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Dog Harnesses - A Necessity For Every Dog

Updated on November 26, 2012

Dog Harnesses - A Necessity for Training and Walking Your Dog Safely

A harnesses is a necessity if you are a dog owner, especially if you own a small dog. Growing up, I always had large dogs and they were always walked with a traditional collar and leash, so when I went out to buy my dog a collar, a dog harness wasn't even a thought. Needless to say, it was news to me when I found out that walking a dog, especially a small dog, with a traditional collar can be dangerous to its health.

Not only can it be dangerous to use a traditional dog collar, but it can also make training your dog more difficult. To many pet owners, myself included, your pets are like part of your family. As part of the family, your dog's health and well-being should be a major concern. If you are not currently using a harness to walk your dog, you should look into it, and make the switch. Dog harnesses can be purchased just about anywhere you can buy a dog collar, and they typically aren't that much more expensive than a collar. Go ahead and make the change...Your dog will thank you, and you will wonder why you didn't make the switch sooner.

Photo is my own personal image of my dog Midnight.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Step In Dog Harness

Empire Tracks Adjustable Nylon Harness, Step In Dog Harness by Kakadu Pet, Small, 1/2" x 13-21", Marine (Blue with White Stitch)
Empire Tracks Adjustable Nylon Harness, Step In Dog Harness by Kakadu Pet, Small, 1/2" x 13-21", Marine (Blue with White Stitch)

I have two small dogs and have tried a few different styles of harnesses, and I have found that the step in type of harness seems to work best. You don't have to try to fit something over your dogs head...you just slide it over their two front legs. It wraps around the body and snaps easily at the dogs back. I have not had my dog slip out of this type of harness and it seems to be comfortable for my dog Gator.

 

Do You Currently Walk Your Dog With a Harness?

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NCAA Dog Harnesses

NCAA University of Georgia Bulldogs Dog Harness Large
NCAA University of Georgia Bulldogs Dog Harness Large

If you are a college sports fan, why not have your dog show their support for your favorite team too? One of my dogs is named for my favorite college sports team (the Gators), so I would definitely like him to show his support too. If only they had a Gators harness, but they do have several teams to choose from including the Georgia Bulldogs, shown here.

 

It is Safer to Walk Your Dog With a Harness

Midnight and Gator in Dog Harnesses
Midnight and Gator in Dog Harnesses

Photo Credit: My own personal image of Gator and Midnight pictured in a step in harness and over-the-head harness.

When I first got my dog Midnight, many times when I would walk him with a traditional collar and leash I noticed that he would cough and almost sound like he was choking. Let me first point out that Midnight's idea of walking is pulling to see how quickly he can get to where he thinks he is going. After having Midnight for a few months I found out from someone who owned a small dog why Midnight was having this problem while walking.

When you walk your dog with a traditional collar, the collar is putting pressure on your dogs neck and throat. This is not only uncomfortable for the dog and can make it hard for it to breathe, but it can also cause damage to the dogs trachea and/or neck. By switching to a harness the pressure is moved away from the neck and distributed more evenly throughout the dogs body. Small dogs are going to be more sensitive in the neck area because they are so much smaller and more delicate, but that doesn't mean that all dogs can't benefit from a harness.

Some dogs are also extremely crafty and like to try and slip out of their collars. Now don't get me wrong, it is still possible for a dog to slip out of its harness,depending on the type of harness, Midnight is my proof of that, but it much more difficult to do as long as you have purchased a harness that fits correctly and is put on correctly.

Nylon Dog Harnesses

I use nylon dog harnesses for both of my dogs. One is 10 lbs. and the other is just under 14 lbs. There are no sharp pieces and the harnesses do not seem to irritate their skin or cause problems with their hair at all. Since Midnight is not the most calm of walkers it can be difficult to walk both dogs together, but the harnesses are definitely a big help and no more choking.

Photo Credit: Easy Walk Harness on Amazon

When you walk a dog with a traditional collar you have very little control over the dog due to the fact that the leash is attached at the dogs neck. This might be okay if you have a dog that just likes to take a leisurely stroll. For those who have dogs that like to pull or that are aggressive or get excited by people, other dogs, cars, etc., then having very little control could pose a problem.

By walking your dog with a harness and leash, you will now have more control over the dogs actions due to the fact that the harness is attached and located more centrally on the dog. I am not trying to tell you that switching to a harness will fix all of your problems when walking your dog. You do of course have to put in the effort to train them not to react and to walk at a more controlled pace, but the harness is a great start to make this training process easier for you and potentially more comfortable for your dog.

Soft Dog Harnesses

The soft dog harnesses can be nice if you are looking for something that is more stylish and also if you want something that is a little softer to the dog's skin and/or fur. Depending on the brand, various types of padding are put on the inside portion of the neck opening for a more comfortable fit. This type of harness does typically slide over the dogs head.

Dog Neck Injury Statistics

Andres Hallgren, a dog behaviorist in Sweden conducted a study of 400 dogs with the help of his students and several chiropractors. This study is reason enough to make the switch. Just because your dog doesn't act injured it doesn't mean that they are not injured. The results to his study are as follows...

