How to Fit a Dog Harness

By Alisha Navarro

yellow lab in harness

A properly fitting harness could be the difference between your dog pulling a Houdini and disappearing down the street or walking happily alongside you on a loose leash. Learn how to measure your dog for a harness and how a dog harness should fit to make your next walk enjoyable for everyone involved.

WHY SHOULD MY DOG WEAR A HARNESS OVER A COLLAR?

If your dog is a puller or an escape artist, or if you’re training or lifting your dog, your dog should probably wear a harness. When a dog pulls on a normal collar, they tend to choke themselves. All that pressure on their trachea (throat) can actually damage it and cause breathing problems. Harnesses are much safer and more comfortable for dogs that pull, as they distribute pressure across a larger, less sensitive area (the chest).

Still not sure if you should ditch the dog collar? Check out our guide on when dogs need to wear a harness.

HOW TO MEASURE YOUR DOG FOR A HARNESS

There aren’t standard dimensions for dog harnesses; a medium-sized dog harness from one company could be considered an extra-large at another. Before you can choose the right harness for your dog, you’ll need to take a few measurements:

Weight: Your dog’s weight can help you determine which harnesses will be strong enough for them to wear. With other dog harnesses, a dog that’s 20 pounds over their weight limit could break them when pulling or lunging after a squirrel. But our no-pull harnesses have been tested to pull up to 3800 lbs, meaning they’ll never break or fray no matter how hard your dog pulls.

Chest: Using a soft tape measure (or piece of string), measure all the way around the LARGEST part of your dog’s chest. Starting at the bottom of their rib cage, bring the tape up and over their back, and then back down to where you began.

Neck: You’ll need to know your dog’s neck size for some types of harnesses. To get this number, simply wrap your tape measure around the THICKEST part of your dog’s neck.

Check out our sizing chart to choose the right size harness or collar for your dog. If your dog is between sizes, select the next size up.

HOW A DOG HARNESS SHOULD FIT

There are many different kinds of dog harnesses, and each type of harness will have a slightly different style and fit. In general, a dog harness should fit snug, but not too tight. It should be tight enough that your dog can’t back out of it, and the ring (that you clip the leash to) should sit higher on their chest. Just like with a collar, you should be able to fit two fingers (but only two!) between the harness and your dog.

young great dane in harness

SIGNS YOUR DOG’S HARNESS ISN’T FITTING RIGHT

Your dog’s harness isn’t fitting right if:

  • They can step or wiggle out of it
  • They’re chafing under the armpits or around the harness
  • They’re losing fur/hair around the harness area
  • The chest strap loosens on your walk
  • The back piece rotates to the side

If your dog is being resistant to walking (they just stand there on the sidewalk and don’t budge) or if they’re putting up a fight when it’s time to put on their harness, it might be because the harness doesn’t fit right!

Think about wearing a bathing suit that’s way too tight and how it digs into and rubs against your skin. If that was your only bathing suit, you probably wouldn’t want to go swimming. In your dog’s mind, going on a walk just isn’t worth the discomfort of wearing their too-tight harness.

WHY A PROPER FIT MATTERS

Not only can a poor-fitting harness cause your dog discomfort and pose a safety issue for dogs who can wiggle out and break free, but it can also cause medical problems too. If your dog’s harness is too small/tight, it can restrict their natural movements. Their stride gets thrown out of whack and they start using their muscles incorrectly, causing unnecessary stress on their joints and bones.

At 2 Hounds Design, we understand that dogs come in all different shapes and sizes. That’s why we designed our Freedom No-Pull Harness to be adjustable, unbreakable, and able to fit any dog from 14 lbs all the way up to 250+ lbs! Shop our high-quality dog harnesses today!

Comfort, Style & Safety

Since 2003, 2 Hounds Design has been making quality products that dogs love wearing and people love using! We use Lean Manufacturing principles to drive continuous improvement in the areas of quality, comfort, and on time delivery.

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