Why Is A Harness Good For My Dog? [10 Proven Training Steps]


Nowadays, most dogs only wear collars. Yet dog harness are slowly gaining more popularity. Whether your dog is outside or not, chances are it is wearing its collar all day. While a collar might be adverse to your pup’s health, dog harnesses promise to be a better solution. In this article, we will concisely let you know why a harness is good for your dog.

Why Is A Harness Good For My Dog

Answered: Why Is A Harness Good For My Dog?

A dog harness is suitable for your dog because it distributes the forces of pulling more evenly than a collar could do. With heavy pullers, dog harnesses prevent posture problems, asphyxiation, and thyroid dysfunction. Overall, your dog will feel fewer drawbacks and will be calmer with a harness on.

Why Is A Harness Better Than A Collar?

Collars are a pretty accessory and they can even be combined with your dog’s collar under the right circumstances. But overall we arrived at the conclusion that dog collars cause by far worse effects in your dog than a harness.

You will not have to worry too much about collar-typical consequences such as abnormal posture, hormonal changes, or trachea constriction with a harness. A harness can also be extended with add-ons, makes your dog more visible in the dark, and prevent your pup from pulling.

Harnesses work great on puppies, too – in fact, there are even dog harnesses you can adjust to your pup’s size. That way, your dog grows up with the same harness.

Why Does A Dog Need A Harness?

There are several good reasons why it’s good practice to consider training your dog to wear a harness. It mostly comes down to preserving your pup’s health, expandable options, and safety concerns.

  • Health. Harnesses distribute the weight upon pulling more evenly around your dog’s body. So first, your dog needs a harness because it will help your dog avoid health-related issues and help you to reduce the bills at the vet.
  • Versatility. Harnesses can be extended with different modules, depending on what type of harness you got. You could consider getting small side bags or pockets and let your dog carry it’s snacks or some water (never let your adult dog carry more than 20% of its weight). You could also install pressure distribution pads that are beneficial to your dog’s comfort.
  • Safety. First, a dog harness has one more locations to connect your leash to. Harnesses mostly come with a clip in the front and on your dog’s back. While your dog is running with a long lead attached, it could seriously harm itself if the lead where to get stuck somewhere. Harnesses reduce that risk if your leash/long line is attached to the back clip. Second a harness can greatly increase visibility. Some harness come with reflectors on the sides that are useful in the dark. Other accessories are useful when your dog is traveling with you by car. There are often car tethers for harnesses that allow your dog to effectively wear a seatbelt, too.

Why Does A Harness Calm My Dog?

If you noticed that your dog suddenly gets calmer or even less anxious when it has a harness on, this has to do with the fit and cut of the harness. The harness applies a very soft, yet continuous pressure to your dogs chest and its mid body. Dogs appreciate the subtle pressure of harnesses around their body.

A snug fit has a calming effect on most dogs. That is actually similar to children who appreciate getting warmly dressed in velvety clothes. The feeling of being held by something is also very pleasant for dogs. A harness can even contribute to decreasing anxiety in dogs.

Similar to harnesses on the outside, some dog clothes can contribute to their well-being inside your house. When faced with anxiety due to loud noise, anxiety at the vet, or separation from you, firm dog clothes can help. Especially thundershirts are recommended in such cases. Similar to a harness, they apply this gentle, soothing pressure around your dog’s body.

Overall, if the harness is a good fit, it will likely calm your dog and make it feel more at ease.

What Can I About My Dog Being Afraid Of His Harness?

In order to get rid of any prior negative feelings, it is time to come up with a strategy that involves a lot of treats and praise. Naturally, this process will not happen in one day. The goal is to create a positive attitude and behavior change in your dog when it is confronted with a harness. Some harnesses require your dog to put its head through, which may be scary for some dogs. This can lead up to a point where your dog hates putting his harness on. In that case, try finding a harness that your dog can step in. We set up a guide for you that will help you habituating your dog to its harness.

