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Many dog owners have migrated from using the traditional collar and leash to preferring a full harness. A harness places less strain on the neck area and provides far greater control over the dog while walking. The right dog harness can even be used as a very effective training tool if it is used correctly.
But which harness is best for your dog and how do you choose? This professional trainer’s guide to selecting the right harness for your dog will provide you with all the information that you need:
1. Understanding the Types Of Harnesses
There are a variety of different types of harnesses available on the market, each suited to different sizes, breeds and personality characteristics. For example, a harness for an enthusiastic terrier would not be appropriate for a strong but slow St. Bernard. The main types of harnesses include:
– The vest harness fits over the entire body of the dog like a dog jersey and is ideal for dogs that don’t pull when walking and smaller breeds.
– A back clip harness crosses over the front of the chest in a triangular formation and then over the back and around the middle of the chest. The leash is attached over the back of the dog to provide greater control and is suitable for small, medium and large breeds that like to pull.
– A front clip harness is perfect for dogs that love to pull. It removes the opposition reflex as well as the urge to pull like a sled dog.
– A duel clip harness with leash clips in both the front and back of the harness provides the ultimate control. It can also be used as a training tool to stop a dog from pulling.
– The head halter is a little more controversial and not all dog lovers like the thought of a harness placed over the dog’s snout like a dog muzzle. However, it does provide maximum control and eliminates the opposition reflex. A good head halter should not eliminate the dog’s ability to open their mouths to drink, eat or play with a toy like a ball.
2. Doggy Comfort
It is very important that your dog is comfortable in the harness that you have chosen. Find a friendly pet store where you can try the different types of harnesses mentioned above on your dog. You can automatically eliminate the types of harnesses that are not suited to the size, breed or character (personality) of your dog.
Choose a harness that is adjustable as it will be easier to ensure that you get just the right fit. A harness that is too loose will be entirely ineffective and a harness that is too tight might have adverse reactions from your dog (a tight harness may increase the opposition reflex causing your dog to pull). All the straps on the harness should be adjustable.
3. Owner Comfort
Some harnesses can be very complicated to put on and remove. It is better to choose a harness that is easy to do rather than struggling with a complicated design. This can prevent you from taking your dog on walks and stress your pet out before a walk.
It is also important to ensure that you are comfortable with the harness that you have selected and are sure that it is not hurting the dog or providing discomfort.
It is absolutely critical to purchase a quality harness from a reputable manufacturer. Considering the fact that most dog owners choose a harness to prevent a dog from pulling or to increase their control, it would not be good for any parts to break while walking your dog. Losing control over your dog in public can have severe consequences.
The harness should also be made for durability. You don’t want to have to replace the harness every few weeks because of regular wear and tear. Remember that if your dog is a puller, the harness may be put under additional strain. So make sure that all the materials and parts used to make the harness are of the best quality. Buckles are sturdier and better than clips and metal is preferable to plastic.
5. Additional Features
There are some additional features that are not exactly essential but can add value to your dog harness. Some of these features include:
– Reflective tape or glow in the dark patches that make your dog more visible at night.
– A quick release is great to remove the harness quickly if your dog gets snagged or entangled. It’s also great for simply removing the harness after a walk.
– A harness that has storage space for water bottles or other items will give your dog a sense of purpose and that he is fulfilling a function.
There are many other reasons why choosing a harness over a collar is better for you and your dog as long as you choose the right one.