how do i choose a leash and harness for a puppy 2
how do i choose a leash and harness for a puppy 2

Selecting the perfect leash and harness for your new furry friend can be quite a daunting task. After all, with the wide variety available in the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But fear not! We’re here to lend a helping hand and guide you through the process. Whether you’re a first-time pet owner or an experienced dog lover, this article aims to provide you with valuable insights on choosing the right leash and harness to ensure your puppy’s safety and comfort during walks. So, let’s get started on this exciting journey of finding the perfect gear for your four-legged companion!

How Do I Choose A Leash And Harness For A Puppy?

Types of Leashes

Nylon Leashes

Nylon leashes are a popular choice among pet owners due to their durability and affordability. They are available in various colors and patterns, allowing you to find one that matches your puppy’s personality. Nylon leashes are lightweight and easy to clean, making them ideal for everyday use. However, it’s essential to ensure that the leash is strong enough to handle your puppy’s strength and size.

Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes offer the flexibility of adjusting the length, allowing your puppy to explore while still maintaining control. These leashes consist of a thin cord or tape that is wound around a spring-loaded device. They are typically equipped with a brake button to control the length. Retractable leashes can be convenient, but they require responsible handling to prevent accidents or injuries.

Leather Leashes

Leather leashes are known for their durability and classic appearance. They are often crafted from high-quality leather, making them strong and long-lasting. Leather leashes are comfortable to hold and provide a traditional feel. However, they require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition, as they can become stiff or cracked if not properly cared for.

Chain Leashes

Chain leashes are made from metal links, offering added strength and durability. They are commonly used for larger, stronger breeds due to their ability to withstand pulling. Chain leashes also provide a strong grip, offering better control over your puppy. However, they can be heavy and may not be suitable for small or delicate puppies.

Bungee Leashes

Bungee leashes utilize an elastic material that provides a slight give when your puppy pulls. This elasticity helps to absorb the shock of sudden movements, reducing the strain on both your puppy and your arm. Bungee leashes can provide a comfortable walking experience, particularly for puppies that have a tendency to pull. However, it’s important to ensure that the bungee material is strong and durable to prevent snapping.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Leash

Size and Strength of the Puppy

When choosing a leash, it’s crucial to consider the size and strength of your puppy. Smaller puppies may require a lighter and thinner leash, while larger and stronger puppies may need a thicker and more robust leash. It’s important to choose a leash that can safely handle your puppy’s pulling or tugging without breaking or causing discomfort.

Comfort and Safety

The comfort and safety of your puppy should always be a top priority. Look for leashes that have padded handles or soft materials that won’t irritate your hands. Additionally, check if the leash has any metal components or sharp edges that could potentially harm your puppy. A leash with a comfortable grip and safety features, such as reflective elements, can provide added peace of mind during walks.

Control and Training

A leash plays a vital role in controlling and training your puppy. Consider the level of control you need when selecting a leash. Some leashes offer better grip and control, while others provide more freedom of movement. If you’re in the training phase, you may prefer a shorter leash for better control. However, if your puppy is well-behaved and already responsive to commands, a longer leash may provide more freedom during walks.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can influence your choice of leash. For example, if you live in a rainy or humid climate, a nylon or synthetic material leash may be preferable as it is water-resistant and quick-drying. However, if you live in an area with extreme heat, a leather leash may become uncomfortable for both you and your puppy. Consider the climate and choose a leash material that suits your needs.

Length and Width of the Leash

The length and width of the leash can impact your puppy’s comfort and your control. Longer leashes, such as retractable ones, provide more freedom for your puppy to explore, but they may be harder to control. On the other hand, shorter leashes offer better control and are useful for keeping your puppy close during training or in crowded areas. The width of the leash can also affect your grip and control, so consider the size of your hands and the strength of your puppy when choosing the width.

Ease of Use and Convenience

Consider the ease of use and convenience of the leash. Some leashes come with features like quick-release mechanisms or easy-to-use buckles for quick attachment and detachment. Others may have built-in waste bag dispensers or attachment points for accessories like treat pouches or keys. Think about your specific needs and how the leash’s design can enhance your walking experience with your puppy.

Types of Harnesses

Step-In Harnesses

Step-in harnesses are designed for easy and hassle-free wearing. They have two holes for your puppy’s legs and a strap that goes around the chest or back. Step-in harnesses are ideal for puppies who are not comfortable with things being put over their heads. They are relatively easy to put on and take off, making them a convenient choice for daily walks.

Back-Clip Harnesses

Back-clip harnesses have a D-ring attachment point on the back, which makes them suitable for puppies who have a tendency to pull or strain on the leash. When your puppy pulls, the force is evenly distributed across the chest, reducing the risk of choking or damaging the throat. Back-clip harnesses are easy to put on and provide good control and support.

