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How to Find the Best Dog Harness to Stop Pulling

brown dog with white spots tugging on a green harness that is being held by a person in front of them

Have you ever tried to walk a dog that is constantly pulling at the leash? It often leaves your arms aching and your stress level at a high. But don’t worry, there are tools available to help you take back control during your daily walks. Today, I’m going to break my tips and tricks to find the best dog harness to stop pulling for YOUR dog.

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It is no secret that most dogs get overly excited at the idea of going on a walk.

You simply have to touch the basket that contains our dogs’ leashes and they both come running as fast as they can, voicing their opinion along the way.

Walks are a time to explore, check out the new smells and sounds in the area and bond with us, their loving owners.

Unfortunately, that bonding experience can take a quick turn if there’s a lack of leash manners!

No dog owner envisions the perfect walk with their dog complete with being dragged down the sidewalk.

But the problems associated with leash pulling don’t stop there…

This bad habit can cause some serious harm to your dog if it is allowed to get out of control.

Especially if your dog is wearing a standard dog collar.

medium-sized black dog walking with a person in jeans and running shoes through a field, wearing a red and black back clip harness

As your dog is constantly tugging at their leash, they are putting pressure directly onto their neck, specifically onto the windpipe.

This is why many dogs will make a choking sound when they are pulling.

As if the sound of your dog literally choking yourself isn’t concerning enough, this pressure on your dog’s windpipe can have a long-term health impact.

A study published in Veterinary Record investigated the health risks of different collar types.

Researchers tested 8 different types of collars including leather collars, flat collars and padded collars, measuring the force on a dog’s neck when they are pulling.

The result? They found that even pulling lightly, your dog could be doing damage.

It’s not about the type of collar used, it’s the pull on the lead, and even at a light pull, dogs risk damage to their neck when walked on a collar and lead. Essentially, for a dog that pulls, there is no such thing as a good collar, and they should only be used as a means of displaying ID tags, not for restraint or control. Nothing can replace training a dog to walk on a loose lead but a non-restrictive harness keeps pressure off the neck area if they do pull.




Dr. Anne Carter

The study revealed something that many dog trainers have been saying for years – the best tool to teach your dog to walk safely is a properly fitting harness!

Before we go further, I do want to address one important point…

A no-pull harness is a tool to be used as part of a larger training plan. It is NOT a fix all solution that will magically transform your dog’s leash manners.

Far too often, I see people complaining that a harness didn’t work because their dog continued to pull after putting it on.

You need to put the effort into leash training your dog.

Like any tool, not all harnesses are created equally.

You wouldn’t walk into an electronics store and buy the first computer that you stumbled upon.

Instead, you need to do your research and consider the factors that differentiate one harness from another.

Related: ‘How Early Should You Start Leash Training A Puppy?

There are many, many different dog harnesses on the market.

Today, I’m going to break own the 5 main factors that I consider when selecting a harness for my dogs.

If you read ‘Best Dog Harness to Stop Pulling’ and thought I was going to sell you on a single harness, you’re about to be disappointed…

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.

Instead, there will be a ‘best harness’ for each individual dog, and they aren’t all the same.

In fact, we have two dogs, and we use two different harnesses.

Photo Credit: Bailey Lynn D Photography

As you can see in this picture, captured by Bailey Lynn D Photography, we use an Easy Walk Dog Harness from PetSafe for Indiana and a Gentle Leader Headcollar from PetSafe for Daviana.

The secret is to find the harness that works best for YOU and YOUR DOG.

This may involve some trial and error, taking note of which harness your dog is most comfortable with.

However, the following 5 points will give you a good starting point…

5 Key Factors to Consider When Searching for the Best Dog Harness to Stop Pulling

#1 – Will This Harness Keep Your Dog Safe?

Your first priority should always be your dog’s safety.

This means finding a harness that will not scratch, choke or injure your dog in any way.

When you first purchase a new harness, try it on your dog at home.

Check over your dog, taking note of how the harness fits on your dog’s individual build. Remember: Every dog is different!

A harness that fits one dog beautifully may ride up or rub somewhere on another dog.

Inspect the clips on the harness to ensure that they are solid and secure.

If your dog is able to break free from the harness, this could put them in danger. You want to be sure that this harness is going to hold up.

For your first walk on a new harness, stick to something short and close to home.

This is going to give you the chance to see the harness in action, taking note of how it moves on your dog and whether there are any concerns.

If you notice that the harness is restricting your dog’s movement or altering their ability to walk normally, it’s time to consider another option.

Restricting your dog’s range of motion may cause unnecessary injuries.

#2 – Is the Quality of This Harness Going to Stand Up?

If you’re going to invest in a harness for your dog, you want to purchase something that is going to last.

This is especially true for larger dogs or those that are known for being destructive.

Look into the materials that are used in the construction of the harness(es) that you are considering.

Is it going to stand up to everyday wear and tear?

