pug in a harness

Harnesses can be great tools for dogs. These accessories enable you to walk your pet safely, while not neglecting their comfort. However, the advantages of the harness do not overshadow those of the classic dog collar. You can have both accessories, for use in different situations.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of a dog harness, which model to buy, and in which situations it is best to use it.

Pros of Dog Harnesses

The dog harness counteracts one of the main drawbacks of the traditional dog collar, which is the sometimes-excessive pressure exerted on the animal’s neck or nape.

Placed at chest and back level, a dog harness does not exert any pressure on your dog’s neck. This accessory, therefore, presents less risk to dogs that tend to pull on a leash.

For owners, it is also easier to control the strength of a powerful dog with a harness than with a collar. Be sure to choose the harness carefully, however. A harness that is not the right size, that does not adjust easily, and/or that moves all the time can cause problems: reduced mobility of the dog, chafing and irritation on the skin, increased possibility that the dog wiggles out of the harness, etc.

Here are more advantages of the dog harness:

  • Is more comfortable than a collar
  • Is useful for puppy training
  • Prevents the leash from getting caught under the dog’s paws
  • Trains the dog to stop pulling
  • Helps relieve dog back pain

Cons of Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses also have a few drawbacks to consider:

  • More complicated to put on and take off.
  • Risk of injury to the dog’s chest if the harness is poorly adjusted
  • Risk of pain if too tight
  • Uncomfortable in hot weather
  • Risk of skin infection if a wet harness stays on the dog too long
  • Possibility of irritation in the armpits and under the chest due to prolonged friction

In any case, it is essential to never leave your dog in a harness without supervision. Your dog could get stuck somewhere and choke trying to get free.

dog in the park with harness and leash
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Choosing the Right Harness for Your Dog

To limit the potential risks associated with dog harnesses, it is essential to choose the right type, size, and material for your pet. Do not hesitate to seek advice from a certified dog trainer or a veterinarian before buying a harness. Every dog has unique characteristics related to their size, breed, age, and behavior, so buying a dog harness should not be done on a whim.

Type of Harnesses

Front-clip harness

This type of harness is often used for large dogs because the handle on the back is a useful control accessory. While practical for walks, it’s not necessarily recommended for sports activities because its shape can sometimes hinder your dog’s movements. Some models with an additional chest strap can be used as an anti-pull harness. The advantage of this type of harness is that it is simple and quick to put on, as it goes over the head and is strapped at the level of the belly, behind the front legs.

Step-in harness

This harness is less easy to put on than a front-clip harness but allows good control. Pass your dog’s front legs through the straps to put it on. Choose a harness with wide enough straps to avoid chafing if your dog tends to pull on their leash. It is recommended for walks.

Dual clip harness

This type of harness is versatile and comfortable. It provides good support for your dog during walks, whether attached in “traction” mode (leash attached to the back) or in anti-traction mode (attachment on the chest).

Back-clip harness

This type of harness has an attachment point between the dog’s shoulder blades. It is ideal for relatively calm dogs because it does not prevent the dog from pulling.

dachshund in red harness
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Harness Size

This is an essential feature to consider because the harness must be adapted to your dog’s morphology. It is therefore advisable to measure the circumference of your pet’s chest in order to determine the correct size harness for them.


For better comfort, choose a dog harness with breathable material that wicks away perspiration.

Bottom Line

Harnesses aren’t bad for dogs if you use them wisely. The fit should be right for your dog and the type of harness chosen should be based on the activities that you do together. For example, a harness for hiking will not be a wise choice if you only take leisurely walks in the park.

Moreover, a harness will not miraculously solve the problem of a dog constantly pulling on their leash; if this is the case for your pet, you will need to combine the use of a no-pull harness with proper training. In short, the dog harness can be a great accessory for your dog, but it also has disadvantages that you must consider before making the purchase.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay