should i use a harness with a handle for better control
should i use a harness with a handle for better control

Have you ever wondered if using a harness with a handle could give you better control over your furry friend? Well, you’re in luck! This article explores the benefits of using a harness with a handle and sheds light on whether or not it’s the right choice for you and your four-legged companion. So, if you’ve ever struggled to keep your pooch in line during walks or outings, keep reading to discover if a harness with a handle might be the solution you’ve been searching for.

Benefits of Using a Harness with a Handle

Using a harness with a handle can greatly enhance your dog-walking experience. One of the primary benefits is improved control and stability. A harness with a handle allows you to have a better grip on your dog, enabling you to guide their movement and react quickly in any situation. Whether you’re navigating crowded spaces or encountering distractions during walks, the handle provides you with added control and stability, making it easier to manage your dog’s behavior.

Another key advantage of harnesses with handles is the enhanced safety measures they offer. The handle acts as a convenient point of contact, allowing you to quickly restrain your dog in case of any potential dangers. This can be particularly useful when crossing busy streets or encountering unknown dogs. It provides an extra layer of security and helps prevent your dog from pulling or lunging unexpectedly.

In addition to control and safety, harnesses with handles also provide greater support and guidance to your dog. The handle can be used to gently steer your dog in the right direction, especially if they tend to veer off course or get easily distracted. It also serves as a helpful aid during training sessions, allowing you to provide clear signals to your dog and reinforce desired behaviors.

Different Types of Harnesses with Handles

There are several types of harnesses with handles available, each designed with different features to suit specific needs.

Back-Clip Harnesses

Back-clip harnesses have the handle positioned on the back, near the shoulders of the dog. They are commonly used for small to medium-sized dogs and provide good control while allowing freedom of movement for your furry friend. These harnesses are great for casual walks and everyday use.

Front-Clip Harnesses

Front-clip harnesses have the handle located on the front, near the chest area of the dog. This type of harness is effective for dogs that tend to pull, as the front attachment helps redirect their forward momentum, discouraging pulling behavior. Front-clip harnesses are suitable for dogs of all sizes and can be particularly helpful during training sessions.

Step-In Harnesses

Step-in harnesses are designed to make the process of putting on and taking off the harness quick and easy. They have a handle positioned on the back and allow for a comfortable fit around your dog’s chest and belly. Step-in harnesses are convenient for dogs who are wary of having things put over their heads and are great for daily walks and outings.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Harness with a Handle

When selecting a harness with a handle, there are several factors to consider to ensure the best fit and functionality for your dog.

Size and Fit

Choosing the right size and fit is crucial to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. Measure your dog’s chest and neck circumference to determine the appropriate size. Make sure the harness fits snugly but is not too tight, allowing for free movement without causing discomfort.

Material and Durability

Look for harnesses made from durable materials that can withstand your dog’s daily activities. Consider the type of activities you engage in with your dog, such as hiking or swimming, and choose a harness that is suitable for those activities. Additionally, opt for a harness that is easy to clean, as dogs can get messy during outdoor adventures.

Comfort and Padding

A harness with a handle should provide comfort to your dog, especially during extended walks or activities. Look for harnesses with padding in areas that may rub against your dog’s skin, such as the chest and shoulders. This will help prevent any chafing or discomfort that could deter your dog from enjoying their time outdoors.

Training with a Harness Handle

Introducing your dog to a harness with a handle should be done gradually and with positive reinforcement techniques.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Using positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, can help your dog associate the harness with a positive experience. Start by letting your dog sniff and inspect the harness, rewarding them for calm behavior. Then, gradually and gently secure the harness, rewarding them throughout the process. This will help create a positive association with the harness and make your dog more comfortable wearing it.

Gradual Introduction and Familiarization

It’s important to gradually introduce your dog to the harness and allow them to become familiar with it. Start by having your dog wear the harness indoors for short periods of time, gradually increasing the duration. This will give them the opportunity to adjust to the sensation of wearing the harness and ensure they feel comfortable before venturing outdoors.

Consistency and Patience

Consistency is key when training your dog to use a harness with a handle. Use the harness consistently during walks or outings to reinforce the association between the handle and positive experiences. Be patient and understanding, as some dogs may take longer to adapt to wearing a harness. Always provide encouragement and rewards to motivate your dog during the training process.

