how do i properly put on and adjust a dog harness 2
how do i properly put on and adjust a dog harness 2

If you’re a dog owner or considering becoming one, one important item you’ll need is a dog harness. But how do you ensure you’re putting it on and adjusting it properly? This article will guide you through the steps, providing you with the knowledge and confidence to securely fit your dog with a harness and ensure their comfort and safety while on walks or outings. So, whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or a newbie, read on to learn how to properly put on and adjust a dog harness.

Choosing the Right Harness

First and foremost, when it comes to choosing the right harness for your furry friend, it’s important to consider their size and breed. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so you want to make sure you select a harness that is appropriate for their specific needs. A harness that is too small may cause discomfort, while one that is too large may not provide the necessary support. Take the time to measure your dog’s chest and neck circumference to ensure you choose the correct size.

Once you have determined the appropriate size, it’s time to decide on the type of harness that will work best for your dog. There are various options available, including back-clip harnesses, front-clip harnesses, and step-in harnesses. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so consider factors such as your dog’s behavior, walking habits, and any specific training goals you may have.

Lastly, it’s essential to assess your dog’s comfort and needs when selecting a harness. Some dogs may have specific health conditions, such as arthritis or respiratory issues, that require a harness with specific features. Additionally, consider the activity level of your dog and their tolerance for wearing a harness for extended periods. By taking these factors into account, you can choose a harness that not only fits properly but also provides the necessary comfort and support for your canine companion.

Getting Familiar with the Harness

Before putting the harness on your dog, it’s important to get familiar with its structure and components. Take a moment to inspect the harness, checking for any signs of wear or damage. It’s essential to ensure that the harness is in good condition before use, as a damaged harness can compromise your dog’s safety.

Learn the different parts of the harness, such as the chest strap, shoulder straps, back strap, and any additional adjustable straps. Understanding how each component works will make it easier for you to put the harness on correctly and make any necessary adjustments for a perfect fit.

Before putting the harness on your dog, take the time to adjust the straps according to their size. Each harness will have different adjustment points, so refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance. It’s important to have a good fit before proceeding to avoid any discomfort or potential escape.

How Do I Properly Put On And Adjust A Dog Harness?

Step-by-Step Guide to Putting on a Dog Harness

To put on the harness, start by positioning it correctly. The chest strap should be placed parallel to your dog’s front legs, while the back strap rests along their back. Make sure the harness is facing the right way, with any labels or attachments on the outside.

Next, slip your dog’s legs through the appropriate loops. The loops should be big enough for their legs to comfortably pass through without any restriction. Ensure that all four legs are through the loops before proceeding.

Now, secure the harness around your dog’s chest or back, depending on the type of harness you have chosen. Make sure the strap rests snugly against their body but is not too tight. You should be able to comfortably slide a finger between the harness and your dog’s skin.

Fasten the buckles or clips, ensuring that they are securely closed. Double-check that all connections are locked in place to prevent any accidental escapes.

Finally, check the snugness of the harness. While it should be snug enough to stay in place, it should not restrict your dog’s movement or breathing. Ensure that the harness does not dig into their skin or cause any discomfort.

Adjusting the Harness for Proper Fit

After putting on the harness, it’s important to make any necessary adjustments to ensure a proper fit. Start by checking the snugness of the chest strap. If it is too loose, your dog may be able to wiggle out of the harness, while if it is too tight, it can cause discomfort or restrict movement. Adjust the chest strap until it fits securely but allows for easy movement.

Next, check the shoulder straps. They should be snug, but not too loose or tight. If they are too loose, the harness may shift or slide around during use. On the other hand, if they are too tight, they can rub against your dog’s skin and cause irritation. Make any necessary adjustments to achieve a comfortable fit.

Ensure that the back strap is properly aligned along your dog’s back. It should sit straight without pulling to one side or the other. Adjust the length of the back strap as needed to achieve proper alignment.

If your harness has any additional adjustable straps, such as those around the neck or belly, take the time to adjust them for a comfortable fit. These straps may help distribute the weight more evenly and prevent any pressure points.

How Do I Properly Put On And Adjust A Dog Harness?

