some owners and trainers prefer to use a dog harnesses for walking dogs.  Small dogs may need harnesses for health reasons since pulling on a collar can cause throat problems for some dogs.  And, harnesses can be a good idea for some dogs with behavioral issues, especially if a large dog pulls on the leash when  you walk him or otherwise tries to misbehave.  A harness can give you more control over your dog than a simple collar and leash.


As you might imagine, there are different types of harnesses for these different purposes.  Here’s a look at the different types of harnesses and how to choose which one is best for your dog.


Walking your dog

If you are looking for a basic harness to walk your dog, these harnesses are usually comfortable for most dogs.  They go around a dog’s chest and the front legs.  Your leash snaps into a ring on a strap along the dog’s back, between the shoulder blades.


Harnesses of this basic type give you more control over your dog.  They distribute force when you pull on the leash more evenly over your dog’s body than a collar does, which focuses on your dog’s neck.  It is usually easy to control a dog when he wears a basic harness.


Gentle Leaders and Haltis are also harnesses that people use for walking their dog.  These harnesses are actually head collars that fit over the dog’s head.  They are not collars and not body harnesses but they do give the owner added control when walking the dog.  They look something like a horse halter for a dog.  Instead of exerting pressure on the dog’s throat, they control the dog’s head.


Small dogs

Small dogs can be subject to a condition called tracheal collapse. This occurs when the muscles and tendons inside the throat give way from constant pulling and pressure.  The dog may give a hacking cough when he wears a regular dog collar and leash and pulls on it.  You can help avoid tracheal collapse by using a harness on your small dog.  The harness will exert pressure on your dog’s body instead of hurting your small dog’s throat.


Brachycephalic dogs

Harnesses can also be a good idea for brachycephalic dogs.  These are dogs such as Bulldogs,  Boxers, French Bulldogs, Pugs, and other breeds with shortened noses and short air passages.  Wearing a harness puts less stress on their breathing and can be better for their health.  Dogs who have spinal neck problems can also benefit from wearing a harness.


Behavior problems

Many large dogs, and other dogs, are bad about pulling on the leash when you walk them.  This is especially true if you are a small person with a large dog.  Using a harness is a good way to stop your dog from pulling you down the street.  There are “no-pull” harnesses that can help with this problem.  They come in two types:  one type of no-pull harness has an attachment for the leash in the front of the harness in the center of the chest area.  You have more control of your dog’s front movement with this method.  The other kind of no-pull harness tightens gently around your dog’s chest and legs, and restrains your dog when he pulls.  This kind of no-pull harness is recommended for dogs who won’t stop pulling no matter what you have tried.



You can find the right size harness for your dog by measuring his chest or girth.  Use a fabric or cloth tape measure and measure around your dog’s rib cage.  Add a couple of inches to find the correct size for your dog.



There are many good reasons for a dog to wear a harness.  Start by knowing why you want your dog to wear a harness and then choose one that is appropriate for your dog.