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Finding the Right Harness for Your Dog

Unlike collars, which control a dog by attaching to the neck, a harness wraps around the dog's body. The leash attaches to a ring at the top of the dog's back, usually at the withers (shoulder blades). While a variety of different styles are available, it’s important to keep your dog's comfort as the primary consideration.

No-Pull Harness

There are some "no-pull" harnesses on the market. The no-pull harness puts a varying amount of pressure in the area between the dog's front legs and chest (armpits) when the leash tightens. Watch for pinching under the front legs; the no-pull harness can cause abrasion in the armpits.

Regular Harness

The regular harness distributes the pulling force more or less evenly across the chest and shoulders, and can actually allow the dog to pull harder. Regular harnesses are fairly benign pieces of equipment, when fitted appropriately. They rarely cause pain, and sometimes work quite well on small dogs, who cannot pull against the harnesses. Regular harnesses are preferred for dogs who have had neck injuries.


Proper fitting is important. Different types of harnesses attach in a variety of ways. Care should be taken to avoid chafing under the dog's front legs. The harness should not be too tight. Sizes often appear on the packaging with dimensions. Utilizing dimensions of the dog, estimate harness size and adjust the harness to the dog's size. With the D-ring facing the dog's tail, slip the dog's head through the loop. A harness is ineffective when used to stop pulling by medium to large dogs, except when a no-pull harness is used.


A harness is not effective on most dogs for training, because it allows them to use the full force of their legs and chest to pull against the leash. On small dogs, a harness can be an excellent choice, as they cannot really pull against it (they are so low to the ground). It also protects their neck and trachea.

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