The final style of dog harness we will discuss has some type of padded chest plate and is designed for strong pulling. There are variations in the actual padded chest plate design but in general, they have 3 points of contact (one over each shoulder and one between the front legs) which connect the chest plate to the back of the harness. Chest plates are typically made of leather or nylon and have some type of padding like heavy felt. The back of the harness usually consists of a belly/side strap and a handle with a d-ring on top.
The reason why this type of harness is so popular is the padded chest plate allows the dog pull vigorously into the harness while not restricting the dogs breathing or barking, making them ideal for protection dog training. The key to this type of harness is in the 3 point connection which distributes the force across the chest. This allows the dog to be easily restrained from one point (the handle or the d-ring) and direct all of the energy forward. The belly and side straps are really only there to position the top portion in the center of the dogs back.
These types of harnesses are easy to put on and take off and we’ve actually made it even easier by using quick release buckles on the side straps. Once you have adjusted the belly/side straps based on the girth of your dog, you just slip it over the dogs head and quickly snap up the side straps. It is a very simple, quick and strong system. You may also hear these types of padded, quick release dog harnesses referred to as protection dog harnesses, tracking dog harnesses or even strap harnesses.
This concludes our discussion on dog harnesses and covers approximately 90% of the dog harnesses out there. Of course there are more types of harnesses like sling harnesses, lift harnesses and jump harnesses for tactical maneuvers or search and rescue and we can discuss those another time. However, there is one additional type of harness which is definitely worth mentioning and that is a hybrid or dual purpose harness. A dual purpose dog harness combines the back vest portion from a patrol harness with the 3 point padded chest plate of a protection dog harness. It is a very popular dog harness, especially with law enforcement and the military because it combines the best of both types of harnesses.