How to Put a Harness on a Dog

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A harness can be a helpful tool in keeping your dog safe and secure while going on walks. With several types of harnesses out there to choose from, many with different attachment techniques, applying one can be challenging. To put a harness on your dog, start by measuring your dog to find the right size harness for her, follow the written instructions that came with the item, and keep your dog calm when applying.

Understanding dog collars and harnesses

In order to effectively attach a harness onto your dog, you'll have to familiarize yourself with the different types of harnesses and apply them accordingly. Dog collars and harnesses come in a range of shapes, including vest cuts, Easy Walks, and adjustable strap harnesses, which are the most common types. Finding the right harness for your dog will depend on her needs, your concerns, and your budget, although there is certainly something available for everyone.

Vest harnesses are fairly heavy-duty varieties and are commonly worn by working dogs, like hunting dogs or guide dogs, and cover much of a dog's torso. An Easy Walk harness is designed to clip in the front, which prevents or reduces pulling in dogs and is very helpful for strong dogs or dogs who frequently walk in cities or around potential distractions. The adjustable strap harness is the most common and helps to control and secure a dog by evenly distributing the weight.

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Finding the right fit

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Putting a harness on your dog is made much easier when the harness in question fits your dog. Every harness will come with different measurements, but most will be in the same ballpark which will make purchasing your harness easier. To measure your dog for a harness, you'll need a measuring tape to calculate the girth of his neck, his topline (or the length of his back,) and the girth of his chest. Harnesses will usually include adjustable straps to allow for an even more precise fit.

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To measure the topline, run a tape measure down the length of your dog's back from the base of his neck to the base of his tail while he's in the standing position. The base positions are located at the points where the neck or tail meets the body. Next, use the tape measure to record your dog's neck size by positioning it where a collar would rest, and leave room for two fingers to fit between the tape measure and your dog. Do the same thing to measure the chest, covering the fullest part of his rib cage, which is usually just an inch or two away from where his arms meet his body.

Putting a harness on

The application of a harness will depend on the type of harness you've chosen for your dog. A very common type of harness is the adjustable harness by Top Paw, which comes in a classic harness shape that hugs a dog's body and connects to a leash at the top of the back. Top Paw adjustable harness instructions are fairly easy to follow.

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To start, insert your dog's head into the hole located on one end of the harness, which will rest around your dog's neck. Once her head is in the neck loop, take the long strap that's connected to the loop and run it down her chest so that it rests between her two front legs. Take the thinner straps, which will have snap enclosures on either end, and wrap them up and around her body so that they meet toward the top of her back. Run the longer strap through the small loop connected to the piece that's resting along her topline, connect the two pieces, and adjust the straps until it fits securely but is not too tight.

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Another common harness type that can be confusing to apply is the Easy Walk, which contains four straps in two different colors. To attach one of these harnesses to your dog, start by clipping two of the like colors together so that it makes a loop, then place that loop over your dog's head so it rests on her neck. Then, take one of the straps of the other color and run it under her front legs, which would be the equivalent of our armpits. Bring the other strap of the same color so that both straps connect under her arm, and adjust straps accordingly.

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