28th July 2021
A dog harness gives you more control over your pet than a traditional collar, also reducing strain on the animal's neck. In our expert guide, we round up the best dog harnesses worth taking a look at, whatever your budget.
To help you pick the perfect dog harness for your pet, we've tried out some of the most popular options on our own dogs. We've also teamed up with the Blue Cross animal centre to offer some advice on how to fit a dog harness, so check our video for some top tips.
To help us try out dog harnesses from some of the biggest pet brands around, we've enlisted a trio of tail-wagging testers.
With some help from Daisy, Milo and Toby, we've been able to put a range of dog harnesses through their paces. For each model below, we've paid close attention to ease of fitting, durability and comfort.
We've put 11 harnesses through their paces from big-name brands, including Julius-K9, Perfect Fit, The Company of Animals and PetSafe.
Dogs owners scored our top-pick dog harnesses highly in the following categories: ease of fitting; accuracy of fit; comfort for the dog; ease of taking off the dog; and durability.
Ancol's dog harness supports the chest, shoulders and neck. The harness comes with reflective stitching which gives you added visibility on an evening walk.
If you're after a cheap dog harness that won't fall apart after a couple of walks, the Bunty is worth a look.
This harness is made from a soft mesh material and fastens with a single buckle.
A Velcro pad on each side of the harness says 'Julius K9' out of the box but you can request personalised ones that have a custom message or even a Union Jack on them.
The Mikki WalkRite features a reflective collar. Your dog has to 'walk' into this harness for you to start fitting it.
A modular design means the Perfect Fit harness can be resized. A fleece lining aims to prevent rubbing on your dog's joints.
This PetSafe harness comes bundled with an extensive instruction booklet that tells you how to get the right fit.
This back clip harness aims to reduce the strain on your pet's neck if they tend to pull on a walk. It's available in a range of vibrant colours.
The Halti harness is designed as a training tool. It comes with two harness attachment points – one by the dog's chest and another on its back.
A security lock on this non-pull harness prevents over-tightening. It features a chest mesh design.
To fit this harness, you slide it over your dog's head and attach the belly straps The Trixie has some fleece padding on the inside of the straps
Prices above correct as of March 2021. Taken from manufacturer website where available.
Every dog is different, which is why choosing the right style of harness is the key to keeping your pooch happy.
If your dog doesn't have thick fur, for instance, a well-padded harness will help keep them comfortable. If they love burrowing in the undergrowth, then a harness with a mesh design is likely to get caught up in thorns and twigs.
This is the most common type of dog harness. As the name suggests, you attach your lead to a hook that's positioned above your dog's back.
Unlike a traditional dog collar, a back clip harness won't place any pressure on your pet's neck if you need to pull back on the lead. If you own a dog with a sensitive trachea, using a back clip harness won't cause any discomfort, provided the front straps sit at the dog's chest rather than at the neck.
A back clip harness can also be an effective option if your dog has a habit of wiggling out of her or his collar.
Be warned, though – if your dog suddenly pulls on a back clip harness, you'll be pulled along thanks to the 'sled dog effect'.
This type of harness isn't designed to improve the behaviour of a rebellious dog that pulls on walks – front clip harnesses, combined with the right training, are better-suited for that (see below).
The lead attachment on a front clip harness is found at the dog's chest. This type of harness is popular with trainers because, paired with the right teaching methods, it can help to lessen a dog's desire to pull.
If you pull back on the lead on a walk, the position of the front clip will cause the dog to turn their head towards you. This is useful if you want to distract your four-legged friend from something scary or steer them in a certain direction to avoid a hazard.
Depending on your dog's personality and walking style, you may find their legs get tangled with your lead because of the clip position on the dog's chest. If that's the case, you may need to use a shorter lead.
These no-pull harnesses are a somewhat controversial choice, as they're designed to cause discomfort to force dogs to calm down.
We caught up with Wood Green The Animals Charity, who told us: 'Non-pull harnesses put pressure under the dog's armpits and they stop pulling because it's uncomfortable. We would advise owners to be careful and to ensure the fit is appropriate.
'On some [non-pull harnesses], the belly strap sits beyond the rib cage and this would be uncomfortable on the dog's soft tummy.'