  1. 63% of the dogs examined had neck and spinal injuries.
  2. 78% of the dogs with aggression or over activity problems had neck and spinal injuries.
  3. Of the dogs with neck injuries, 91% experienced hand jerks on a collar and leash and/or strained against their leashes.

Nylon and Retractable Dog Leashes

You have to have a leash to attach to the great new harness you got your dog! I use both a retractable leash and a nylon leash for my dogs. I find that the retractable leash is great for walks because it gives me the ability to allow the dogs to roam a little more freely when in an open area or to retract the leash and keep them close when needed. There are different size retractable leashes depending on how much slack you would like to allow your dogs and also based on their weight due to the amount of tension the leash can handle.

I typically use the nylon leash in a situation where I want to have more control, like when I take the dogs to the vet. You can buy nylon leashes in various lengths, widths, colors, and designs depending on your dogs size and your needs.

This Lens Was Blessed by SquidAngels - Thank you for the blessings!

A Purple Star

Photo Credit: SquidTeam

This lens was awarded a Purple Star on April 30, 2012. To find out more about the Purple Star Program click here.

What are Your Thoughts on Dog Harnesses?

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    • MrKind profile image

      MrKind 5 years ago

      I am the happy human friend of a siberian husky.. my dog trainer has always adviced against harnesses, but this lens is making me think about it. Thanks for the information, I will report back once I try! :)

    • ATTHED LM profile image

      ATTHED LM 5 years ago

      I have not really tried one on my dog. I do however, think midnight looks like a little legend.

    • profile image

      gazomax 5 years ago

      Great lens, I agree harnesses are much better for dogs and for handling them too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks very much for pointing out a real problem that many dog owners are not aware of.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      A harness is much better for most dogs than a single collar. Because my two dogs are very powerful, a harness was a must. It's easy to injure a dog or have a dog get away when using a collar.

    • profile image

      jazziyarbrough 5 years ago

      Dog Harnesses are a must have! Thank you so much for sharing. Someone hit my dog and kept going, so we don't have our pup anymore. I did not know the importance of having a dog harness until reading your lens. It was just something I automatically decided to do. I am so happy I did!

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Excellent article on the importance of using dog harnesses vs collars

    • Mariajomith profile image

      maria 5 years ago

      great lens, i believe dog harnesses are a neccessity. i use them everyday for my pomeranians

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 5 years ago

      And dogs seem to like harnesses better too! What a wonderful lens! Congratulations on your Purple Star. I'll come back soon!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Harnesses really help! Pinned to my dog board.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I can see why you won the purple star. Blessed!

    • BusinessSarah profile image

      BusinessSarah 5 years ago

      We used to use one of the face-harnesses, but he would just paw at his face, and I didn't want him scratching himself open! We switched to a body harness and he's been so much happier. And he doesn't try to pull my arm off anymore like he used to when we were just using a collar!

    • profile image

      GRM 5 years ago

      The quote you have in there is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Didn't know who it was by though, and now I do -- thanks!

    • profile image

      EnjoyLens 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this lens! Very useful

    • CameronPoe profile image

      CameronPoe 5 years ago

      Dog harness are so much more comfortable than dog collars. Kudos to the genius who made it first.

    • profile image

      mohamedm 5 years ago

      great lens :-)

    • profile image

      BradKamer 5 years ago

      We use a dog harness and occassionally a gentle lead for our golden retriever. NIce lens.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 5 years ago

      I had no idea that dog harnesses were safer than collars. Thanks for sharing.

      I also wanted to congratulate you on having your page make it to the Front Page on Squidoo.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      I never knew much about them... I have wondered about dogs choking because of the dog collar. I'll be recommending harnesses to my dog owning friends. I'm not a dog owner but I sure love dogs!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      My littlest dog, Gizmo, has her own seat and doggles for a ride in the convertible. If you seatbelt your kids, harness your dogs. A very important lens.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      I like this idea of a dog harness, much better that way.

      Thanks for sharing Blessed

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      This is interesting information about dog harnesses, thanks for the detailed resources.

    • Missy Zane profile image

      Missy Zane 5 years ago

      This is important information for dog walkers, and I'm so glad you did this lens!

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      We have a new dog who likes to pull on the leash, so we tried a gentle leader, but it doesn't fit well on her face. Sounds like a harness might be the solution!

    • BLemley profile image

      Beverly Lemley 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Great lens ~ something I hadn't thought about before. Thanks for the info! B : )

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My dog can run free here, but I like your lens. I did not know about the neck injury's, how sad.

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      Great Lens!

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      Congrats on your purple star!

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 5 years ago

      Congrats on your purple star!

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 5 years ago from Central Florida

      My sister uses a harness for her larger dog because he's had some back problems. Didn't know these would be so much better for even healthy big dogs too. Great lens. Have 2 friends who work for UF...go Gators!

