How to Attach a Dog Harness (No Hair Loss & Perfect Fit)

Have you decided to try a harness with your dog, but you aren’t sure how to best fit tighten and attach it? While it’s an easy task, there are a few tricks to getting it just right.

How to Attach a Dog Harness

1. Put on the Harness Before You Tighten.

Never tighten a harness before putting it on your dog. Loosen all adjustable points on the body area.

2. Slip the harness over your dog’s head.

Begin by slipping the neck area of the harness over your dog’s head, then fit the lower strap around their midsection. Connect the closures and tighten any adjustable areas until they are comfortable for your pet while also remaining secure.

3. Adjust the chest strap first.

Adjust the area around your dog’s chest first, then adjust the belly strap. This will provide the best fit.

4. Use the 2 finger rule.

Be sure that you can fit two fingers between the harness material and the dog’s body at any one point on the harness. Doing this will keep it from being tightened too far.

5. Do a test walk.

Walk your dog around the house or within a fenced area before taking them out in the open. If your pet tends to slip free of their harness, it’s important to be certain they can’t get out of it accidentally.

6. Watch for hair loss or irritation.

Even when you feel you’ve adjusted properly, keep a close eye on your dog for irritation or hair loss where the harness touches them. Either can mean the harness is too tight or that you have the wrong type of harness for your dog. All dogs are different and you’ll need to experiment to find the right harness that doesn’t chafe the skin and cause hair loss. Start by adjusting the straps though as that’s always the cheapest and easiest answer.

How to Choose the Right Style of Harness for Your Dog

There are several harnesses to choose from, no matter your and your pet’s needs. Whether your dog needs an anti-pull harness, requires one for medical issues, or simply likes the look of a harness better, you can find the perfect option with a little looking.

What Types of Pet Harnesses Are out There?

  • Back clip – These are made for calm pets that are trained to not pull at their leash.
  • Front clip (Training) Harness – This type of harness provides you with better control and the ability to redirect your pet.
  • No-pull Harness – These harnesses help to cut down on pulling at the leash. Some varieties tighten around the chest, some around both chest and front legs.
  • Vest Harness – This type tends to be thicker and wider than other varieties. Some have to be stepped into by your dog, while others will slip over their head.
  • Step in or Comfort Harness – These harnesses are designed so that your dog can easily step into the harness, closing on the back. They are appropriate for senior or disabled pets.

Measuring Your Dog for a Harness

Your dog’s harness size can be determined by the measurement around their chest, ribs, and neck. If your pet falls between two size categories when you measure, add two inches and choose a harness in that size.

Can Any Dog Wear a Harness?

Yes, virtually any dog can wear a harness unless your pet has specific medical or age-related issues that might prevent it. No matter your pet’s size, big or small, you should be able to find a harness to fit their shape as well as your own needs.

While it might take some trial and error for dogs that are at one end or the other of the size spectrum, it is possible to find safe and secure harnesses for all body types. You can even find tutorials on making your own dog harness if you feel that your pet would be safer and more secure in one made specifically for them.

Why Your Pet Might Need a Harness Instead of a Collar

If your dog tends to pull or jump while you’re on a walk, you might consider a harness to better keep them safe, as they are more difficult to slip out of than a collar. Also, dogs that have medical conditions related to their throats or have experienced neck injuries often fare better with a harness, which doesn’t put pressure on the area.

How to Use a Dog Harness

Similar to a collar, you can attach any necessary tags and leave a pet harness on your dog all the time, as long as they are fully grown. When it comes to puppies and dogs that are still growing, however, it’s important to remove a harness between walks to ensure your pet’s safety.

Signs of a Well-Fitting Harness

It is essential to be sure that your dog’s harness fits correctly. There are some signs to look out for that will show you that your dog is happy with the fit and function.

  • Even dogs that tend to escape can’t wiggle loose.
  • The harness doesn’t rotate or shift around.
  • Your dog is excited about walks and doesn’t resist going out with the harness.


Are harnesses good for dogs?

Harnesses are as comfortable as collars for many dogs. However, if your dog is of a long-haired breed, keep an eye on them to be certain their hair doesn’t get caught in the harness.

What type of harness is best for my dog?

This depends on the size of your dog, as well as its activity level. You may also need to decide between different harness varieties to cater to your dog’s age or escape tendencies.

Are harnesses good for a dog that pulls?

A harness is ideal for pets that try to pull when on a walk because it offers more control for you and causes less pressure against your pet’s neck. Anti-pull harnesses are excellent for dogs that have a habit of pulling, and they can help to train your pet to go on walks more calmly.

The Five Secrets About Tightening a Dog Harness That Only A Handful Of People Know