Shopping for a harness suitable for a puppy can be quite a process, as you'll want something that's both light and secure. The best options we've seen are made of material that can easily adjust to the shape of your dog, but won't weigh down the puppy with chunky plastic clasps and straps.
It's important that the harness you pick doesn't restrict the dog's movement, but it needs to be secure enough to stop your puppy wiggling out of it.
If you want to cut out pulling from a young age, picking the right harness to partner with effective training methods can have a noticeable effect. Remember to make sure the design of the harness doesn't tighten too much if the dog resists on a walk.
Online research can go a long way. Wood Green The Animals Charity says that Facebook groups can be a handy source of information – find a group made up of owners of your dog's breed and you'll be able to share advice.
Dog harnesses come in all shapes and sizes and you’ll have no trouble finding a harness online, whatever breed you own. Most of the websites we’ve seen provide size charts that help you measure your pooch before you buy.
But before you part with your money, make sure you check the retailer’s returns policy. In the event you try the harness on your dog and it doesn’t fit perfectly, you’ll probably want to get a refund for the product or swap it out for a different size.
Popular online retailers that stock dog harnesses include:
If you're buying online, you need to know your dog's measurements. Specialist online stores usually have a guide on where to measure your dog and how to apply those measurements to the harnesses they stock. If in doubt, get in touch with them and ask.
When you buy goods online, you have the right under the Consumer Contracts Regulations to cancel these at any time from the point you buy the goods and up to 14 days after. To cancel, notify the retailer within this period. After that's taken care of, you have a further 14 days to return your goods for a full refund.
You must cover the cost of returning an unwanted harness, unless the retailer says it will cover these costs. Just in case the retailer disputes you've returned your goods, we recommend you get proof of postage or send via recorded delivery. The retailer is allowed to make a deduction from your refund if the value of the goods has been reduced as a result of you handling the goods more than was necessary.
It's best not to take your dog on a proper walk to see if it fits. Even if it's a dry day and your dog's usually well behaved, you can guarantee that's the day it decides to roll in something it shouldn't. Instead, try it out indoors or in a dry garden.
Anecdotally, we've found pet shops that will let you take your dog inside for a quick fitting, but remember to ask before you go in. Check if you can try the harnesses on your dog in-store, to help you get the best fit for your dog's size and breed.
However, if your dog's never worn a harness and is a bit nervous, trying one on for the first time in a busy, unfamiliar environment isn't likely to end well.
You can buy a harness to try on at home, but the store doesn't have to let you return it simply because it doesn't fit. Check its returns policy before you buy.
If the harness is faulty, you're entitled to a refund. The harness should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If it's not, you have the right to get a full refund from the retailer within 30 days.
The Consumer Rights Act also entitles you to a repair or replacement if the harness develops a fault after the first 30 days and within the first six months.
We teamed up with the Blue Cross to put together a video to help you fit a dog harness. From how to train your dog to get used to a harness, from what a good fit looks like, our video's got you covered.
Many thanks to the Blue Cross dog behaviourist, Ryan Neile, and his lovely border collie, Tok.
Loosen all the straps so you can easily place the harness on your dog for the first fitting.
It's important to make sure your dog is comfortable with wearing a harness. If you're dealing with a harness that makes a loud clicking noise, teach your dog to associate that sound with a treat.
Try fastening the clasps close to the dog's ears (while the harness is off of the dog) and then reward your pet.
Depending on the harness you're using, your dog may need to pass its head through a loop.
If that's the case, a tasty treat can help you both through the process.
Put a treat in your hand and pass your hand through the hole where your dog's head will go.
Repeat this process a couple of times, each time moving the loop hole closer to your dog's head.
Once you've built up that positive association, you can have the dog pass its head entirely through the hole.
Now that your dog is familiar with the harness, you're in a better position to attach it fully.
When fitting the harness, make sure there's enough room under each of the straps for you to fit two fingers.
If you make the harness too tight, the straps will rub against the dog's joints and cause problems.
Pine Ridge Dog Sanctuary recommends taking your dog to a pet shop if you're unsure your harness is correctly fastened.
After all, you don't want your dog escaping from a loose harness.