Front-Clip Harnesses

Front-clip harnesses have a D-ring attachment point on the chest, which helps redirect your puppy’s attention and prevent pulling. When your puppy pulls, the chest attachment point gently turns them to the side, discouraging forward movement. Front-clip harnesses can be effective for puppies who are still learning leash manners or have a tendency to pull excessively.

Dual-Clip Harnesses

Dual-clip harnesses offer the versatility of both front and back attachment points. This type of harness allows you to choose between the two attachment points depending on your puppy’s behavior or your walk’s specific requirements. Dual-clip harnesses are suitable for puppies who need additional control or puppies at different training stages.

Vest Harnesses

Vest harnesses provide a secure and comfortable fit for your puppy. They typically have adjustable straps around the neck and chest, allowing you to customize the fit. Vest harnesses distribute the pressure across a larger area, reducing strain on your puppy’s neck and back. They are particularly beneficial for puppies with respiratory issues or delicate necks.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Harness

Puppy’s Size and Breed

The size and breed of your puppy play a significant role in determining the appropriate harness. Puppies with broader chests may require different harness styles to ensure a proper fit. Ensure that the harness is designed to accommodate your puppy’s size and breed, taking into account their growth and development if they are still young.

Comfort and Fit

A comfortable and well-fitting harness is essential for your puppy’s well-being during walks. Look for harnesses with padding or soft materials that won’t cause friction or chafing. It’s important to measure your puppy accurately and choose a size that allows for adjustments as they grow. A snug but not restrictive fit is ideal for ensuring both comfort and security.

Training Needs

Consider your puppy’s training needs when selecting a harness. Some harnesses are designed to discourage pulling, while others may have features like additional attachment points or handlebars for better control during training. Evaluate your puppy’s behavior and training goals to determine the most appropriate harness style for their unique needs.

Pulling Behavior

If your puppy tends to pull on the leash, choosing a harness that helps discourage pulling can be beneficial. Front-clip harnesses or harnesses with additional front attachments can redirect your puppy’s pulling behavior and discourage them from dragging you along during walks. Keep in mind that a harness alone may not completely eliminate pulling, and consistent training is necessary.

Safety Features

Safety features should be a priority when choosing a harness for your puppy. Look for harnesses with reflective elements or bright colors for enhanced visibility during low-light conditions. Additionally, consider harnesses with sturdy and secure buckles or clips that won’t accidentally open, ensuring that your puppy remains safely secured during walks.

Ease of Putting On and Taking Off

The ease of putting on and taking off a harness is crucial for both you and your puppy’s convenience. Some harnesses have step-in designs or adjustable straps, allowing for quick and hassle-free wearing. Pay attention to the harness’s design and closure mechanisms to determine how easy it will be to put on and take off your puppy.

How Do I Choose A Leash And Harness For A Puppy?

Matching Leash and Harness


When selecting a leash and harness, it’s important to consider their compatibility. Some harnesses come with a built-in leash attachment point, while others may require a separate leash. Ensure that the leash and harness you choose are compatible in terms of attachment mechanisms and size. Matching leash and harness setups can provide a cohesive and coordinated look during walks.


The material of both the leash and harness is crucial for durability and comfort. Consider the material’s strength, whether it is nylon, leather, chain, or bungee, and ensure that it can withstand your puppy’s pulling or tugging. Additionally, evaluate the comfort of the material. Soft and smooth materials can prevent rubbing or chafing, keeping your puppy comfortable during walks.

Style and Design

While not essential for functionality, the style and design of the leash and harness can add a touch of personalization to your puppy’s walking gear. Whether you prefer a vibrant color, a patterned design, or a sleek and minimalistic style, there are plenty of options to choose from. Select a style and design that reflects your puppy’s personality or matches your own aesthetic preferences.

Getting the Right Size

Measuring the Puppy’s Girth

To ensure you get the right size leash and harness, it’s important to measure your puppy’s girth accurately. Use a soft measuring tape or a piece of string to measure the circumference of your puppy’s chest, just behind their front legs. Record the measurement and refer to the manufacturer’s size guidelines when selecting the appropriate size.

Consulting Size Guidelines

Each leash and harness manufacturer will provide specific size guidelines for their products. Consult these guidelines and compare them to your puppy’s measurements to determine the correct size. Keep in mind that different brands may have slightly different sizing, so it’s important to refer to the specific brand’s guidelines.

Adjustable vs. Fixed Sizes

Consider whether you want an adjustable or fixed-size leash and harness. Adjustable options allow for flexibility as your puppy grows, while fixed sizes may offer a more secure fit for immediate needs. Adjustable harnesses typically have multiple points of adjustment, such as adjustable straps around the neck and chest. This feature allows you to customize the fit and make necessary adjustments as your puppy grows.

