Choosing the Best Dog Harness for Walking

A dog harness is a good walking tool, especially if you're concerned about the amount of pressure a dog is putting on his neck during walking. This is especially important for dogs with flattened faces, such as bulldogs and pugs, that have difficulty breathing anyway. Which harness you choose largely depends on your needs.

For dogs with long backs, such as daschunds and basset hounds, consult your veterinarian before moving to a harness, because the wrong type may cause back problems.

Standard Dog Harness

Standard harnesses hook on your dog's back and may be put on by sliding the two front legs through or sliding it over the head and fastening it behind the front legs. If your dog doesn't pull and you just don't want to use a collar, this is a good choice for you.

These harnesses come in all styles and colors but won't do anything to reduce your dog's pulling. In fact, they actually encourage pulling because they put the hook on the back, where your dog can naturally resist against the pressure and pull harder. Though it won't cause pressure on the neck, it still won't eliminate pulling.

Sporn Dog Harness

Sporn harnesses are the one back-hook harness that may reduce pulling in your dog. That's because, even though the hook is on the back, the harness puts pressure between the dog's front legs, causing them to naturally reduce the pressure.

The biggest problem with these harnesses is their difficulty to hook up. They are made with a series of strings that look like shoe strings that hook under your dog's legs and then are pulled through the top until they're tight. The harness also includes a collar, which the strings run through to reach the back. If you purchase one, don't throw away the instructions because you'll need them the first few times.

In addition, you may be a little nervous using it on your large, strong dog since the straps are so small. Though they don't break easily, they may be best used with smaller dogs.

Front-Hook Dog Harnesses

A favorite among dog trainers, front hook harnesses place the hook on your dog's chest, where you attach the leash. These harnesses slide over the neck and hook under the front legs, placing all the pressure on your dog's chest. Thus, when your dog tries to resist against the pull of the leash, he actually slows down.

These have been shown to significantly reduce pulling, but they can break if put on improperly, so make sure not to put the hook on the back. Use instructions the first couple of times you try this type of dog harness.

Premiere was the first to make this harness famous, calling it the Easy Walk harness. These are the most widely available, but there are other companies that make similar harnesses, such as Sense-ation.

If your dog isn't a puller, you may not need to purchase a no-pull harness. Selecting a dog harness is largely about assessing your needs and choosing the best harness for those.