How to Fit a Dog Harness? A Complete Guide

How to Fit a Dog Harness?

If you are a dog owner, you would know that buying the right harness for your furry friend and then fitting it on him/her is an art that most of us fail to master. On my several previous harness-related posts, the question I have been asked the most is:

How to correctly fit the dog harness?

While the answer to this question is not a tricky one to fathom, it is not as easy as many newbies might think. However, I have prepared a guide that will walk you through the process.

Why Do Dogs Need a Harness?

Did you know that harnesses date back to ancient times when their use was limited to large, wolf-sized dogs that worked in particular areas, such as war zones, combats, and guard duties?

However, humanity evolved with time, and so did the use of dogs and the use of harnesses for dogs. Now, harnesses have developed to be one of the most trusted tools for domestic dog training. They are also used to protect, secure, and keep your pooch comfortable during in and outdoor activities.

Nowadays, a wide range of dog harnesses is available in the market, with dozens of different designs, utility, and price tags.

How to fit a dog harness

How to Pick the Right Harness for Your Dog?

Don’t believe anyone who says all the harnesses are the same because they are not. Dog harnesses not only vary in colors, sizes, and quality, each harness also has a unique utility and purpose. There are harnesses specially designed for dogs’ behavioral training, while others are built to help injured or sick pet puppies.

But, if your pooch is recovering from an injury, you better pick from dog mobility harnesses, also called support harnesses. They are built for dogs facing trouble in lifting and getting around. A little push helps them to lift smoothly without hurting their back, any joints, or muscles.

Picking the right harness for your four-legged friend according to her needs has gotten a bit trickier. But don’t worry, this blog will hopefully answer your all questions.

What features to look for in a big dog harness?

We have previously talked about the features a dog owner should look for in a harness. Let us briefly revise that before moving ahead.

Utility: From hundreds of dog harnesses available in the market, picking the one that meets your requirements is your task. So, it is better to have a clear idea in mind, writing down your correct measurements and the requirements could as well be a better idea. But, whatever harness you pick should have the following qualities.

It should be stylish: If you have decided to spend a couple of bucks for the harness, you surely won’t want it to look ugly on your beautiful little canine. So, first and foremost: A harness should be stylish.

The correct size: If the harness doesn’t fit, it can create all sorts of problems for you. While a loose harness can be comfortable for the dog to do away with and a 10-pound Yorkie could give you a chase around in a public park, a tight harness can cause harm to your pooch as well. So be very sure about the sizing thing. It is better to manually measure your dog and coordinate with the customer service of the seller for a perfect-fit harness.

The comfort level: Harnesses that padded from inside, made of light and breathable material, and don’t have sharp edges go better with little furry friends. The more comfortable a harness would be, the happier a dog you will get. Find a harness that reduces the pressure on the neck and back of your dog. So, if your pet starts to misbehave, a gentle jerk should alert him to start behaving.

What if I fit the harness incorrectly?

An ill-fitted harness can cause multiple problems for your dog. If it is tightly fit, it might injure your dog while it pulls on the leash, yanks, or tugs during the walk. Similarly, a loosely fit harness can be a massive safety hazard, as well. Imagine you two are walking on a busy street, and your favorite pet slips out of the harness. He will give a good chase down the lane, won’t he? So, why not take the precautionary measures in the first place, right?

Tips to Choose the Right Size Harness for Your Dog

Now you know why the correct fitting of harness matters for your dog. The next step is to choose an exact fit for him/her.

Before you intend to buy one, you should know how to obtain the correct size for your pooch.

Having correct measures of chest, neck, and weight of your dog is necessary to get one that fits him right.

CHEST: Take a measuring tape and put it at the bottom of her rib cage. Now go up and over the back and end where you started. Note that the tape should not be held too tight or too loose. Keep the one-finger gap in between. That’s her chest measurement

NECK: Now, we want to measure the circumference of her neck. For this, you should start from the top of his shoulders and not from the narrower part where she would typically wear her collar.

