If you’re a dog owner, you may have considered using a harness instead of a collar for your pet. While harnesses can be a great tool for training and walking your dog, they can also be harmful if not used correctly. In fact, some harnesses can actually be bad for your dog’s health.
One of the biggest concerns with dog harnesses is the pressure they place on your dog’s body. A poorly fitting harness can cause discomfort and even injury, particularly if it rubs against your dog’s skin or puts pressure on their neck or spine. Additionally, some harnesses can restrict your dog’s movement, making it difficult for them to walk or run comfortably.
While harnesses can be a useful tool for training your dog, it’s important to choose the right one and use it correctly. Make sure the harness fits your dog properly and doesn’t rub or chafe their skin. Always use a leash with your harness, and avoid using a retractable leash, which can make it difficult to control your dog. By taking these steps, you can help keep your pet safe and healthy while using a harness.
Table of Contents
- Why Harnesses Can Be Bad for Dogs
- Choosing the Right Harness
- Well-Fitting Harnesses
- No-Pull Harnesses
- Other Harness Types
- How do harnesses impact the happiness of dogs?
- Why are harnesses bad for dogs?
- Why do dogs need exercise and exploration off-harness?
- Are all harnesses bad?
- Why do improper harnesses impact dogs so negatively?
- Should you use a harness on your dog?
- Which breeds are prone to BOAS?
- Should I use a leash on my dog if they belong to a breed prone to BOAS?
- How can I tell if I should use a harness on my dog?
- Should I use any harness on my dog if they have breathing issues?
- Why are the throat attachments in front-clip harnesses so detrimental for dogs?
- Which other dog breeds are negatively impacted by dog harnesses?
- When should harnesses be removed after use?
Why Harnesses Can Be Bad for Dogs
Discomfort and Injury
When it comes to choosing a harness for your dog, it is important to consider the type of harness you are using. While a no-pull harness may seem like a good idea, it can actually encourage your dog’s pulling habit. On the other hand, a traditional collar can put pressure on your dog’s neck, leading to injury. But even the wrong type of harness can cause discomfort and injury. For example, a front clip harness can put pressure on your dog’s chest, causing discomfort and even injury.
Wet Harnesses and Chafing
Another issue to consider is wet harnesses. If your dog’s harness gets wet, it can cause skin irritation and chafing. This is especially true for dogs with sensitive skin, such as brachycephalic breeds or those with tracheal collapse. Additionally, if the harness is too tight, it can irritate your dog’s skin and cause discomfort.
Slipping Out of Harnesses
Finally, there is the issue of slipping out of harnesses. If your dog’s harness is not properly fitted, it can slip off, leaving your dog without identification tags and at risk of getting lost. This is especially true for small breeds, which can easily slip out of a poorly fitted harness or halter.
In conclusion, while harnesses can be a great tool for walking your dog, it is important to choose the right type of harness for your dog’s breed and size, as well as ensuring it is properly fitted. Be mindful of discomfort and injury, wet harnesses and chafing, and the risk of slipping out of harnesses. By taking these factors into consideration, you can ensure a safe and comfortable walking experience for both you and your pet.
Choosing the Right Harness
When it comes to choosing the right harness for your dog, there are a few things to consider. The harness should fit well, be comfortable for your dog to wear, and allow for natural shoulder movement and posture.
A well-fitting harness is essential to prevent discomfort and injury to your dog. A harness that is too tight can cause skin irritation, while a harness that is too loose can cause the dog to slip out of it. Measure your dog’s girth and neck size to ensure a proper fit.
No-pull harnesses are designed to discourage pulling behavior. They work by applying pressure to the dog’s chest when they pull, which can help redirect their attention and discourage pulling. These harnesses are a good option for dogs that tend to pull on the leash.
Other Harness Types
There are many other types of harnesses available, including head halters, muzzle harnesses, and back-clip harnesses. Head halters can be useful for dogs that are difficult to control, but they require acclimation and training. Muzzle harnesses can be used for dogs that are aggressive or prone to biting. Back-clip harnesses are not recommended for dogs that pull, as they can encourage pulling behavior.
In summary, choosing the right harness for your dog is important for their safety and comfort. Consider the type of harness that will work best for your dog’s needs, and ensure a proper fit to prevent discomfort and injury.
How do harnesses impact the happiness of dogs?
Dogs have been our companions through the ages, using their great strength and stamina to help many historical figures. For example, George Washington was a keen dog-lover, exercising impeccable animal husbandry skills in the raising of his hunting hounds at his Mount Vernon estate. He knew the importance of letting dogs do what they do best: exploring. Incidentally, this is what is most negatively impacted by extended use of improper dog harnesses.