Recommended Harnesses with Handles

Here are some highly recommended harnesses with handles that have proven to be reliable and effective:

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

The Ruffwear Front Range Harness offers excellent control and versatility. It features both front and back leash attachments, allowing you to choose the most suitable option for your dog’s walking style. With comfortable padding and a sturdy handle, this harness is a top choice for everyday activities and adventures.

Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness

The Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness is a durable and secure option for dogs of all sizes. The adjustable chest and neck straps ensure a customized fit, while the padded handle offers optimal comfort and control. This harness also includes a seatbelt tether attachment, making it a great choice for car rides.

Embark Adventure Dog Harness

The Embark Adventure Dog Harness is designed with both control and comfort in mind. It features a no-pull front attachment, reflective stitching for added visibility, and durable construction. The padded handle offers excellent grip and support, making it a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts and active dogs.

Alternatives to Harnesses with Handles

While harnesses with handles are a popular choice, there are alternative options available that may suit different preferences and requirements.

Collars and Leashes

Traditional collars and leashes are a common choice for dog owners who prefer a simpler and more minimalistic approach. However, they provide less control than harnesses with handles and may not be suitable for dogs that tend to pull or have neck-related issues.

Head Halters

Head halters, also known as head collars, are designed to gently guide your dog’s head and redirect their attention. They can be effective in controlling pulling behavior and may be a suitable alternative for dogs with handling issues or neck sensitivity. However, head halters require proper fitting and acclimation to ensure your dog’s comfort.

Body Harnesses without Handles

Body harnesses without handles are another alternative that may work for some dog owners. These harnesses typically focus on distributing pressure evenly across your dog’s body, reducing the strain on their neck and throat. While they lack the added control and guidance of a handle, they can still be effective in providing comfort and preventing pulling.

Harnesses with Handles for Specific Needs

Certain situations call for specialized harnesses with handles to cater to specific needs.

Assistance and Service Dogs

For assistance and service dogs, harnesses with handles are essential tools. These harnesses provide both control and support to assist individuals with disabilities. The handles allow handlers to guide and direct the dogs in performing tasks, providing greater independence and mobility.

Dogs with Mobility Issues

Dogs with mobility issues, such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, can benefit from harnesses with handles designed for extra support. These harnesses typically have additional padding and adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable and secure fit. The handles allow for easier lifting and assistance during walks and other activities.

Working and Sporting Dogs

Working and sporting dogs often require harnesses with handles to aid in their specific tasks. These harnesses are designed to withstand rigorous activities and provide optimal control. The handles allow handlers to direct the dogs during tasks such as search and rescue, agility training, or pulling carts.

Common Misconceptions about Harnesses with Handles

There are several common misconceptions surrounding the use of harnesses with handles.

Restrictive for Dogs

Some may believe that harnesses with handles restrict a dog’s movement or hinder their natural behavior. However, when properly fitted, these harnesses allow for free movement while providing the guidance and control necessary for a safe and enjoyable walk.

Only for Large or Strong Dogs

Harnesses with handles are not exclusive to large or strong dogs. They can benefit dogs of all sizes and breeds. From small, energetic pups to calm and gentle giants, any dog can benefit from the added control and stability that a handle provides.

Not Suitable for Walking or Running

Contrary to popular belief, harnesses with handles are suitable for a variety of activities, including regular walks and runs. The handle offers the flexibility to adjust your dog’s movements as needed, making them ideal for various outdoor adventures.

Tips for Using a Harness with Handle

To make the most of your harness with a handle, consider the following tips:

Proper Leash Attachment

Ensure that the leash is securely attached to the harness and properly adjusted. Check the connection regularly to avoid any unexpected disconnections during walks. Always use a leash that is appropriate for your dog’s size and strength.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

To extend the lifespan of your harness and ensure hygiene, clean it regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help prevent any buildup of dirt, odor, or bacteria, keeping your dog comfortable and healthy.

Monitoring for Signs of Discomfort

Pay attention to your dog’s behavior during and after walks. Look out for any signs of discomfort, such as rubbing or irritation, and adjust the harness if necessary. Regularly inspect the harness for any wear and tear, and replace it if needed to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety.


Using a harness with a handle can greatly enhance your dog-walking experience, providing improved control and stability, enhanced safety measures, and greater support and guidance. Consider the different types of harnesses available, and choose one that suits your dog’s needs and preferences. Remember to take factors like size and fit, material and durability, and comfort and padding into account when selecting a harness. Properly training your dog to wear the harness and using positive reinforcement techniques will help them adjust comfortably. By utilizing a harness with a handle, you can enjoy safe and enjoyable walks with your furry 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.