Considering the Puppy’s Age and Development

Puppies’ Rapid Growth

During the puppy stage, their growth and development can be rapid. It’s important to choose gear that can accommodate their changing size. Adjustable leashes and harnesses are particularly useful during this phase as they can be easily resized to provide a secure fit as your puppy grows.

Choosing Adjustable Gear

Opting for adjustable gear, including both leashes and harnesses, allows you to make necessary adjustments as your puppy’s size changes. Adjustable features, such as adjustable straps or buckles, ensure a comfortable and secure fit throughout your puppy’s growth stages. It’s important to regularly check the fit of the gear and make adjustments as needed.

Soft and Lightweight Materials

Puppies have delicate skin and are prone to discomfort from rough materials. Choosing leashes and harnesses made from soft and lightweight materials can help prevent rubbing or chafing. Look for options with padding or breathable fabrics that won’t cause irritation or restrict your growing puppy’s movement.

Avoiding Restrictive Gear

While it’s important for your puppy to be safely secured during walks, it’s equally crucial to avoid restrictive gear that can hinder their movement or breathing. Ensure that the harness allows for natural movement and doesn’t put excessive pressure on your puppy’s neck or chest. Always prioritize your puppy’s comfort and well-being when selecting gear.

Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance

Washable vs. Non-Washable

Consider the ease of cleaning and maintenance when choosing a leash and harness. Leashes and harnesses can accumulate dirt, drool, or other messes during walks. Washable options, such as nylon or fabric materials, can be easily cleaned using mild soap and water. Non-washable materials, such as leather or chain, may require special cleaning products or techniques to keep them in good condition.

Durable and Long-lasting Materials

Choosing leashes and harnesses made from durable and long-lasting materials is essential, particularly if you have an active or strong puppy. Look for options that are resistant to wear and tear, as well as materials that won’t easily fray or break with regular use. Investing in quality gear can save you money in the long run, as you won’t have to replace them as frequently.

Quick-drying Properties

If you live in an area with frequent rain or wet conditions, consider leashes and harnesses that have quick-drying properties. Nylon or synthetic materials tend to dry faster, preventing the buildup of mold or unpleasant odors. Quick-drying gear can be particularly useful if you walk your puppy frequently or engage in outdoor activities that expose the gear to moisture.

Additional Features and Considerations

Reflective Elements

Leashes and harnesses with reflective elements can enhance your puppy’s visibility and safety during walks, especially in low-light conditions or during nighttime walks. The reflective materials reflect light, making your puppy more noticeable to drivers or pedestrians, reducing the risk of accidents.

Attachment Points for Accessories

Some leashes and harnesses come with attachment points for accessories such as waste bag holders, treat pouches, or keys. Consider your specific needs and whether having these attachment points would be beneficial during walks. Having the convenience of easily accessible accessories can enhance your overall walking experience.

Visibility and Contrast

Besides reflective elements, the overall visibility and contrast of the leash and harness can also contribute to your puppy’s safety. Brightly colored options or those with contrasting colors can make your puppy more noticeable to others, keeping them safe during walks. Additionally, vibrant colors or distinct patterns can add a touch of style and fun to your puppy’s walking gear.

Budget Considerations

When choosing a leash and harness, it’s important to consider your budget. Leashes and harnesses are available at various price points, depending on the brand, materials used, and additional features. While it’s tempting to opt for the cheapest options, it’s essential to prioritize quality and durability to ensure the safety and comfort of your puppy.

Customer Reviews and Recommendations

Before making a final decision, it’s a good idea to check customer reviews and recommendations. Hearing from other pet owners who have used the same leash or harness can provide insights into the overall quality, durability, and performance of the gear. Look for reviews that specifically address factors such as comfort, ease of use, and suitability for different breeds or sizes.

Trying Different Options

Considering Trial Periods

If you’re uncertain about which leash or harness to choose, consider options that offer trial periods or a return policy. This allows you to test the gear with your puppy and assess its suitability before committing to a purchase. Trying out different leashes and harnesses can help you determine the most comfortable and effective option for your puppy’s specific needs.

Consulting with Trainers or Behaviorists

Consulting with trainers or behaviorists can provide valuable guidance when selecting a leash and harness for your puppy. These professionals have experience working with different breeds and can offer insights into the most suitable gear for your puppy’s specific needs and behaviors. They can also provide training techniques or exercises to help you effectively use the chosen gear.

Observe Your Puppy’s Behavior and Comfort

Lastly, no one knows your puppy better than you. Take the time to observe your puppy’s behavior and comfort level with the chosen leash and harness. Watch for any signs of discomfort or resistance and make adjustments accordingly. Your puppy’s well-being and enjoyment during walks should be the ultimate determining factor when choosing the right leash and harness.

Previous articleShould I Use A Harness Or Collar For Running With My Dog?
Next articleWhat Is A Harness With Reflective Material For Nighttime Walks?
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.