If you are in the market for a dog harness then stick with me and I’ll give you the lowdown on what to get why and how to use it best.
Here we jump into the ins and outs of harnesses.
Table Of Contents
- Here we jump into the ins and outs of harnesses.
- Today, there are essentially two main categories of harnesses, body harnesses, and front hook harnesses.
- Let’s do this smarter. Let’s not try to muscle the dog into compliance.
- Bottom line. Front hook harness is the best choice for a dog that pulls not a body harness.
- The pros of a front hook harness are that it’s the best option for helping train a dog to stop pulling.
- That’s absurd and gimmicky.
- Keep It Simple, Stupid!
- The soft-touch sensation is my favorite. It’s durable, simple, and effective.
- The pet-safe easy walk is my second choice.
- These may be your best choice overall for small and or portly dogs.
- This is one of the highest-rated hybrids on the market right now.
- Here’s a question. What’s been your experience with harnesses and what harnesses do you recommend?
Although dog collars have been around since ancient Egypt, we are not really sure who the first person to harness a dog was.
There’s archaeological evidence of dog harnessing their historical records in Arabian literature of the 10th century regarding the use of sled dogs in the sub-Arctic, and in the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote about seeing dog sleds in the steppes of Siberia.
Even the Chinese wrote about dog’s lives and examples of their 14th-century poetry.
At any rate, harnesses have gone through roughly three birthing periods.
The first was when we harnessed dogs to sleds. At this point, dogs were working animals, not companions.
The slides allowed us to traverse ice, snow, and even modern conditions that precluded horses or carriages.
The second was when we developed smaller breeds and dogs started moving into companion territory.
Dogs were being bred to hang out rather than work and harnesses allowed us to pull them to safety without breaking their necks.
The third, of course, is the modern age where harnesses of many types are available at most pet stores and dogs run the full gamut for everything from working animals to companions.
Nowadays, there are so many configurations and intended purposes you got to go in knowing what you need. That’s what this article is all about.
Today, there are essentially two main categories of harnesses, body harnesses, and front hook harnesses.
Each one serves different overall purposes.
Let’s first talk about the main reason people get harnesses in the first place because their dogs pull.
Now you’ve probably been told that You need a harness at some point by a well-meaning pet store employee or a friendly neighbor.
However, putting a body harness on your dog’s will just make pulling worse, you’ve got to come at the problem from a different angle.
Literally. When your dog’s wearing a body harness and they start forging ahead, it’s natural for us to hold them back even to try to pull them back.
Since harnesses were originally invented to attach dogs to dog sled, and by design, a harness redistributes pressure onto the dog’s frame.
In essence, this makes it a more comfortable pull, that’s the problem.
It just becomes a test of strength and reduces it to oppositional forces. But the dog’s lower center of gravity and powerful back legs, you’re going to have a struggle no matter what kind of dog to have.
Let’s do this smarter. Let’s not try to muscle the dog into compliance.
Instead of oppositional energy, it’s much easier to convert to rotational energy.
This is the principle behind a front hook harness. If the dog pulls the harness starts to turn their body around and the dogs won’t go in a direction they are not facing.
As with any training tool, though, the ultimate goal is to use it as a waystation and phase-out of the tool over time.
A well mannered nonreactive dog that walks nicely on a leash could then go back to a flat collar or a body harness. Likewise, there are definitely instances when a front hook harness is an inappropriate choice and a body harness is better.
The two most prevalent examples for the modern pet owner are if you want to tire your dog out, or when you’re traveling in a car.
A body harness is far superior in these instances over a front hook harness or even a collar.
A back hook body harnesses also better if you engage in athletic activities with your dog such as jogging, agility, frisbee, or fetch or dock diving.
A front hook harness can somewhat impede the full range of motion in the shoulders. Also, if your dog is well trained and walks politely using a body harness is really a nonissue anyways.
In some cases, especially if you live in hilly areas, you may want to train to pull.
Any dog trainer worth their salt knows that putting an annoying behavior on cue builds an off switch for it.
Training your dog to pull when you want can help cease pulling at other times and a body harness is best in this regard.
So let’s break this down a bit.
The pros of a front hook harness are that it’s the best option for helping train a dog to stop pulling.
It’s easier to put on and remove most of the best brands that are lickety-split on and off.
On the other side, though, they can be chewed up if they’re left on so they’re not recommended to be worn all of the time, and they’re not recommended for tying out riding in the car or for athletic activities.
The pros have a back hook or body harness are that they can be worn all the time. They were appropriate for tying out or for securing in a car.
They’re better for athletic activities with your dogs, and they’re good secure safety for smaller dogs, perhaps even the best choice for toy breeds.
On the downside though, they’re not recommended for determining pullers and they can be a pain to get on and on.
These use interesting configurations of cords and straps to put pressure on different places on the dog’s body. I’ve given many of these a series of test runs over the years and they’re all pretty hit and miss in that regard.
Plus, they can be overpriced and complicated to get on.
As I’ve said many times before, I’m inherent of the KISS principle, keep it simple, stupid. I don’t like having to maneuver a dog around a lot just to get the stupid thing on.
I don’t want to have to mess with that I want the harness to go on and off lightning fast.
So for example, the sport no-pull harness, it’s about 50/50 effectiveness, and for massive dogs, it’s pretty useless.
There’s also the freedom no-pull harness. It’s not bad, but their system like many others relies too heavily on the hardware to the leash.
That’s absurd and gimmicky.
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Leverage is the key along with solid training techniques. Any company that promises to do the job for you is lying.
Here are my harness recommendations as far as front hooks harness.
The soft-touch sensation is my favorite. It’s durable, simple, and effective.
The pet-safe easy walk is my second choice.
It’s also a pretty darn good harness.
For body harnesses the column Comfort Control grip is my favorite overall, the handle allows the dog to be restrained, lifted, and even secured in the car without any additional equipment.
Both the Four Paws Comfort Control harness and the Voyager Step for little guys have a reasonable match that offers support and less chafing.
These may be your best choice overall for small and or portly dogs.
There are also some nifty hybrids out there that offer dual connection points for the best of both worlds.
For example, the Ruffwear Front Range harnesses durable and well made and features dual connection points on the back and the front. It’s suitable for walking, training, and traveling in the car.
Incidentally, there’s also the Kurgo Dog Harness
Reviews are 50/50 on the overall durability of this harness although it is very well rated in Amazon.
It’s one of those harnesses for those of you who have a strong dog and may want to consider getting.
So good luck choosing a harness if you need one.
This great video from Simpawtico explains a lot about harnesses and will give you a great insight into the science behind the different types too.
Here’s a question. What’s been your experience with harnesses and what harnesses do you recommend?
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer!