Good dog harnesses make your life easier, but the best dog harnesses are the ones your dog loves and wears proudly. When it comes to choosing the best dog harness for your pup, consider size, life stage, material and, of course, whether or not you want to color coordinate with each other. We’ve listed the best dog harnesses on the market below to get you started.
The 5 Best Dog Harnesses for Safer Walks and Happier Pups
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Harnesses vs. collars
Walking dogs by hooking leashes to collars is fine, but it doesn’t work for all canines. Dogs who pull, are in the midst of training (aka puppies or rescues who never learned basic commands) or are reactive should definitely wear harnesses. Why? Because the right harness discourages pulling and gives the walker greater control. Think: Less jumping up on strangers. Plus, harnesses prevent your dog from experiencing neck strain.
Collars are still great options for dogs who know how to walk calmly, aren’t reactive or would otherwise be at a disadvantage in a harness (think: toy breeds who can easily escape harnesses or dogs with sensitive skin conditions). Even so, there’s probably a harness out there for every dog.
One note on collars: It’s widely accepted that choke collars or prong collars are cruel and don’t work well when it comes to training. Rather than inflicting harm or discomfort when your dog doesn’t follow commands, try positive reinforcement training by rewarding good behavior. The results will speak for themselves.
Types of harnesses
Harnesses can usually be separated into one of two categories: body harnesses and front-clip harnesses. According to Simpawtico Dog Training, body harnesses tend to be easier on a dog’s body because they evenly distribute leash tension throughout the harness. On the other hand, a collar provides only one spot for all the tension to go—and it’s directly on your dog’s throat. Body harnesses often have leash clips on the back. Body harnesses work well for training but can backfire once your big dog breed becomes a full adult; if you don’t train them not to pull you, a body harness will make it easy for them to drag you where they want to go.
Front-clip harnesses are exactly what they sound like. They allow you to clip the leash onto the front of the harness. This is ideal for dogs who pull or jump as it redirects their movement, thus reducing the desire to pull or jump. However, don’t rely solely on a front-clip harness to teach your dog what not to do on a walk. That’s your job! The harness is simply meant to help.
How to choose a harness
As with all doggy accessories, harnesses should fit your dog’s size. They shouldn’t be able to wriggle out of it, but it also shouldn’t be so tight they can’t breathe, move or play freely. This is especially important for Brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs and Boxers.
Always consider your dog’s specific personality and behavior. Are there habits you need to break or health issues you need to consider? When in doubt, check with your vet or a licensed trainer.
The Best Dog Harnesses at a Glance:
Best for Versatility
Maxbone’s harness is ideal for dog people in need of some options. Leashes can attach to one of two strong D-rings, depending on whether you need a front- or back-clip. Many customers note how soft the neoprene material is! Plus, there’s mesh lining to ensure a breathable fit. Maxbone also outfitted their harnesses with handles on the back, in case you need to grab your pooch in a tricky moment. The Easy Fit harness comes in five sizes and six colors. Go full Maxbone with their matching collars or their retractable leash.
In one swoop, you can purchase a harness, leash and poop bag from Wild One (and save $16 compared to if you purchased each item separately). Plus, they sell matching collars and treat pouches if you want the whole look. This harness comes in four sizes and ten colors; each one has a lightweight, soft feel yet is tough enough to withstand outdoor excursions like hiking and swimming. Wild One harnesses offer three clip points - two on back and one in front - depending on what works best for your pup. Users also rave about the adjustability these harnesses offer.
Best for Small Breeds
Though this body harness from Frisco may not fare well with heavy chewers, it’s earned almost 1,000 five-star reviews from happy dog parents. Users rave about how soft it is and how easy it is to put on. The back clip is made up of D-rings which more evenly distribute tension (though there is not a front-clip option). The harness comes in five sizes and four colors.
Best for Large Breeds
Anyone training a dog not to pull them while on walks should try out this harness. It comes in 19 (!!) colors and is equipped with reflective straps and trim to keep you and your dog safer at night time. The mesh material is breathable and there’s a clip available on the back (plus the front) for when your dog graduates from pulling to walking by your side. Easy to get your dog in and out of, there are also tons of adjustable points to ensure a snug fit, without being too tight.
This front-clip harness applies pressure to your dog’s chest, rather than the neck, which makes walking and training more comfortable for your pup. Designed by a veterinary behaviorist, the harness even comes in two-toned versions to make the process of getting it on your dog easier on you. Ideal for dogs who overheat easily, the PetSafe harness provides way less coverage than many other body harnesses. Choose from eight sizes and eight colors. Did we mention it has over 1,500 five-star reviews?
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