can harnesses be used for dogs who pull when on leash 1
can harnesses be used for dogs who pull when on leash 1

Are you tired of feeling like you’re being dragged along by your furry friend whenever you go for a walk? Well, it turns out that harnesses might just be the solution you’ve been looking for! In this article, we’ll explore whether harnesses can effectively control dogs who have a tendency to pull when on a leash. So grab a treat, settle in, and let’s find out if a harness could be the key to finally enjoying a peaceful stroll with your four-legged companion.

Types of Harnesses

Front-Clip Harness

A front-clip harness is designed with the leash attachment point at the front of the dog’s chest. This type of harness helps discourage pulling by redirecting the dog’s forward motion, making it easier for you to control and guide them. The front-clip harness is particularly useful for dogs who tend to lunge or pull excessively.

Back-Clip Harness

A back-clip harness, as the name suggests, has the leash attachment point located on the dog’s back. This type of harness is often more comfortable for dogs and is suitable for those who do not pull excessively. However, for dogs with a strong tendency to pull, a back-clip harness may not provide adequate control.

Head Halter

A head halter is a harness-like device that goes around the dog’s head and muzzle. It is similar to a horse’s halter and allows you to control the dog’s movements by gently steering their head. This type of harness can be effective for dogs who are strong pullers or have a tendency to be reactive towards other dogs or distractions.

No-Pull Harness

A no-pull harness is specially designed to discourage pulling. It typically has a front attachment point and additional features like a martingale loop or a cinching mechanism that tightens when the dog pulls. This type of harness can be a good option for dogs who have not responded well to other types of harnesses or training methods.

Advantages of Using a Harness

Control and Maneuverability

Using a harness provides you with better control and maneuverability when walking your dog. With the leash attachment point positioned at the chest or back, you can easily redirect their movement and guide them in the desired direction. This is especially beneficial for dogs who tend to pull or have a strong prey drive.

Prevents Neck and Spinal Injuries

Unlike traditional collars that put pressure on the dog’s neck, harnesses distribute the pressure across their body, reducing the risk of neck and spinal injuries. This is particularly important for dogs who pull forcefully or have a history of neck or back problems.

Distributes Pressure across the Body

A well-fitted harness distributes pressure more evenly across the dog’s body compared to a collar. This is especially beneficial for dogs with respiratory issues, such as brachycephalic breeds, as it minimizes the strain on their airways. Harnesses also lessen the risk of choking or damaging the trachea when the dog pulls.

Can Harnesses Be Used For Dogs Who Pull When On Leash?

Challenges of Using a Harness for Dogs Who Pull

Limited Training Control

While harnesses provide better control compared to collars, they may not offer the same level of training control as head halters or certain training collars. For dogs who require more precise training and guidance, additional training aids or professional help may be necessary.

Potential for Increased Pulling

In some cases, using a harness can inadvertently reinforce pulling behavior. Some dogs may associate the feeling of pressure on their chest or back with the need to pull harder. It is important to pair the use of a harness with proper training techniques to teach your dog to walk politely on a leash.

Escape Artist Dogs

Certain dogs, especially those with Houdini-like tendencies, may find ways to wriggle out of their harnesses. It is crucial to select a harness that fits securely and offers multiple points of attachment to prevent escape. Regularly checking the harness for wear and tear is also important to ensure its effectiveness.

Choosing the Right Harness

Size and Fit

Choosing the right size and fit is crucial for a harness to be effective and comfortable for your dog. Measure your dog’s chest and neck circumference to find the appropriate size, and follow the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines. A properly fitted harness should allow you to fit two fingers comfortably between the harness and your dog’s body.

Comfort and Padding

Look for a harness that is made of high-quality, durable materials and has ample padding in areas where it will be in contact with your dog’s body. Comfortable padding helps prevent chafing, rubbing, and discomfort during walks, ensuring a positive experience for your furry friend.

Attachment Points

Consider the type and location of the attachment points on the harness. Front-clip harnesses are effective for discouraging pulling, while back-clip harnesses offer more freedom of movement. Depending on your dog’s behavior and walking style, you may prefer a harness with multiple attachment points for versatility.

Training Compatibility

Evaluate whether the harness is compatible with your training goals and techniques. Some harnesses have additional features, such as training handles or rings for attaching additional training aids. Choose a harness that aligns with your training philosophy and methods to effectively reinforce positive behaviors.

Introducing your Dog to a Harness

Positive Association

Before using the harness during walks, create a positive association by associating it with rewards and praise. Let your dog sniff the harness, offer treats, and gradually introduce it by pairing its presence with enjoyable activities, such as playtime or mealtime.

Gradual Exposure

Once your dog is comfortable with the presence of the harness, gradually introduce them to the sensation of wearing it. Start by putting the harness on for short periods indoors, gradually increasing the duration as your dog becomes more relaxed and accustomed to it. Monitor their behavior and comfort level throughout the process.

Using Treats and Rewards

Encourage your dog’s cooperation during the harness introduction process by offering treats and rewards. Reward them for wearing the harness calmly, walking alongside you, and displaying positive behavior. This positive reinforcement helps create a strong association between the harness and enjoyable experiences.

Additional Tools and Strategies

Double-Ended Leads

Pairing the harness with a double-ended lead can provide even more control and flexibility during walks. Double-ended leads have attachments at both ends, allowing you to have control at both the chest and back attachment points of the harness. This gives you more options to redirect and manage your dog’s pulling behavior.

Anti-Pull Training Aids

In addition to using a harness, you may consider incorporating anti-pull training aids into your training routine. These aids, such as front-clip harnesses with martingale loops or head halters, can amplify the effectiveness of the harness and help discourage pulling more efficiently. Consult with a professional trainer to determine the best training aids for your dog.

Working with a Professional Trainer

If you are struggling with your dog’s pulling behavior or finding it challenging to introduce the harness effectively, seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer can be immensely helpful. They can assess your dog’s behavior, recommend the most suitable harness and training methods, and provide personalized guidance to address any specific challenges.


Harnesses can be highly beneficial for dogs who pull when on a leash. They offer improved control, help prevent neck and spinal injuries, and distribute pressure more evenly across the body. However, it is important to consider the challenges of using a harness, including limited training control and the potential for increased pulling. By choosing the right harness, introducing it gradually and positively, and incorporating additional tools and strategies, you can successfully manage your dog’s pulling behavior and enjoy stress-free walks together. Remember, training and consistency are key in helping your dog become a well-behaved and polite walking companion.

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Brian Moore
I'm Brian Moore, a veterinarian with over 10 years of experience. I graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation, I worked as a general practitioner in a small animal clinic for several years. In 2017, I opened my own veterinary practice, Moore Animal Hospital. I'm passionate about providing compassionate and high-quality care to all animals. I'm skilled in a wide range of veterinary procedures, including surgery, dentistry, and internal medicine. I'm also a certified animal behaviorist, and I take a special interest in helping animals with behavioral problems. In addition to my clinical work, I'm also active in the veterinary community. I'm a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association. I'm also a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences. I'm dedicated to providing the best possible care for my patients and their families. I'm a compassionate and knowledgeable veterinarian who is always willing to go the extra mile. I'm originally from San Francisco, California. I'm married and have two children. I enjoy hiking, camping, and spending time with my family. I'm also a member of the local animal shelter and volunteer my time to help care for homeless animals. I'm excited to continue my career as a veterinarian and help even more animals in need.