Harnesses have differing functions and are designed for specific purposes.
Broadly speaking harnesses can be placed in one of three categories.
Working - tracking, carting, drafting, freight pulls, guide dogs
Companion – walking, skijoring, running,
Prisoner Restraint – Front-clip harnesses, constricting harnesses
Many people choose a harness because their dog pulls when on a leash and wearing a collar and they want to avoid pressure on the dog’s neck. If this is the case for choosing a harness it is generally better to simply teach your dog to walk on a leash without pulling.
What you need to know before choosing a harness:
You would not wear a poorly fitted backpack, safety harness, or shoes. Don’t subject your dog to an improper or poorly fitted harness. If appropriate for your dog to wear a harness it is important that the harness is fitted properly. Too many dogs are wearing harnesses that are too tight and/or the girth strap is fitted to close to the front legs and is pushing into the elbows.
A properly fitted back-clip harness is recommended when a harness is appropriate.
Tightening Harness (Not recommended)
- Constricting – why?
- Imagine having someone tighten a strap around your chest while you are walking and trying to breathe.
Front-Clip Harness (Not recommended)
- As a specialist in canine sports medicine Dr. M. Christine Zink* has significant concerns about the use of harnesses that wrap around the front of dog’s forelegs. (Whole Dog Journal May 2013) For dogs that pull. Front-clip harnesses can be hard on a dog’s unsupported ribcage from the substantial torqueing force from front-clip harnesses. Dr. Chris Zink should be releasing her “limited gait analysis study” sometime in the near future which will address concerns with these types of harness.
- * Dr. M. Christine Zink, DVM, PhD; Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Pathologists; ACVP, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation
Back-Clip Harness (Working & Companion Harness)
Intent is to allow the dog to pull
If a harness is used for reason other than controlling the walk, we recommend either the “Distance Harness” from Howling Dog Alaska or the “Urban Trail” harness from Alpine Outfitters.
Distance Harness - Howling Dog Alaska
The Howling Dog Alaska Distance Harness is the harness of choice for skijoring, bikejoring, canicross, scootering and dog trekking. It is an ideal harness for the use with BTL and Springer bike attachment.
This harness is one of the most popular harnesses for long distance mushing.
The Distance Harness only reaches about 1/3 down the dog's body, which eliminates the pressure on the dog's hips while pulling. Therefore it makes this harness an excellent choice of a harness for any dog with lower back problems. Crabbing dogs (dogs running sideways) will straighten out. Our harness comes highly recommended by Wes Rau, top canine physical therapist.
Urban Trail Harness - Alpine Outfitters
The Urban Trail Half Harness is perfect for use in a variety of dog activities in addition to mushing, such as scootering, bikejoring, roller blading, canicross, skijoring, tracking, and hiking. This harness works equally well for walks around the neighborhood. This harness extends only part way down the back to accommodate the steeper pull angle associated with biking and scootering. Veterinarian Recommended (see Dog World Magazine article posted through our website).
Pulling pressure is on dog's chest, not neck and shoulder, and because it reaches half way down the back, it eliminates downward pressure a standard harness puts on dog's hindquarters.
Rotates freely around dog's torso, thereby helping to reduce "crabbing".
- Good for big dogs
- Great for senior dogs, easy on the hips.
Fully padded with premium quality Polartec Polar Fleece and is extremely lightweight, durable, and is machine washable. Contrary to appearance and perception, Polar Fleece does not readily absorb moisture; due to its hydrophobic nature, it only retains 1% of its weight in water.