Is a Harness Good for Walking a Dog? (Solved & Explained!)

A harness is great for walking a dog and preferred over the antiquated ‘leash and collar’ method. As we all know, our furry friends often get excited and try to pull us in the direction that they want to go. With a collar, that means a sudden, quick tension is going to be absorbed in the neck.

With a harness, this force is instead spread across the shoulders or with a no-pull harness, across the chest. This is much safer for your dog, making the harness the preferred medium for a safe walk outside.

For the remainder of this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about dog harnesses. Read on to find out how dogs can sometimes escape them, how to find the RIGHT size, and more – important answers are waiting in the sections below!

Why you shouldn’t use a dog harness?

While a dog harness is perfect for walking, it needs to be used properly or it can actually become bad for your dog. Only put the harness on for walking and be sure to take it off immediately when you get back.

While a harness takes away pressure from your dog’s neck, it also puts pressure on their shoulder muscles – so leaving it on can cause problems in the long run, starting with shoulder aches and eventually soft tissue damage or joint problems.

Don’t worry – with a little practice you can put it on and take it off of your dog very quickly and that will be safe, just don’t leave the harness on all day!

Is it better to walk your dog on a leash or harness?

A harness is definitely better when it comes to walking your dog. Using a leash and a collar not only gives you less control, but when your dog sees something interesting and pulls then the pressure goes straight to their neck.

With a harness, it will distribute across their back, and there are also front clip models that move the force to their chest. So, get a collar, but use it for tags – a harness is the safest way to walk your dog!

Should a dog always wear a harness?

No, a dog should not always wear a harness. While people will tell you that a well-fit harness is harmless for all-day wear, it is still going to slowly rub at your dog’s coat and there is also the matter of their shoulders.

A harness puts pressure on them, even if it’s well-padded, and over time this can lead to joint issues, soft tissue damage, and achy, stiff shoulders at the very least. Put it on for walks and take it off when you get home – period.

Are harnesses bad for dogs shoulders?

Yes, if the harness is left on too long, then it will impact specific sets of muscles in your dogs’ shoulders. The supraspinatus, biceps, and brachiocephalicus muscles are all under pressure when the harness is being used.

This is okay in small doses, much like when you carry something by putting it on your shoulders, but if the harness is not taken off between walks and left in place all day, then you have a recipe for aches or even soft tissue damage!

So, use the harness, but practice moderation – it has an impact, even if you don’t see it right away.

Can dogs get out of harness?

Dogs can and do occasionally slip their harnesses. The most common way that they accomplish this is simply slipping their shoulders out of it, when the harness is too loose, or by backing out of it.

You can minimize this behavior by keeping treats handy and using the ‘sit’ command whenever you catch your dog trying to weasel out of their harness. Tell your dog ‘no’, followed by ‘sit’, and when they comply, then give them a treat and proceed with the walk.

They’ll get to the harness over time, you’ll just need to be patient with the process.

Should my dog wear a collar or harness?

Actually, it is best that they wear both. The harness will be worn on a ‘part-time’ basis, specifically you should only put it on for walks and then immediately take it off when you get back home with your dog. The collar can be worn 24 -7 or you can take it off at night to give your dog’s skin a little breathing time.

The collar is perfect for tags and registration, so that if your dog ever ends up alone then whoever finds them can contact you and they will know that your dog is healthy and not a risk for rabies if they bite anyone because they’re frightened!

Can dogs sleep in a harness?

A well-fitting harness shouldn’t harm your dog overmuch if they sleep with it once or twice in a week. That said, we really don’t recommend it. The harness puts pressure on your dog’s shoulder muscles and this is a cumulative thing if you habitually leave the harness in place.

Your dog will end up with stiff, possibly achy shoulders at first and this can quickly become worse. It’s best to avoid this and take the extra time to remove that harness before your dog takes their daily nap.

Does a harness encourage pulling?

A standard harness with a clip on the dog’s back can encourage pulling, although this is something that you will quickly adjust to. If you want to minimize this or have a particularly strong dog, then consider a harness with a front-clip.

This moves the pull to their chest when you tug the leash and it’s less jarring than when your dog tugs with a back-clip harness.

What does a no pull harness do?

For dogs that like to walk YOU when they are wearing a harness, the ‘No Pull’ harness is a way that you can turn the tables and take back control. A ‘no pull’ harness simply moves the back-clip which comes with a standard harness to the front of the chest on your dog.

This makes it much harder for them to exploit the harness and pull you around on walks, making these a great option for larger dogs that simply get overexcited whenever they are exploring outside.

What size harness do I need for my dog?

Harnesses will typically come in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes, but the important thing that you need to do is to measure your dog’s girth before you select one. For instance, if your dog’s widest girth is around 30 inches, then look for harnesses that support this girth and THEN consider the size ratings.

That way, you know that the material will be thick enough for a dog of that size AND of that specific girth.