Learning how to properly fit a dog harness could be the difference between your dog pulling a Houdini and disappearing down the street or walking safely and happily beside you on the leash.
So how should the harness fit? If the harness is too big, it may rub and chafe your dog and cause sore spots. Too small and it will squeeze and be uncomfortable.
(think about running shoes, too big=bad, too small=bad).
FIRST THINGS FIRST - How to measure
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:
Measure the 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. This is the most accurate way to make sure you are getting the correct size dog harness, no matter the brand.
Weight: Your dog’s weight can help you determine which harnesses will be strong enough for them to wear and in some cases, it can help you determine the right size harness if you are second guessing based on chest measurements.
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. (You won't need this measurement for the Freedom No-Pull Harness if you go that route).
HOW SHOULD 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.
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.
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.
SHOULD MY DOG WEAR A HARNESS OR 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.
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!