There are 4 aspects to consider when choosing harnesses:
The harness should fit so that the breastbone, chest, shoulders and armpits are all free to move and unencumbered in any way.
The harness should fit above the breastbone.
The chest strap should sit centered along the chest.
The entire shoulder blade should be free to move and not affected by the harness straps.
The straps should be well clear of the armpit. The strap should not be sitting tightly into the armpit.
The material should be able to sit close to the body and offer a lot of support as the dog moves. Material that is soft and stretchy is likely to shift and move around on the body, creating discomfort and lack of support.
Flat nylon webbing offers full support and sits close to the body.
A note about padded mesh material:
Padded mesh can be stretchy and often shifts from position on the body when the dogs moves. It is not an ideal material for a harness.
Style & Configuration
A harness needs to be fully adjustable, where all straps can be changed.
A simply designed harness is often the most functional. Harnesses that are designed to serve additional purposes often sacrifice comfort and support for extra function.
All adjustable straps
All straps on a harness need to be adjustable, to create the best possible fit for the dog.
A note about non-adjustable straps
Straps that cannot be adjusted for length and fit will likely result in a poorly fitted harness.
It is important that a harness has connection points on the back. A back connection allows a dog to feel centered and supported. When a harness only has connection points on the front, a dog can be pulled to one side this places increased pressure on their shoulders. It can feel unsupportive and unstable for the dog.
Back connection ring
A back connection ring keeps your dog centered and feeling supported.
A note about front connection only
Harnesses with connections only at the front can create a lot of twisting in a dog's shoulders. They can get pulled to the side and potentially feel unsupported and disoriented.
Suggested resources: Harness Recommendations
There are 2 harnesses, in all my year's experience working with dogs, that seem to fit really nicely on most body types.
These harnesses are simply harnesses. They are not meant as no-pull tools or seat belts.
Ezydog Quick Fit Harness
This strong and thick harness is also lightweight and very comfortable for your dog to wear. It provides support and rigidity and its rounded edges aren't stiff or abrasive. This harness is made by Ezydog and can be found in retail stores and online.
Quick Fit harness features:
- No chest strap. Moves with the body more freely than a harness with a chest strap.
- Quick grab handle. To handle your dog when strength is required.
- Neoprene covering on neck strap and underneath side buckle. Creates comfort and breathability.
- Floating leash hook up. The o-ring moves side to side independently along the handle. This prevents the harness from shifting to the side when the leash is hanging from harness.
- Light weight construction. Especially helpful for dogs who get hot or dogs who dislike wearing anything on their bodies. Extremely light weight nylon, and incredibly strong.
This harness can be purchased online or in retail stores. EzyDog products are widely available. (Online: click here)
Harmony Harness by Tellington TTouch
This harness is a unique design with multiple connection points. It fits extremely well, due to its short back strap and high positioned breastbone strap.
Harmony Harness features:
- Short back strap. Keeps the harness fitting more centered on the shoulders.
- Multiple adjustments. Every strap on this harness is adjustable, meaning you can customize the fit on your dog's body.
- Multiple buckles. Harness can be put on your dog without them needing to put their head through anything or pick up their paws.
- Unique design. This harness fits on dogs' bodies better than almost every other harness on the market. It is one of the only harnesses shaped like this - even though it looks similar to many others.
Generally the Harmony Harness is not available for purchase in retail stores. It is mainly available online through Tellington TTouch. (Canada - click here, US - click here, UK - click here) For other areas, please search online.
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