Why are harnesses bad for dogs?
An improperly fitted or designed harness is dangerous. The activity of walking a dog includes a lot of pulling on the leash, which can cause dangerous pressure on the back, shoulders and withers of your fluffy friend. Not only does this particularly pose a risk to dog breeds more prone to ligament damage, any extended pulling on the leash is likely to act as a Pavlovian stimulus, wherein pulling on the leash is correlated with pain in the dog. This can exacerbate pre-existing stress, meaning that barking is a more likely occurrence.
Why do dogs need exercise and exploration off-harness?
All dogs need the opportunity to exercise and explore their surroundings. Some dogs need this freedom far more than others; a German shepherd would lament being stuck close to their owner during a walk more than potentially a King Charles Spaniel would. Some dogs simply need the freedom to go wherever they’d like for a while more than their less exercise-focused counterparts.
This doesn’t mean that the less energetic dogs benefit from walking on-harness however- it means that they’d be less likely to protest, but this is no indicator of benefit. No matter whether you use collars or a harness while exercising your dog, you should always allow your pet the freedom to explore off-leash every once in a while.
Are all harnesses bad?
No. A properly-fitted harness can actually be a beneficial companion in specific situations. For example, in the case of walking a dog with idiopathic ocular issues, care should be taken to use a harness instead of a collar to avoid the increase in intraocular pressure caused by collars.
Why do improper harnesses impact dogs so negatively?
The neck of a dog is a delicate region that is particularly implicated in the causation and exacerbation of ocular issues. Furthermore, in asthmatic or obese dogs, harnesses can also be utilized to lessen the load on the dog’s epiglottis, which can make it much harder for the dog to breathe.
Should you use a harness on your dog?
If your dog suffers from obesity issues, asthma or is of a breed prone to breathing issues such as BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome), which is common in breeds created through selective breeding to have a flat face – then the answer is yes, you can. It is a safer option than using a collar with a leash in that situation, assuming the harness is properly fitted. These dog breeds are referred to as brachycephalic breeds.
Which breeds are prone to BOAS?
Examples of brachycephalic breeds include the following:
- English and French bulldogs.
Other breeds prone to BOAS, but to a lesser extent include:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
The two breeds listed above are technically not considered brachycephalic breeds due to a statistically lower incidence of BOAS within the breed.
Should I use a leash on my dog if they belong to a breed prone to BOAS?
The brachycephalic breeds of dog always benefit from the use of properly positioned harnesses. However, the use of a harness isn’t always the best option for breeds less prone to BOAS. In fact, there are various reasons why harness use would be contraindicated in breeds likely to suffer from BOAS.
How can I tell if I should use a harness on my dog?
The best way to tell whether your dog would benefit from the use of a harness is to check their breathing at rest. If their breathing seems labored or heavy, then they likely would benefit from the use of a harness instead of a collar while walking.
Should I use any harness on my dog if they have breathing issues?
No. One of the most detrimental costs of harness use is that many modern pet harnesses are unsuited and unsafe for the pets they were designed for. This is the case with the front-clip dog harness, where the dog is restrained with an area of harness around the throat.
Why are the throat attachments in front-clip harnesses so detrimental for dogs?
This attachment means that there is a heightened risk of choking when the dog pulls on the leash. This would be of a great risk to brachycephalic breeds, wherein breathing is often negatively impacted.
Which other dog breeds are negatively impacted by dog harnesses?
Breeds with long, bushy coats can be badly affected by wet harnesses. This is because the increased moisture can cause matting in the coats of these dogs. This is particularly implicated if the dog wears the harness for an extended period of time in a wet environment, such as during rainfall or when walking through marshland.
When should harnesses be removed after use?
Harnesses should be removed as soon as your dog is back inside to reduce the risk of matting. In dogs with longer coats, harnesses should be avoided entirely. An exception to this rule is when the dog also has BOAS; for example, many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have long coats but also suffer from BOAS. A harness can be used in this circumstance.
My name is Danny Jackson and I’m the CEO and Chief Editor behind Petloverguy.com. After spending a decade working with vets and private clients as an animal behavioral and nutritional specialist I co-founded Pet Lover Guy to help other pet parents learn how to interact with, and make the most of the time that they spend with their adopted and rescued best pet friends.
Working with Ella, our chihuahua rescue, we seek to help all dog and cat lovers have the happiest life possible.