Puppy Harness Roundup 2021
Looking for a puppy harness?
Our guide will help you choose the best puppy harness for your pup
So, is a puppy harness better than a collar and lead? This is the age old question with no right answer and is dependent on a number of factors and this guide will help you to choose.
If your puppy is a puller or if you’re in the process of training or lifting your pup then a harness would probably be the best and safest choice. When your pup pulls on a normal collar, they tend to choke themselves and all of the pressure on their throat and windpipe can cause long term damage and breathing problems. Puppy harnesses are much safer and more comfortable for pups that pull, as they distribute the pressure across a larger, less sensitive area. A properly fitting puppy harness could be the difference between your pup slipping its harness getting free or walking happily alongside you on a loose lead!
Despite there being a huge range of puppy harnesses on the market from well known brands to smaller bespoke manufacturers you may be surprised to learn that not all puppy harnesses are the same fit.
Whilst many puppy harnesses come in funky colour schemes and designs, the key thing to consider when purchasing a dog or puppy harness is fit and functionality. An ill fitting harness could be dangerous for your puppy if it allows them to slide out and, in the worse case scenario could even damage your puppies development.
Puppy Harness Training 101
Your puppy can begin basic training and loose lead walks around your home or garden from around eight weeks old.
When using a puppy harness for the first time, it’s a great idea to start out slowly by letting your puppy wear its harness for short periods of time whilst playing indoors or in the garden to help it become accustomed to how it feels. A slow and steady approach with the introduction of the puppy harness reinforced with treats and lots of praise and encouragement will help your puppy to form a positive association with the puppy harness.
Before attempting your first walk outdoors, practice putting the puppy harness on and going for a virtual 'walk' around your home where there are fewer distractions and your puppy can get used to the puppy harness. When your puppy is fully vaccinated and able to venture out into the big wide world you will be ready to take them out wearing their puppy harness and introduce them to outdoor walks and other dogs.
Types Of Puppy Harness
The two main types of puppy harnesses that are available are restrictive harnesses and non restrictive harness and both have pros and cons.
Restrictive Dog Harnesses
Restrictive puppy and dog harnesses usually have a straight band running across the dogs chest that sits over the shoulder joint. This positioning can restrict the movement of the front legs and can be problematic because after a while with the front leg being restricted your dog can alter its natural leg movement even when not wearing the harness and obviously this is an unnatural adaptation. This can be bad for your dog particularly if your puppy or dog is very energetic. Because this adaptation occurs slowly there is a good chance that you will not even notice the difference the puppy harness is having on your puppy but the long term consequences can mean pain and joint problems.
Non Restrictive Dog Harnesses
Most dog owners and trainers agree that there are many benefits of using a puppy harness for your dog but it is really important that you choose a non restrictive puppy when exercising your puppy. Non restrictive puppy harnesses allow full movement of the front legs and shoulder joint which avoids any unnatural joint adaptations in your puppy. The other benefit of a non restrictive puppy harness is that it gives you greater control over your dog or puppy whilst walking or training. The non restrictive harness should fit snugly on your puppy and should allow you to fit two fingers underneath all sides of the harness when fitted. If your puppy harness is not fitted correctly there is a chance that your pup could slip the harness if it is startled.
How To Measure Your Puppy For A Puppy Harness
The issue that many dog owners face is that there aren’t standard dimensions for puppy harnesses across the marketplace. A medium sized puppy harness from one company could possibly be considered an extra large at another which makes choosing a puppy harness without precise measurements very difficult!
So, before shopping for a puppy harness it important that you take a few measurement to help with your purchase.
Weight - Your puppy's weight can help you determine whether a puppy harnesses will be strong enough for them to wear.
Chest Measurement - Using a soft tape measure or piece of string, measure all the way around the largest and thickest part of your pup's chest. Starting at the bottom of the rib cage, bring the tape up and over their back, and then back down to where you began the measurement.
Neck - You’ll need to know your pup's neck size for some types of puppy harnesses. To get this measurement, again simply wrap your tape measure or string around the thickest part of your puppy's neck.
Fitting The Puppy Harness Correctly
The harness should be snug especially around the neck and chest area, but not too tight. There are three checks to do that make sure that your puppy harness is fitted correctly. An incorrectly fitted puppy harness will cause discomfort and injury to your pup.
A well fitted harness should l allow enough room for you to fit your fingers between the dog’s back and the harness.
The strap at the front should fit very comfortably against your pups chest without being loose and sagging toward the front legs or riding up toward its neck. If the front strap sits too high it can miss the chest and put pressure on your pup’s neck
If the puppy harness is too big the front strap will drop down and will not distribute pressure across the chest area as it should. Your puppy could also back out or escape from the harness if the front strap is too high or low. If your pup attempts to slip out of the puppy harness by backing out of it, or tries to pull its head out of the harness, release any pressure on the lead immediately.
Signs That Your Puppy harness Isn't Fitted Correctly
Your pup can step or wiggle out of the harness
There are signs of chafing under the armpits or around the harness
Your puppy is losing fur around the harness area
The chest strap loosens when you walk your puppy
The back part of the puppy harness rotates to the side as you walk
If your puppy refuses to walk and they just stand there on the pavement refusing move or if they put up a fight when you try to put the puppy harness on it might be because the harness isn't fitted correctly.
Imagine if you were wearing an all in one that was far too small and tight for you and that was digging in and chafing against your skin. If it was your only all in one you probably wouldn’t want to wear it too often! In your puppy's mind, going for a walk in an ill fitting puppy harness just isn’t worth the pain and discomfort.