Ensuring Comfort and Safety

Once the harness is properly fitted, it’s important to check for any signs of discomfort. Keep an eye out for excessive rubbing, chafing, or redness. If you notice any signs of discomfort, re-evaluate the fit and make any necessary adjustments. Your dog’s comfort should always be a priority.

Ensure that the harness does not restrict your dog’s movement. They should be able to walk, run, and play freely without any hindrance. Observe your dog’s gait and behavior while wearing the harness to ensure they are comfortable and unrestricted.

Examine the harness for proper weight distribution. The straps should evenly distribute the weight across your dog’s body, preventing any strain or pressure on specific areas. If you notice any areas of concentrated weight, make adjustments to achieve a more balanced distribution.

Regularly check and tighten the straps as needed. Over time, straps may loosen due to regular use, so it’s important to make any necessary adjustments to maintain a secure fit. This will help ensure the comfort and safety of your dog during walks or other activities.

Training and Getting Your Dog Used to the Harness

Introducing a harness to your dog may initially be met with resistance or hesitation. To help your dog adjust, it’s important to introduce the harness gradually. Start by allowing your dog to sniff and investigate the harness before trying to put it on. This can help them become more comfortable with its presence.

Offer positive reinforcement throughout the process. Use treats, praise, and rewards to create a positive association with the harness. Reward your dog for calm and cooperative behavior while you put on and adjust the harness. This positive reinforcement will make the experience more enjoyable for your furry friend.

Practice short walks or play sessions with the harness on. Start with shorter durations and gradually increase the length of time your dog wears the harness. This will help them get used to the sensation and build their tolerance over time. Monitor their behavior during these sessions and make any necessary adjustments to ensure their comfort.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to putting on and adjusting a dog harness, there are some common mistakes to avoid. Firstly, using the wrong size or type of harness can lead to discomfort and decreased effectiveness. Take the time to research and select a harness that is appropriate for your dog’s size, breed, and specific needs.

Putting the harness on backwards is another mistake that can easily happen if you’re not paying attention. Always ensure that the chest strap sits parallel to your dog’s front legs and that the back strap rests along their back.

Leaving straps too loose or tightening them excessively can both lead to discomfort and issues with the harness’s effectiveness. Take the time to properly adjust the straps so that they are snug but not overly tight. Regularly check and adjust the fit as needed.

Ignoring signs of discomfort or irritation is another mistake to avoid. Your dog may not be able to communicate their discomfort verbally, so it’s important to watch for any visible signs such as rubbing, chafing, or changes in behavior. If you notice any signs of discomfort, re-evaluate the fit and consult a professional if needed.

Cleaning and Maintenance

To ensure the longevity of your dog’s harness and keep it in good condition, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential. Regularly inspect the harness for any signs of wear or damage. Look for frayed straps, loose stitches, or broken buckles. If you notice any issues, it may be time to replace the harness.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the harness. Some harnesses are machine washable, while others may require handwashing or spot cleaning. Use a mild detergent and lukewarm water to clean the harness, and avoid harsh chemicals that may irritate your dog’s skin.

Remove any dirt or debris from the harness after each use. This will prevent any buildup that could cause discomfort or lead to hygiene-related issues. You can use a soft brush or cloth to gently remove any dirt or hair from the harness.

When not in use, properly store the harness to prevent damage. Keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. This will help maintain its condition and ensure it is ready for your next adventure with your furry companion.

Consulting a Professional

If you have any doubts or concerns about putting on and adjusting a dog harness, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a veterinarian or dog trainer. They can provide valuable guidance based on your dog’s specific needs and requirements. They may also be able to recommend professional fitting or customization services if necessary.

If your dog has special needs or conditions, it’s important to ask for guidance from a professional. They can help you select a harness that is best suited for your dog’s unique situation and provide step-by-step instructions for proper fitting and adjustment.

Remember, consulting a professional can provide you with peace of mind and ensure that you are taking the best possible care of your furry friend.


Choosing the right harness and properly putting it on and adjusting it is essential for your dog’s comfort and safety. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your dog enjoys the benefits of a well-fitted and comfortable harness. Remember to prioritize your dog’s comfort and safety at all times. With the right harness and a little training, you and your furry friend can enjoy many happy walks together.

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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.