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 5 years ago

      My wife is a Vet and she thinks these are great, they are great for training, Blessed

    • profile image

      Michelle61 5 years ago

      This is fantastic information! I did not even realize any of this . . . I have a Daschund and Daschund/Chihuahua mix - neither weighs more than 12 pounds and they always cough when we go walking. I thought this was because they were always pulling and trying to hurry up and get somewhere, even when they did not know where they were going. I am going to consider the harness for them. Thanks and great lens.

    • profile image

      DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

      They could be better than collars because they don't stress the pets too much.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      A harness has been working well with my brothers' Boston Terrier puppy. It has been especially helpful with training.

    • profile image

      seemarahate 5 years ago

      I like your dog pictures, nice story

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 5 years ago from America's Dairyland

      We went to a harness because our little princess slipped her collar the first week we had her (as a large, adult dog)! I love the harness for all the reasons you describe in this lens. Don't know if we'll use a collar or a harness with any future dogs, but for Nattie, it's harness all the way!

    • food monkey profile image

      food monkey 5 years ago

      not a fan of the harness...nice lens :)

    • AgingIntoDisabi profile image

      AgingIntoDisabi 5 years ago

      I use a harness on my dog in the car which is attached to the seat belt. Thanks to you lens, I see there are a wide variety that may be more comfortable to her. Thanks!

    • belinda342 profile image

      belinda342 5 years ago

      Dog harnesses are a great idea, especially for smaller dogs. For large dogs like my Dakota, though, I still prefer the Gentle Leader head collar. Although if that wasn't an option, a harness would be my next choice.

    • RachelDillin profile image

      RachelDillin 5 years ago

      I do not have a dog, but my cat has a harness that we walk him on.

    • GollyGearHope profile image

      Hope 5 years ago from Skokie, Illinois

      Harnesses are great for safety, control and the dog's health! Well done!

    • profile image

      racko09 5 years ago

      nice lens, i like it ;) it is good for every one who have dog

    • profile image

      PestControlNottingham 5 years ago

      Great lens, everyone should know about this! I think if every owner knew about the damage a normal lead can do to your dog they would change to a harness!

    • cheapmicrowave lm profile image

      cheapmicrowave lm 5 years ago

      I believe every dog owner should own a suitable dog harness. It's essential in my opinion although many think not. Great lens by the way.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      ....and Gator looks nice also!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You certainly have sold me on the idea of using a dog harness and will do that if I ever get to have a dog again. It makes sense that one would have better control of a dog with a harness as well as being safer and more comfortable for your dog friend. Also, Midnight looks good in that nice blue harness! Congratulations on your front page honors and purple star!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a large Brittany. He was trained on a choke collar. Awful. A few years ago we were attacked by a pit bull. After that our daily walks became impossible. We were both nervous to go out and about the neighborhood.. I should add that my dog always liked to pull on the leash. I finally switched to a harness and it has been a miracle. Buster is a completely different walking companion now. I never would have believed something so simple could solved our problems. He seems to feel safe in the harness since it hugs his body comfortably. I highly recommend switching to a harness.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Wonderful article! When I get a dog in the future I will be sure to keep this in mind. Congrats on your Purple Star and making it to the front page! Well done. :)

    • SoSimplyStephanie profile image

      Stephanie 5 years ago from DeFuniak Springs

      Nice lens!

    • Mariajomith profile image

      maria 5 years ago

      nice lens, i could not agree more.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      For handlers who don't mind being pulled around or still use the old leash-jerk methods, absolutely, yes, a harness is a better choice than a collar. I simply find it much easier just to train dogs to walk on a loose leash, but that's a personal choice.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      We have a harness for our large dog (greyhound). She had a neck/disc injury from running, so a traditional neck collar was not good for her. The harness has been great.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 5 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      I don't agree with you that a regular collar has less control over the dog than a harness. I think it's the other way around. If your dog is pulling on his leash when walking with you, then he/she is not under controll. An obedient dog never pulls at the leash, but will walk beside you. In the wild the Alpha dog will allways correct the other dogs by biting them in the neck, so that's the place to correct a dog, but you have to do that in a proper way. My two border collies never wear collars or leashes, they walk right beside me when I'm in a village or town and in the field I can let them lay down on a very large distance.

    • Ninche profile image

      Ninche 5 years ago

      We have a big dog, (old lady) and we use only harness - it is great! (she can't hear well so it is much easier to make corrections) love your lens!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I've just recently purchased one for my new puppy, and she seems to like it quite well.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      I don't have a dog, but I would imagine harnesses must be so much more comfortable for dogs than collars, especially if they tend to pull a lot on a walk. Nice lens! :) Congrats on your Purple Star!

    • profile image

      RCM 5 years ago

      For Magnum? Not a chance. You may have seen his article at http://www.squidoo.com/magnum-force . If so, you'll understand why a harness wouldn't work for him. Nothing wrong with a harness if it works for your dog, but they are simply not compatible with some dogs. Whether or not to use one would have to be decided on a case by case basis.