Collars and harnesses need to fit tightly but never so tight that any discomfort arises. 'Tight' is actually misleading as there must never be any extreme pressure regardless of whether the dog pulls or not.
We'll be taking you through a look at how tight your dog's harness should be, while also discussing harness types and which is best for your pet.
Dog Harness Fitment Guidelines
The general rule that makes fitting a dog harness easy is the two-finger rule. Incidentally, the same policy applies to the space between a dog's collar and its neck.
Tighten the straps of your dog's harness until you can fit your index finger and middle finger in when held together on their side. Make sure that the gap ranges between two and four inches.
How Tight is Too Tight for a Harness?
First, a harness should never be tight. It must always fit snugly but with a little room. Harnesses and collars must be comfortable at all times.
Any discomfort, and you've got the wrong size or adjustment. The exact spacing between the straps of the harness and your dog's body depends on the size of the breed. Leave a wider gap for larger dogs and closer to two inches for small breeds.
Which Type of Harness Suits My Breed?
There are many different styles available, but ultimately, the type of harness for your dog is determined by where the clip lies and what habits they learned. Breed size also plays a role.
Here's a look at what you can expect to find when shopping for a new dog harness.
A front-clip harness is the optimal type for dogs that pull. This is typically medium- to large-sized breeds. The leash attaches to the front, which leverages the tension to guide your dog toward you rather than allowing them to move forward.
The only downside to front-clip harnesses is that they're more likely to tangle, especially if your dog isn't yet well-trained.
A back-clip harness is the most common type that you'll find. It is the best style of harness for small dogs and those with very delicate necks. With the leash attached as far back as possible, there is no risk of pressure on the trachea.
Dual-clip harnesses are handy for giving you optimal control, but they're not the best for extended periods of time.
They're a great option for those who are shopping for a training harness only, and those who want something that helps bring pulling under control. If you're opting for a dual-clip harness, make sure that you look for a design with extra padding and comfort features.
A head halter harness is the best style for dogs with very thin heads. You'll find that this is ideal for Greyhounds and Whippets, and highly preferable to a collar in most cases.
Almost all dogs will need a period of adjustment when wearing a head halter. Don't put it on and expect them to be comfortable, rather fit it for short periods of time until they're accustomed to having something over their face.
Dog Harness vs. Dog Collar
A collar will be preferred by most dogs once they've learned to walk with the help of a leash. Use a dog harness to develop good social habits without any risk to your dog or other animals and humans.
It is very important to remember that one of the biggest benefits to using a dog harness is just how much pressure is alleviated from the neck. This is a major help to dogs with delicate necks and breeds like pugs where the eyes are under immense risk of harm from any neck pressure.
Without a harness, pressure normally causes the eyes to protrude, showing that the dog is taking strain.
If your dog suffers any form of a neck injury or needs to refrain from jumping to assist any healing that may be happening, then go for a harness.
Energetic breeds do far better when training with a harness rather than a collar — there's no straining their neck due to something as natural as getting excited.
Essential to Young Dogs and Very Versatile
Don't underestimate just how useful a dog harness is for a growing puppy. It not only keeps them under your guidance, but the mechanism also helps guide focus. That's exactly what you need when training a young dog.
Always go for a step-in harness as they're the most comfortable, and the easiest to fit. There's barely a dog who'll have any hassle with simply stepping through with each of their legs. It feels far less restraining and obscure than other types.