The Importance of Dog Harnesses
Harnesses Can Keep Your Dog Healthy
If your dog loves to pull while you walk, you may want to invest in an affordable dog harness that minimizes pressure placed on the dog's neck and windpipe. Constantly pulling with nylon collars and choke chains can crush the windpipe. After all, we would never put a collar around someone's neck, especially if it were shaped like a noose. My poor dog Hopper (pictured left) was an incessant puller. We originally bought him a harness, but one of the plastic connectors broke, and Hopper paid the price. To this day he will begin horrendous choking fits if he pulls with the traditional leash and collar on. It's really frightening and uncomfortable to see.
*Photo taken by me.
Dog harnesses redistribute the force across the dog's sternum and upper body, which is clearly much safer. The neck is the weakest part of any mammal's body. Don't let your dog hurt itself.
Great Small Dog Harnesses
Puppia is the biggest brand of small dog harnesses. Design exclusively for dog under 25 pounds, Puppia harnesses are ideal for small breeds and Amazon has some of the best prices around. X-small fits 304 pound fur babys. Medium Fits 7-12 pound doggies and x-large fits dog 16-25 pounds. Sizes in between should order small or large.
So Your Have An Adorably Odd Shaped Dog? - Make Your Own Dog Harness! I did.
Like I mentioned at the top of the page, my dog Hopper would pull so hard that he would choke and sputter. This was so bad for him, and it didn't make the walks pleasant at all. He would always pull at the beginning of walks when he was excited and if he saw something like a bird or a squirrel. His pulling was a big problem, but the fact that he wouldn't stop even when hurting himself made it so much worse.
I sew and quilt everything, so I decided to make my own low-slung harness to fit tight around his chest but below his throat and windpipe. I looked at a few products and patterns online and developed something unique based on those.
I started with two straps. One to fit across his chest, around his shoulders and behind his neck. The other one to wrap around his body from the shoulders, behind his front legs and under his body. (You could probably do this by with one long strip too.)
Then, I added a moveable strip to run between his front paws and connect the front strap to the back strap. This keeps the strips stable and keeps him from wriggling out. I kept the connector moving freeing by folding the ends into loops around the other two strips. Then, I stitched the ends of the loops. You can do this with the strips running through, or you can thread the strips through later.
With the three strips in place. I stitched the ends of the two big strips together at an angle. I added a snap to keep the harness on him, but that would not be nearly enough to stop this tugger. I also added two loops of strong woven webbing that could be tied together securely. The purpose was to keep the harness on while I tied the loops. The fabric loops keep the harness tied securely, but they also give you something to clip the leash on to.
Here's what I used to make the harness.
- Fabric strips
- Strips of quilt batting (this makes a padded harness but you could also use interfacing or even felt)
- Metal snaps ( I don't have a snap installer tool, so I cut snaps off a shirt along with a small square of surrounding fabric. I attached that to the ends of the harness strap. Velcro would also work)
- Woven cotton webbing, strong ribbon or a shoelace
I used things that I had at home and in my scrap bag. You could always use better store-bought notions, or you could adapt the design to your needs using what you have on hand. It's a good way to save money and a trip to the store.
I will post a diagram or photo of the harness later to show you what I mean.
Polly's Favorite Dog Harness!
We purchased a great Dachshund harness on eBay for our little girl Polly. It's fully adjustable, so it will fit puppies, miniature dachshunds and standards in the 20-25 pound range. The one we ordered also has a tiny bell!
I have to say that red complements her fur perfectly! The seller designed them for her doxie and had more made for other pet owners. They aren't always available, probably because they're made in batches. But, if she has some in stock, you'll see them listed below. They only problem I see is that the clips on the harness strap are plastic, but this this your dog probably won't be pulling much anyway.
Do use you harness with your dog?
More Instructions and Ideas for Crafting a Custom Harness
- Make a Cloth Dog Harness
Online Instructions from eHow using nylon webbing and D-rings
- Make A Vest-Style Dog Harness
This eHow tutorial includes instructions to make your own vest-style harness.
- Make a Small Dog Harness
Designed for small dogs, this tutorial from Totally Tutorials uses adorable grosgrain ribbon.
- Make a Harness for Large Dogs
Ideal for shepherds, retrievers, labs and large breeds, these instructions include diagrams and instructions to make a durable multi-breed dog harness.
- Make a Professional-Quality Dog Harness
These step-by-step instructions include everything you need to know about making professional-style dog harnesses using nylon webbing.
- Make a Cold Weather Vest
Designed for cool weather, this HGTV tutorial includes complete instructions to create a full-coverage vest-style harness.
- Make an Emergency Harness
Don't be caught unprepared. Learn how to make a makeshift harness using a standard collar and leash.
- Make a Dog Sledding Harness
Learn how to create a durable harness that will hold up on the long haul.