WEIGHT: Though, the correct measurements of the neck and chest are enough to buy a right fit harness, most harness manufacturers rely on one weight for sizing. You can use any weight machine to help you with that.

Once you are done with that, you are ready to buy a dog harness online or from any pet shop.

how to fit a dog harness

How to Fit a Dog Harness Correctly?

Now that we have taken you through the basics of the harness buying guide let us get to our core question, that is: how to fit a dog harness properly. The first step should be acclimatizing your dog with her new waist jacket.

If you have already bought the harness for your furry friend, you can skip this part if you are willing to get one, read on.

Tips on Acclimating Pet to Harness

Many dogs, especially the younger ones, don’t like an extra burden on their bodies; hence, they dislike collars and harnesses. But that’s okay. At the initial stages, most pets are uncomfortable with harnesses, but they get used to it gradually. All they need is patience, proper attention, and acclimatizing training.

If you are facing such a situation, I would recommend you to take small steps towards it.

Let’s start by making them step into it in the first phase (if it is a step-in harness) and award your puppy a treat every time she does it right. Don’t get carried away if this is longer than you expected (most pets adjust quickly). Be careful that you don’t scare her off. If your pooch develops a disliking to it because you were too impatient, she will find ways to escape it, which can be dangerous for your little furry friend.

 Overhead vs. Step-in Harness:

Most people ask me which of the two types of harnesses are suitable for their dogs. I give them a few tips which I am going to share with my readers here, as well.

Well, first of all, you should know the difference between the two.

Overhead harnesses: Overhead harnesses are the type of harnesses that are slipped over the head of your dog, and after putting each strap into its correct places, the harness is tightened across the torso of the dog.

Step-in Harness: As the name goes, a step-in harness is the one that requires your dog to put their front feet through the 8-shaped figure.

Comparatively, step-in harnesses are easy to put on but are less secure. Overhead harnesses provide more comfort, safety, and security thanks to inner padding and mesh material as compared to step-in harnesses.

That is why overhead harnesses carry more weight as compared to step-in harnesses that are known for their lightweight.

 How to Set-up an Over-Head Harness 

While the overhead harness is easy to put on and take off, they are required to be set up before slipping them over the head of your pooch – and this a tricky. However, the good news is that you won’t have to do it all the time. If you have once set it up correctly, each time, you can loosen it and take it off.

To set up such a harness, the key is starting fairly loose to be able to slip on your dog easily. You can always adjust the straps later. Note that a snug fit harness is the one that allows two fingers between your dog and the harness at any point.

To set up an overhead harness, follow these steps:

Slide the harness over your dog’s neck; don’t fasten any strap at this point.

Now, adjust the chest piece in a way that it touches your dog’s belly and chest.

The chest piece has two buckles on it; you have to adjust these to either side of his/her front legs and snap them back to the harness

Now, you can adjust the harness from the sides, belly, and neck.

Don’t worry if your harness doesn’t have an adjustment point on the stomach; only a few harnesses, such as the Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness, have this option.

 How would I know if the harness was fit correctly?

If your harness shows any of these signs, it is poorly fit:

  • Your dog is losing fur around the harness area
  • The harness is chafing against his/her body
  • Your pooch is wiggling free
  • The back piece of the harness rotating to either side
  • Your dog is still resisting walking

How to fit a dog harness

 How to Fit a Step-in Harness

Some people, especially the new dog owners, might find it difficult to adjust the step-in harness when they took it out from the box. It looks a bit confusing because all of its straps are connected to one and another – and a new person finds it hard to figure out where to begin.

But don’t worry, we got you covered.

The trick here is to find the leash attachment ring.

The leash attachment always goes on the back (on top).

So, open the snap buckle under it, and you will see the harness making an 8 figure.

Make your pooch step in these two holes.

Now pull it over and clip it up, you are good to go.

How to fit a dog harness

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