which is better for a dog who pulls a front or back clip harness
which is better for a dog who pulls a front or back clip harness

In the ongoing quest to make our furry friends more comfortable on their walks, dog owners often find themselves grappling with the age-old question: which type of harness is better for a dog who pulls – a front or back clip harness? With differing opinions and a wide array of options available, we set out to explore the pros and cons of each type. So, buckle up and join us on a journey to discover the ideal harness for our beloved pups.


Harnesses are popular tools for dog owners to control and manage their pets during walks. When it comes to choosing the right harness, there are two main options to consider: front clip harnesses and back clip harnesses. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, and the decision between the two ultimately depends on your dog’s needs and behavior. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of both front and back clip harnesses, as well as considerations for choosing the right harness for your furry friend.

Benefits of a Front Clip Harness

Provides better control

One of the key benefits of a front clip harness is the enhanced control it offers to dog owners. With the attachment located on the chest area, the harness redirects the dog’s attention towards the owner, making it easier to guide them during walks. This increased control can be particularly useful for dogs that pull or lunge, as it allows owners to redirect their movements and prevent unwanted behavior.

Reduces pulling behavior

Front clip harnesses are specifically designed to discourage pulling behavior in dogs. By utilizing the attachment at the front of the chest, the harness causes the dog to turn towards the owner when they attempt to pull ahead. This redirection helps to break the habit of pulling and encourages a more controlled walking experience. Over time, consistent use of a front clip harness can lead to a significant reduction in pulling behavior.

Encourages better walking posture

Another advantage of front clip harnesses is their ability to encourage better walking posture in dogs. When attached to the chest, these harnesses naturally guide the dog to walk with a straighter spine and their head up. This not only promotes a more comfortable and sustainable walking position for the dog but also helps to align their body correctly, reducing the risk of strain or injury.

Drawbacks of a Front Clip Harness

May cause discomfort

While front clip harnesses offer numerous benefits, they may not be suitable for all dogs. Some dogs may find the pressure on their chest or shoulders uncomfortable, especially when first transitioning to a harness. It is important to monitor your dog’s comfort level and make any necessary adjustments or seek alternative options if discomfort persists.

May put strain on shoulders and neck

In certain cases, the use of a front clip harness can potentially put strain on a dog’s shoulders and neck. Dogs that tend to pull excessively, despite the redirection provided by the harness, may experience discomfort or strain in these areas. Additionally, dogs that have pre-existing shoulder or neck issues should be carefully evaluated by a veterinarian to determine whether a front clip harness is suitable for them.

Benefits of a Back Clip Harness

Easy to put on and take off

One of the main advantages of a back clip harness is its simplicity in terms of putting it on and taking it off. With the attachment point located on the back, near the shoulder blades, it is easier to slip over a dog’s head and secure it in place. This convenience is particularly beneficial for dog owners who have limited dexterity or struggle with the intricacies of fastening a harness.

May be more comfortable for some dogs

Back clip harnesses provide a comfortable walking experience for many dogs. With the leash attached to the back, there is no pressure on the chest or shoulders, allowing for more freedom of movement. Dogs that dislike the sensation of a front clip harness or have sensitivities in the chest area may find a back clip harness to be a more comfortable and suitable option.

Reduces pressure on neck and trachea

Back clip harnesses are designed to distribute pressure evenly across a dog’s body, reducing the strain on their neck and trachea. This can be particularly important for dogs with respiratory issues or breeds that are prone to tracheal collapse. By avoiding pressure on the neck, back clip harnesses help to keep the airways clear and minimize potential breathing difficulties.

Drawbacks of a Back Clip Harness

Less control over pulling behavior

One of the main drawbacks of a back clip harness is its reduced control over pulling behavior. Unlike front clip harnesses, which redirect the dog’s attention towards the owner, back clip harnesses simply allow the dog to continue pulling without any significant consequences. This lack of control can make it more challenging to correct and manage pulling behaviors during walks.

Could reinforce pulling habit

In some cases, the use of a back clip harness can inadvertently reinforce the habit of pulling. Dogs that are already prone to pulling may find it easier to continue pulling when there is no redirection or discomfort involved. It is important to note that back clip harnesses are not intended as a training tool for dogs with pulling behaviors and may not be effective in correcting this behavior.

