The step-in harness is the most popular, safest, and most comfortable type of dog harness available. Step-In harnesses are found with a range of different clip styles but which is best depends on your dog.
We'll be taking you through a look at what makes step-in harnesses the safest, while also showing you what you need to know to select the best harness for your puppy or grown dog.
What is a Step-In Harness?
Step-in harnesses refer to the way that the harness is put on, not the clip type. Front and back attachments are possible, at times even dual clips, but a step-in harness always works in the same way.
All you need to do to fit a step-in harness is to put your dog’s two front legs between two loops. There is no sleeve fitting over your dog's head. No straps. Once your dog has stepped into the correct position, thus wearing the harness, a clip or buckle secures the harness in one or more places.
How Does A Step-In Harnesses Work
These harnesses work by providing a safe design whereby the pressure of restraint is dispersed evenly across the back and chest. This leaves no risk of compressing the neck and trachea.
Even pressure distribution also ensures a fitment that will never harm the skin and fur of your pet. There's also no scaring your pet while trying to put something over their head in an unnatural manner.
The Perfect Harness for a Puppy
There is no more comfortable way for dog and owner to come to grips with learning the control that's necessary for a happy walk, especially in the early stages.
There's no pulling with a harness, but at the same time, your dog doesn't experience any discomfort. Instead, they're allowed to adjust to being in public on a leash at their own pace with no risk to themselves or others.
A step-in harness reduces pressure on the neck, which in turn reduces pressure on the eyes. This makes it the ideal option for Pugs, and any dogs with eye issues like glaucoma.
The only time that a step-in harness may not give the optimal degree of control is if your dog is extremely aggressive, or if it has physical strength that exceeds your ability to hold it at bay. Head halters give more control, so they should be considered by anyone with a difficult dog and those lacking the strength to handle their pet.
Fitting a Step-In Harness
It's very easy to put on a step-in harness. Unbuckle the harness and lay it before you on the ground. Guide each of your dog's legs through each loop, making sure that the clip or buckle is facing the correct direction.
Gently pull the straps to secure the clasp without making it too tight. The best way to guarantee a comfortable, safe fit is to use the two-finger rule. You should always be able to slide in your index and middle finger held together between the harness and the body of your dog.
You're looking for between two and four inches of space, depending on how large your dog is.
Key Features of a Good Step-In Harness
There are lots of different high-quality harnesses to choose from, but once you know the key defining qualities of a good harness, shopping will be much easier.
It's best to keep in mind that a harness is something that's going to be used a lot, so quality really counts. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for:
- Weather-resistant, washable straps
- Soft feel for smoothest touch to your dog's fur
- Multiple-point locking mechanism
- Comfort technologies like integrated memory foam
Don't forget that you'll need to readjust your step-in harness after a few walks. The straps will inadvertently shift; just don't make the mistake of readjusting in a hurry, or you may leave the harness too tight. As always, apply the two-finger rule when checking the fitment.
The Best Harness for Your Dog
There are lots of other harness designs, but none carry the same safety, comfort, and ease of use of a good step-in harness. You can put it on within minutes. There's no chance of discomfort, and your pet won't feel restricted in the same way as being untrained and wearing a collar.
Every owner should have at least one good step-in harness for their dog, even if they're used to walking on a leash and collar. It's extremely handy in the case of emergencies, family gatherings, unexpected visitors, and long walks.