Take a look at the quality of construction to ensure that it is stitched and assembled securely.

Finally, trust your gut. You know your dog best.

If you feel like something isn’t going to stand up to your dog, keep searching.

Related: ‘7 Effective Leash Training Tips

#3 – Is Your Dog Comfortable Wearing This Harness?

This is a point that I’ve already mentioned in passing above, but it deserves to be mentioned directly.

You wouldn’t want to wear something that was uncomfortable and neither does your dog.

Points of concern could range from irritating to outright painful.

When you put the harness on your dog, pay attention to any areas that they are responding to specifically.

This may include itching or biting at the harness in one specific area.

#4 – Is the Price Point Both Fair AND Reasonable?  

While this shouldn’t be the sole driving factor in selecting a harness for your dog, it is definitely a point to consider!

If it looks ‘too good to be true’, it often is. A cheap product may be made with poor quality materials or workmanship.

However, I understand that you work hard for your money.

For this reason, you also want to find something that is cost-effective and doesn’t break the bank.

#5 – Does This Harness Reflect Your Personality?

If a harness fits the first 4 criteria on this list, it’s time to factor your personal style into your decision.

After all, this is something that your dog is going to be wearing regularly out in public!

Do you have a favourite colour?

Is there a specific pattern that instantly caught your attention?

Are there any colours/patterns that you would prefer to avoid?

There are SO many different harnesses on the market today, which means there really is something for everyone.

It may take some time to dig through the options, but the effort is worth it.

brown dog with white spots tugging on a green harness that is being held by a person in front of them with text discussing how to find the best dog harness to stop pulling

Are you currently on the journey to find the best dog harness to stop pulling, or have you already found the ‘right’ harness for your dog?

I invite you to share your tips, advice or questions relating to dog harnesses in the comment section.

About Author

Britt is a digital/social media marketer and the owner of The Social Alternative. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending her time with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs Daviana and Indiana and their 2 cats Pippen and Jinx. A proud pet mom, she shares all her pet-related tips, tricks and funny pet antics on Shed Happens.

39 Comments

  • Clarissa Cabbage
    November 2, 2020 at 2:00 am

    Thanks for this Britt! My pup is definitely a puller. We have a very nice harness for her which works pretty well! However, I need to get back to training her on her leash manners for sure. It’s really been a struggle with my shoulder/wrist injuries, so instead we’ve been playing off leash at the dog park, and she’s gotten rusty oleash manners. Time to get back at it!

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 2, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      They can definitely get rusty when you’re not out walking them regularly and holding them to their leash manners. That being said, you can only do so much if you’re dealing with shoulder/wrist injuries. I remember having to get the Dav girl back into it after surgery myself. The good news is that they do pick up on it even quicker than the initial training.

      Reply
  • Lisa Fucci
    November 2, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Great article. I have been fortunate that my dogs aren’t really pullers per say, but my pet mini highland is. LOL, but a cow is a while different story and topic!

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 2, 2020 at 3:06 pm

      A cow is definitely a whole different story lol!

      Reply
  • Malika
    November 3, 2020 at 12:58 am

    I don’t own any dogs but I do own 2 cats and now I’m thinking of getting a good leash for them and taking them on walks 😂

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 3, 2020 at 10:05 pm

      I walk our cats on their harnesses.
      Check out my Pet Resources page to see which harnesses we’re using: https://shedhappens.net/pet-resources/
      I have been SUPER impressed with their harnesses both for security and their comfort.

      Reply
  • Denise
    November 3, 2020 at 4:26 am

    I thought that a harness is only just a harness but now I’ve realized that even your choice of harness can have lasting impact on a dog. I currently do not own any pets but still learning a lot from your posts! 💕

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 3, 2020 at 10:01 pm

      That’s the biggest misconception in first-time dog owners. Most movies/television shows only ever show the standard back clip harness, and so it’s not surprising that it’s the only harness most people are familiar with.

      Reply
  • Sudipta Dev
    November 3, 2020 at 4:56 am

    This is such an informative post about dog harness. I am going to share this with my friends and family members who have dogs, I am sure they will find it very useful.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 3, 2020 at 9:44 pm

      Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  • Berlin Domingo
    November 3, 2020 at 8:09 am

    We dont have a dog but my father in law has. This is a nicento sharenwith him.

    Reply
  • Melanie williams
    November 3, 2020 at 9:14 am

    This is so important, many people start off wrong with the wrong type of lead so this is great advice x

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 3, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      It can make a BIG difference in terms of how difficult the training process will be.

      Reply
  • Di Hickman
    November 3, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    I’ve had a few dogs and yes each has had different styles of collar/harness. We had one that nothing would stop her pulling, some dogs see a harness as something to pull harder against, unfortunately. Training is KEY.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 3, 2020 at 9:36 pm

      That is especially common with harnesses that hook on the back. There are many trainers that will encourage people to avoid using those for that very reason.