May encourage uneven gait

Back clip harnesses can sometimes lead to an uneven gait in dogs, particularly those that have a tendency to pull or have imbalances in their musculature. With the leash attached to the back, dogs may be more inclined to lean forward or to one side, resulting in an uneven distribution of weight and potentially causing discomfort or strain. Regular observation and evaluation of your dog’s gait can help identify any issues that may arise from using a back clip harness.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Harness

When choosing between a front clip and back clip harness, there are several important factors to consider to ensure the best fit for your dog’s needs:

Dog’s size and breed

The size and breed of your dog are crucial considerations when selecting a harness. Different breeds may have unique body structures and sizes, which can affect the fit and effectiveness of the harness. It is essential to choose a harness that is appropriate for your dog’s size and breed to ensure optimal comfort and functionality.

Walking habits and behavior

Consider your dog’s walking habits and behavior. If your dog tends to pull or lunge during walks, a front clip harness may be more suitable to provide better control and discourage pulling behavior. On the other hand, if your dog is well-behaved and already walks calmly on a leash, a back clip harness may be a comfortable choice that allows for more freedom of movement.

Training techniques

If you are actively training your dog to walk on a leash or are using specific training techniques, the type of harness you choose can impact your training efforts. Front clip harnesses can provide additional leverage for steering and redirecting your dog’s attention, making them beneficial for training purposes. On the other hand, back clip harnesses may be more suitable if you want to focus on allowing your dog more independence during walks.

Which Dogs Benefit More from a Front Clip Harness?

Front clip harnesses are particularly beneficial for certain types of dogs, including:

Dogs prone to pulling or lunging

If your dog has a tendency to pull or lunge during walks, a front clip harness can provide you with better control to redirect their movements and discourage pulling behavior. The attachment at the chest significantly reduces the dog’s ability to pull forward, making walks more manageable and enjoyable for both you and your pet.

Strong and energetic dogs

Front clip harnesses are especially advantageous for strong and energetic dogs. These types of dogs often have a lot of pulling force, which can make walks challenging and exhausting. With a front clip harness, you can direct their energy towards you and prevent them from overpowering you during walks.

Dogs in training

For dogs undergoing training, a front clip harness can be a valuable tool. The enhanced control and steering capabilities provided by the harness can aid in training sessions and reinforce desired walking behaviors. It allows trainers to redirect the dog’s attention effectively and reward positive behavior, ultimately helping the dog learn proper walking etiquette.

Which Dogs Benefit More from a Back Clip Harness?

Back clip harnesses are better suited for certain types of dogs, including:

Easy-going and well-behaved dogs

If your dog already walks calmly on a leash and does not exhibit pulling behavior, a back clip harness can provide them with a comfortable walking experience. It allows them to walk naturally, without any restrictions on their movement. Back clip harnesses are ideal for dogs that simply need a way to secure the leash while enjoying their walks.

Dogs with respiratory issues

Dogs with respiratory issues, such as brachycephalic breeds, benefit greatly from back clip harnesses. By avoiding pressure on the neck and trachea, these harnesses alleviate potential breathing difficulties and ensure a safer walking experience. It is crucial to prioritize the well-being and comfort of dogs with respiratory issues, and a back clip harness can help in achieving that.

Small or toy breeds

Smaller breeds, such as toy breeds, often have delicate structures and may find front clip harnesses uncomfortable or restrictive. Back clip harnesses offer a more comfortable and suitable option for these dogs, allowing them to move freely without any discomfort. Choosing a harness that is specifically designed for smaller breeds ensures the perfect fit and the optimal walking experience.

Combining Front and Back Clip Harnesses

In some cases, using a combination of both front and back clip harnesses can be beneficial for certain dogs and specific situations. The combination approach provides a balanced solution that combines the benefits of both types of harnesses.

Using both harnesses together

By utilizing both front and back clip harnesses, you can have greater control over your dog’s behavior during walks. Start with a front clip harness to manage pulling behavior and redirect their focus towards you. Once your dog has improved their walking behavior and no longer pulls excessively, you can switch to a back clip harness to provide them with more freedom of movement.

Alternating between front and back clip harnesses

Another option is to alternate between front and back clip harnesses depending on the situation. Use a front clip harness during training sessions or in busy environments where more control is necessary. Switch to a back clip harness during casual walks or in less crowded areas where your dog has proven their ability to walk calmly on a leash.


When it comes to choosing between a front clip harness and a back clip harness, there is no definitive answer as to which is better. Each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and the decision ultimately depends on your dog’s needs, behavior, and individual preferences. Consider their size, breed, walking habits, and any training techniques you are employing. Whether you opt for a front clip harness, a back clip harness, or a combination of both, the most important thing is to prioritize your dog’s comfort, safety, and enjoyment during walks.

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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.