If your dog spends their entire on-leash walk choking against their collar, you might be considering using a harness. Maybe your dog already wears a harness, but it’s rubbing their skin or they don’t like putting it on.
There are lots of reasons you might choose to use a harness alongside a collar. These include:
– To have a better connection and better control of your dog
– To reduce pulling, using a front and back attaching harness with two points of contact (one end of the leash snaps to the front ring and the other end snaps to the back ring), while you work on loose-leash walking training
– To reduce the risk of neck injuries, such as laryngeal paralysis or tracheal collapse. A harness distributes the pressure across a larger, less delicate area of the body.
– To minimize problems and discomfort for dogs with respiratory issues
Lori Stevens, the owner of Seattle TTouch, is a professional dog trainer, certified animal behavior consultant, small animal massage practitioner, and certified canine fitness trainer. She explains that “an incorrectly fit harness can do a lot of damage both physically and behaviorally.”
Where possible, take your dog for a fitting rather than ordering online, unless the company has a video and written instructions for fitting the harness. There are many styles and sizing options, and what suits one dog may not offer the best fit for the next.
If your dog has been wearing an ill-fitting harness or they aren’t keen on having one put over their head, you may need to help them feel comfortable. Never force the harness over a nervous dog’s head—you’ll only make them less enthusiastic about heading out on a walk, and they may become distrustful and could even start snapping out of fear.