10 Steps How To Desensitize Your Dog And Make Him Wear A Harness

  • Step 1. With a bunch of snacks, sit down and face your dog, the harness located next to you.
  • Step 2. Present the harness to your dog, and make your dog excited about it.
  • Step 3. Get some treats ready, put them close to the harness, and let your dog get the snacks off your hand. Ideally put your hand closely to the harness, so your dog will touch the harness while it’s eating the treat.
  • Step 4. The moment your dog eats the treat, praise it or use a clicker.
  • Step 5. Do no put on the harness just yet and do not move it towards your dog. Rather, let your dog make the first move and let it approach the harness.
  • Step 6. Do steps 1-5 for a minute and then wait for half a minute. Do not interact with your dog at all during break time. This will give your dog enough time to process what has happened. Your dog will process while chewing and it make the connection between praise and harness through your traits.
  • Step 7. Repeat this process multiple times over the course of a couple days.
  • Step 8. If you noticed an improvement, it is now time to do the same process all over again, but this time instead of only letting your dog approach the harness, it is time to slowly start putting it on your dog.
  • Step 9. Start with putting one paw in it, if possible. This is the big moment, so make sure to have a bunch of extra treats ready.
  • Step 10. Reward your dog, then take off the harness. Rinse and repeat for a couple of days. Always go a bit further: Wrap it around your dog’s head, close the buckle, done.

If your dog feels uncomfortable in any way and barks, growls, or bites you, stop interacting with it, walk away for a short time, and try again. Lower your expectations and give your dog the time it needs to get comfortable with the harness. Always reward your dog.

Why Is A Harness Good For My Dog

Why Is My Dog Afraid Of A Harness?

If you do not belong to the fortunate group of dog owners that ask themselves ‘Why is my dog calmer with a harness on?’, your pup likely connects wearing a harness to a negative experience. For example, it might have gotten pinched by the buckle when you were trying to put it on.

Otherwise, it might not have any experience with harnesses at all. Getting a dog used to harness itself can be a process. It might take a while for your dog to get used.

You can change this behavior by correcting your dog’s attitude and override current negative feelings.

Why Is My Dog Not Moving With A Harness On?

It may have happened to you that your dog seemed to completely have changed its personality the moment it had its harness on. That’s because a harness is a snug fit.

Alternatively, behavior change usually happens a while after your dog got introduced to the idea of roaming around in a harness. Let your dog get comfortable with the harness and give it the time it needs. For advice how to do this, refer to our guide with best practices.

How Will A Dog Harness Stop Pulling?

Pulling is self-reinforcing behavior. This means that the more you instinctively pull back, the more your dog will pull. To solve this problem, there are no-pull harnesses.

The way no-pull harnesses work is by a certain placement of their straps. Those will distribute the pulling forces of your dog differently compared to normal harness. The force is translated to the front of your dog’s body, creating a feeling of imbalance. While this is safe for your dog, it is also very effective in preventing your pup from pulling too much on the leash/long lead.

Is Walking A Dog With Harness Or Walking Without Better?

Walking your dog with no harness on means that you probably opted for a collar in the first place. Perhaps you made the experience that your dog does not like to wear harnesses. In fact, harnesses are a good investment in your dog’s health and it is never too late to start habituating your dog to to one.

Walking your dog with harness is a great choice. It is important that the harness fits your dog really well. There are different sizes, and you should measure your dog’s girth to find out which size will be the right one. It is better to go with a bigger harness when in doubt. That is because although a harness distributes forces of pulling more equally, a harness that is too tight might chafe around your dog’s armpits. Hence, the only disadvantages of dog collars are related to their fit. While most harnesses are not bad for dogs, negative consequences arise from disproportionate fit and might lead to hair loss, sore shoulder muscles and inflammation in areas where the harness sits tight. When a dog suddenly doesn’t like his harness anymore, it likely happened that a harness caused him discomfort in the past.

Where Can I Donate A Dog Harness?

There are several reasons why a dog harness is not needed anymore. Your pup has outgrown his harness or the harness is only adjustable to a certain degree. Before you store your dog’s harness somewhere and forget about it, consider donating a dog harness to an animal shelter around you. Animal shelters often rely on donations. The staff working there will be grateful for any donation. The poor souls patiently waiting for a new owner would surely appreciate some new gear they can wear when going on walks.

Final Thoughts

A harness is the right choice for your dog because it prevents injuries and health conditions, it calms your dog, it helps to get rid of bad behavior, and greatly enhances your dog’s safety. The benefits greatly outweigh any disadvantage. With that in mind, it is worth considering to slowly train your dog to wearing one, and do something good for its health.


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