There’s so many harnesses on the market, but they aren’t all the same. Here are some factors to consider when shopping for the right harness for your dog.
Starting with the most important factor: safety. At the end of the day, a harness' primary role is to keep your dog attached to the lead on a walk. You might think that all harnesses can manage this basic function - but depending on your dog this might not be the case!
How can I tell if a harness is safe for my dog?
One of the most popular style of dog harness on the market are the mesh and neoprene basic and/or fashion harnesses. These harnesses are usually cute with fun patterns and prints and although they’re strong enough for a very small non-reactive dog who doesn’t pull a lot - they are prone to snapping under the force of larger breeds especially if they pull or are prone to lunging and reacting
* image sent anonymously by a customer. Image blurred to ensure brand anonymity
When shopping for a harness for a dog who is prone to lunging, pulling or for a large breed, strength testing is a necessity. Twiggy Tags harnesses are tensile strength tested for safety. Each size is tested twice and their breaking strength averaged. Each and every harness tests over 200kg - this is stronger than the heaviest dog to have ever existed - an English Mastiff called Zorba who weighed in at a hefty 155kg.
When considering how safe your dog’s harness is, you also need to look at the shape of the harness - specifically the front. Canine physio experts recommend always choosing a harness with a Y-shape front. This is because the other kind of harness - usually advertised as H-shaped, T-shaped, Norwegian style harness or “no-pull” - sits directly across a dog’s shoulders in the front, restricting the range of movement in the legs when they’re walking and especially when they’re running. This interesting video below from BSVH Hydrotherapy shows a dog walking without a harness, with a Norwegian style harness and with a Y-fronted harness. Notice how much the Norwegian style inhibits movement?
Every single Twiggy Tags harness has a Y-front shape. Our Adventure Harnesses remain strong and sturdy whilst ensuring dogs have full range of motion whether they’re running after a ball, scrambling up a tall mountain hike or springing across a river like Twiggy.
Well, if I can’t use a “no-pull” harness for my dog, what can I do to help my dog’s pulling?
We hear you and we got you! The thing is - “no-pull” harnesses don’t actually stop your dog from pulling! They just cause discomfort and inhibit movement. Unfortunately pulling on the lead is not something that can be quickly fixed with any dog gear, it’s something that needs training and practice (keep an eye out soon for training tips & tricks!)
However, if you struggle to manage your dog when they’re pulling or lunging, Twiggy Tags Adventure Harnesses have a D-ring on the front and the back of the harness. A lead can be attached temporarily to the front which redirects the dog to look back around at you during short training sessions. We do not recommend using this method if your dog continues to pull or for long periods of time. If you use a double ended training lead these can be attached to the front AND the back D-ring - this is especially helpful when managing a large or very strong dog.
My dog has a deep chest and a small neck; how can I get a harness to fit?
Dachshunds, bulldogs, sighthounds, rescues… we hear you!
Adjustability is a huge factor in a properly fitting harness. The key features to look out for in an adjustable harness is: multiple points of adjustment, either an adjustable chest plate or enough overlap between sizes that you can size up for the longer chest plate if you need to (this is the part that will rub a dog’s armpits if it too small for a deeper chest!) and most importantly a large variety of sizes. A harness that only comes in small-medium isn’t helpful for most dogs!
The Twiggy Tags Adventure Harness has four adjustment points: on both sides of the chest and both sides of the neck. The harness has been designed for every dog, for every adventure. This means that there is so much adjustment in each size that the majority of dogs can fit into more than one size - this way if a dog has a small neck but a deep chest they can go for the bigger of the two sizes and have no rubbing under the armpits but the neck can still be adjusted to be tight and secure!
But my dog hates harnesses!
There are a few factors that are involved in getting your dog happy with their harness! Sometimes training is needed to help your dog slowly overcome their aversion, however the best place to start is by looking at the harness itself and seeing if any physical factors are making your dog uncomfortable.
We have already covered the difference between a Y-front and a Norwegian style harness above, and how a tight harness with a strap across the shoulders can make a dog feel uncomfortable and averse to wearing their harness; but what if your harness is already Y-fronted but your dog still runs away as soon as you say “walkies?”
One of the most common reasons for a dog to not like their harness is because it has to go over their head. Dogs as a general rule often feel intimidated by things coming toward their head and face, and this is amplified with the tight neck holes on step-in harnesses often squeezing their ears down when it’s put on. We’ve noticed this especially in longer-eared breeds such as Spaniels and Hounds!
A really great place to start if you think the small neck hole going over your dogs head could be scaring them is to try a harness that doesn’t need to go over the head. Our Adventure Harnesses feature three buckles, two around the chest, and one around the neck - this means you can clip the harness on without anything going over your dog’s head
We can almost guarantee that your dog will definitely be happier without their heads shoved through a small gap but sometimes that isn’t enough and dogs need a little extra help! Keep an eye out for a post really soon for some helpful hints and tips to getting your dog more comfy in their walking gear!