Let’s talk about dog training equipment. The first piece of equipment I would like to discuss is the dog harness. We get more questions about dog harnesses than any other piece of equipment. But first I would like to dispel a few common misconceptions about dog harnesses.
Number 1. A lot of people want a dog harness because their dog pulls while walking and they want a harness to stop the pulling and give them more “control.” The fact is most dog harnesses are designed to alleviate pressure from key areas allowing the dog to pull more easily. The exact opposite of what they want to achieve. In general, a harness does this by moving the pressure point from the neck to the chest/shoulders and widening the impact area to dissipate stress. That is why a harness typically has a wide chest strap, a padded chest plate and straps that angle across the shoulders. A dog harness also typically has a handle on top as well as a d-ring for attaching your leash. Which brings us to myth number 2.
Number 2. A harness gives you more control. Actually a dog harness can give you less control of your dog. Why? Because the handle and/or d-ring for the leash is located on top of the harness behind the dogs shoulders. This leaves the dogs head, neck and feet free to twist and turn, jump and wiggle anyway they want. And anyone that has ever tried to hold a twisting, turning, lunging dog stable by grabbing the handle on a harness knows it is a difficult task at best.
Number 3. Another question we get constantly is which harness will fit my dog from puppy to adult. And the answer is generally none. Unless of course your dog is going to stay the same size from 6 months to 6 years. For example, do you wear the same size shirt or shoes that you did when you were a child, young adult and adult. Probably not… So no matter what style of harness you choose, we have different sizes that are intended to not only fit the different breeds of dogs but also the different stages of growth in the same dog. Now that said, dogs tend to grow very rapidly from 6 months to 1 year, a little slower from 1 year to 2 years and by 2 years old they have usually reached their adult size. They may continue to “fill out” after 2 years but generally they don’t get any taller. So if you are purchasing a harness for a younger dog and want to plan for future growth, you may be able to get away with one size larger, knowing that you may have to add an extra hole or two to make it fit properly.
In the next segment on dog harnesses, I will talk about what harnesses are good for and which style of harness is best suited for a particular use (protection dog harness, tracking dog harness, service dog vest, etc.)