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Harmonious Dog Walks Ahead: A Guide to Dog Harnesses

Dog walks are a cherished part of the day for many dogs and their guardians. Unfortunately, an enthusiastic puller can turn this daily dose of exercise into a tug-of-war. Enter the dog harness, a safe and comfortable alternative to a traditional collar that offers greater control and reduces strain on your pup's neck. With so many harness varieties on the market, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. Fear not, fellow dog lovers! Harmonious Dog Walks Ahead: A Guide to Dog Harnesses breaks down the most common harness types, highlighting their pros and cons to help you find the perfect fit for you and your best fur-end.

Harmonious Dog Walks Ahead: The Back-Clip Harness

A Guide to Dog Harnesses

The back-clip harness, with its leash attachment point on the dog's back, is a popular and versatile option.

  • Pros:  Easy to put on and use, making it a great choice for dogs and owners new to harnesses. These harnesses are also comfortable for dogs and allow a full range of motion. Because the leash clips in the back, they're a good option for dogs who don't pull, or for sniffing-heavy walks where loose leash walking isn't a priority. Some back-clip harnesses can even double as car harnesses, making them a convenient all-in-one solution to reduce distracted driving while transporting dogs.

  • Cons:  Back-clip harnesses don't do much to discourage pulling, and can even make it easier for some dogs to forge ahead. For larger, strong pullers, this can lead to frustrating walks. And, because the human is competing between the dog's center of gravity and weight, back clip harnesses could do nothing to protect you from a fall if you have a strong puller on your hands.

Harmonious Dog Walks Ahead: The Front-Clip Harness

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The front-clip harness features a leash attachment point on the dog's chest. This design gently discourages pulling by steering the dog towards you when they lunge. In other words, the pull is redirected back to the leash and handler as opposed to competing with it like you see with back-clip harnesses.

  • Pros:  Excellent for training leash manners and preventing pulling. The front-clip design gently redirects your dog's attention back towards you when they pull, making walks more manageable. These harnesses are also a good option for dogs with breathing difficulties, as they don't put pressure on the neck or trachea.

  • Cons:  Front-clip harnesses can restrict a dog's natural shoulder movement if not fitted properly. Some dogs may find the constant redirecting sensation unpleasant. For hikes or adventures, a back-clip harness might be more comfortable for unrestricted movement. And, there is some concern with shoulder injury when using these kinds of harnesses, especially on younger dogs. Here is a deep dive into harnesses and their musculoskeletal impacts.

Harmonious Dog Walks Ahead: The Dual-Clip Harness

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The dual-clip harness offers leash attachment points on both the back and the chest, providing versatility for different situations.

  • Pros: Offers the ability to switch between back-clip and front-clip depending on your needs. The back clip is great for relaxed walks, while the front clip can be used for training or controlling pulling. This versatility makes it a good choice for dogs with varying leash manners.

  • Cons:  It can be trickier to put these harnesses on and to adjust them when compared to a single-clip harness. Having too many straps may be confusing or irritating for some dogs and their guardians.

Harmonious Dog Walks Ahead: Head Halters

Head halters look like a gentle muzzle and harness combination. They clip to the dog's leash at the snout, gently redirecting their head when they pull.

  • Pros:  Effective in deterring pulling. Head halters can reduce pulling from first use.

  • Cons:  Requires careful introduction to ensure the dog feels comfortable because it goes over a very sensitive part of the muzzle. Improper use can rub or irritate the dog's face and neck. Head halters are not recommended for brachycephalic (short-faced) dog breeds, dogs with arthritis, or those that have had a bad experience using one of these tools. Many dogs will paw at their face incessantly when wearing a head halter, which obviously affects their ability to enjoy walks while wearing this equipment.

Please note that head halters are not muzzles. They do not prevent dog bites or keep your dog from eating stuff while on dog walks.

Harmonious Dog Walks Ahead: Choosing the Right Harness for Your Dog

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With so many options, picking the right harness boils down to your dog's needs and temperament. Consider these factors:

  • Size and Breed:  A harness should fit snugly but comfortably, with no rubbing or chafing. Choose a harness designed for your dog's size and breed. Google a breed-specific blog for advice and best practices for your dog's physical build.

  • Activity Level:  For active dogs, a padded harness with good breathability is ideal. Be sure to consider your climate and high/low temperatures when deciding which harness to bring along on your dog-friendly adventures.

  • Pulling Tendencies:  The best option for high-pull dogs is loose-leash training using positive reinforcement. The Karen Pryor Academy has a great tutorial here. Strong pullers should always be walked on a harness because pulling while the leash is attached to a collar can cause serious throat and tracheal damage.

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Remember, the best harness is the one that keeps your dog safe, comfortable, and happy while making walks enjoyable for both of you. So experiment, find the perfect fit, and get ready to hit the pavement with your furry friend! And, avoid clipping retractable leashes to your harnesses. Rectractable leashes may do more harm than good! Read more here.

dog walking pet sitting st. louis house of paws

At House of Paws, we are happy to work with your dog's preferred harness during midday dog walks and dog sitting visits. If, however, we find that the equipment you use may not be the best match for your dog, we will discuss other options with you. Our goal is always to keep pets safe in our care while offering our human clients solutions that improve time spent with their pets.

To learn more about our dog walking, dog adventure, and dog sitting services, contact us at

(314) 690-5154 or email If you're ready to book services in one of our service areas submit a new client form to begin our registration process.

House of Paws proudly serves Eureka, Wildwood, Ballwin, Manchester, Maryland Heights, Des Peres, Fenton, Chesterfield, Valley Park, Ladue, Creve Couer, Town & Country, Kirkwood, Sunset Hills, Clayton, Webster Groves, Maplewood, The Hill, South City & Affton.

We look forward to caring for your paws-itively perfect pups!


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