How to Put on A Dog Harness

For taking dogs outside, harnesses are definitely better than collars. But, putting them on is much more challenging. In fact, it is often confusing or even frustrating, especially if you have a dog that won’t keep still. Thankfully, it gets easier after a few successful tries.

Learning how to put on a dog harness first starts with figuring out what kind you have. The best dog harness for your pup depends on their build, size, and temperament. Generally, there are three to choose from: (1) the Standard, (2) the Step-In, and (3) the Front-Clip.

1. Standard Dog Harness

The standard type suits most breeds because it divides the pulling pressure between the chest and the torso.

Putting it on starts with holding it up to figure out which part goes across the chest, and which goes around the body. Then, slip the chest portion over your dog’s head and position the D-ring between their shoulders. Then, loop the remaining strap around their body and buckle it up. Adjust the straps so it fits just right and you’re ready to go!

The dachshund harness is a specialized version of the standard harness, only because they are longer or have an additional loop around the torso. Nevertheless, you put them on the same way.

A bull terrier wearing a standard dog harness

A bull terrier wearing a standard dog harness. Photo by Martijn Gons. (CC0)

2. Step-In Dog Harness

The step-in harness also suits a wide variety of breeds. But since most of the support it provides goes across the front, it is generally the best choice for wide-chested breeds.

In fact, this type makes for the best Frenchie harness and pug harness, especially when it’s padded and has an interior lining made of mesh. And, it’s pretty easy to put on. All you need to do is remember that this is meant to form a Y or a T shape across your dog’s chest.

Find the Y or T shape and lay it on the floor in front of you. If you see the two triangles where your pup’s legs should go through, you’re doing it right.

Get your dog to “step in” both his feet into those triangles. Then, pick up the two ends of the harness, pull it up against your dog’s chest, and buckle it around the back. Make adjustments for the perfect fit.

3. Front-Clip Dog Harness

The front-clip type is meant for heavy pullers. In fact, it is the best pitbull harness, and it is also an excellent choice for highly energetic, working breeds.

Many front-clip harnesses are designed just like standard or step-in types. However, some specialized ones go around the chest and are secured with a strap that loops around the ribs and shoulders.

To put on specialized front-clip dog harnesses, face your dog while they are standing or sitting. Hold the harness up and place the D-ring at the center of your dog’s chest. Loop the shorter strap around their neck and then secure the other strap around their torso. Adjust the straps so that both parts are snug, but not too tight.

A large dog wearing a specialized front-clip dog harness. Photo by xiquinhosilva. (CC BY 2.0)

Some harnesses are more difficult to put on than others. Don't get frustrated if you don't get it right the first time. Go through it one step at a time, and you'll surely get the hang it soon enough.

But if you're ever tempted to stick with a collar just because they're much easier to put on, make sure you choose the right one for the safety and comfort of your pup.

***If you're looking to introduce your pup to a new harness, we've got you covered!***

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