      Reply
  • Grimaldo Ortiz
    November 4, 2020 at 2:58 am

    I had a bad experience with a harnesses before. I noticed it was suffocating my dog, she used to run every time she was out for a walk. Thanks for the information!

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 4, 2020 at 7:09 am

      That is a perfect example of why it’s so important to try a harness on and check everything over to make sure that your pet is safe and comfortable wearing it. That harness may have been great for another dog, but every dog is unique.

      Reply
  • Monidipa
    November 9, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Either dogs or cats, both I guess need leashes. I don’t have any pets, but my best friend recently got a new puppy, I’ll share it with her for her help!

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 9, 2020 at 5:03 pm

      Congratulations to your best friend! It’s an exciting time.
      The ‘New Pet’ area would be a great place for her to start – full of tips and tricks unique to that new addition to the family (https://shedhappens.net/new-pet/)

      Reply
  • Jenny in Neverland
    November 13, 2020 at 5:47 am

    Really informative post. My dog can’t wear a collar because he would pull so much he made himself faint a couple of times. Which obviously wasn’t good. So he wears a harness and it’s definitely difficult sometimes to find the perfect fit.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 13, 2020 at 5:49 pm

      My girl pulls like crazy if she’s on a normal collar. She’s trained with a Gentle Leader, and it’s like night and day when she’s wearing it. The second that we put it on, she slips into a different mindset where she walks beautifully beside me and I can even go hands off.

      Reply
  • Eric Gamble
    November 21, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    So we don’t have dogs anymore but I have to say one of the worst feelings was always walking the different dogs and suddenly jerking my arm back and feeling like I was accidently going to break the dog’s neck! We never had harnesses but I really wish I did, especially when they were excited puppies. Personally, I think I would prefer the Easy Walk Dog Harness from PetSafe over the leader cause the idea of jerking their neck is a bit stressful on me.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 22, 2020 at 12:01 pm

      They are both great options, that’s the best part! There is something for every situation that will make both you and your pet feel comfortable. The purpose of the head harness style is to avoid the jerking action entirely. However, if that’s a worry, the Easy Walk is definitely a great solution!

      Reply
  • Viano
    November 22, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    This is nice. I wish I knew this when I had dogs. Well, better late than never.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 23, 2020 at 11:33 am

      It’s one aspect of training that many, many dog owners overlook. You’re definitely not alone!

      Reply
  • Dani
    November 22, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    I don’t have dogs yet. But this is helpful information for when I get a dog. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 23, 2020 at 11:32 am

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • Indya
    November 23, 2020 at 1:15 am

    I often see dogs eagerly pulling on their harnesses when their out for walks (and, I have to admit, it’s adorable to see them so excited), but I honestly had no idea that a change in harness could help stop that! Your blog has taught me so much about owning pets.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 23, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Our dogs get SUPER excited, and at times we will allow them to run around and be hyper, happy pups. However, they also understand when to behave and walk properly so that it can be a pleasant experience for everyone. That’s the key. I love seeing them excited, but if my dog wanted to pull me down the road, she totally has the muscle strength to do so!

      Reply
  • Kemi
    November 23, 2020 at 5:14 am

    Leas manners…interesting. Didn’t think such a training existed but I have seen many dogs walking their owners and not the other way round lol.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 23, 2020 at 11:02 am

      That’s the perfect example of what happens when leash manners are overlooked. If they don’t know any better, they will resort to whatever feels ‘right’ in the moment, which is often to pull so that they can explore their surroundings and take control.

      Reply
  • Shar
    November 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Choosing the correct harness for your canine friend is very important. It not only helps control it in public for the safety of others but the dog itself, as well. I hate it when I see dogs wearing uncomfortable equipment, as it could be hurting them at times.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 24, 2020 at 1:07 pm

      It breaks my heart when you see a dog that’s noticeably uncomfortable. There are so many options out there, surely there’s something that will work for them.

      Reply
  • Nkem
    November 24, 2020 at 7:10 am

    These are really important considerations! The safety of the animal should, for sure, come first. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 24, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      Definitely! We always want to do everything in our power to keep our pets safe and healthy.

      Reply
  • Melanie
    November 24, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    A dog harness is more important than what people think. These are such good points to consider and good of you to share x

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      Right? It’s an important tool and the process of finding the right one is super important!

      Reply
  • LiveLoveAndAdventure
    November 26, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    What a great harness. I’ve tried several for my pups, both who are 9 lbs. it’s hard to find one that they like. They are either too big or too small.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 27, 2020 at 2:09 pm

      That’s definitely a struggle. Do you have a specialty pet store nearby? Most of them will allow you to bring the dog in to be fit in-store. I’ve never had a dog that small before, but I do know that the Easy Walk has a ‘petite’ size that’s recommended for dogs under 10lbs. Plus, the website gives you measurements for the chest and girth, making it easier to find the right fit.

      Reply

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