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How to Put on a Dog Harness?

How to Put on a Dog Harness?

Many people have bad experiences with dog harnesses due to improper use. Even though putting a strap on a dog seems pretty easy and simple, it’s usually not the case, especially if you don’t have any prior experience with this type of pet accessories.

Not using a harness the way it’s meant to be used may cause serious health issues for your furry friend. For example, if you tighten it too much, there is a serious risk of contusion and organ damage for your pet. The trickiest thing is to understand what your dog is trying to tell you. You have to be familiar with your pet’s needs and comfort zones.

If you follow some of our advice, there is a good chance that you’ll manage to overcome some issues and make your dog feel comfortable and cozy.

Be Careful How You Choose the Size – It has to fit

Before we cover the steps for proper use of dog straps, you need to pay attention to this one. In fact, there isn’t much to talk about – just make sure the strap fits your dog perfectly because if it doesn’t – there is no method that can help you overcome the problem.

Step-into models


dog wearing step in harness

Before you put a step-into harness on your pet, you need to check if it has markers for left and right side. Some models do, others don’t; it’s a matter of design. If it is marked, make sure you position it correctly so that the left and right legs go into the correct side of the harness. On the other hand, if it’s not marked, it means it’s a universal fit.

Whenever you want to put the strap on your pet, the best and easiest way to do it is to lay the harness on the ground. After that, walk your pet over it and place each of its paws into the right holes. Once you’ve positioned the legs, all you have to do is pull it around its chest and buckle up. Be sure to check the tightness and make proper adjustments if it’s too tight or loose.

Overhead models


frenchy in overhead dog harness

As far as the complexity goes, overhead models are much simpler compared to the step-into ones. In fact, these are the most wide-spread models on the market, and a vast majority of canine owners prefer it over the other one.

You should start by unbuckling the harness and planning the best way to put it around your pet. If you find it difficult to comprehend the buckling principles, don’t hesitate to check the user manual out. Some straps don’t come with an included manual, but a simple Google search should solve the issue.

Pay special attention to the position of the D-Ring. We talked about it in one of our previous articles and pointed out the hazards of improper D-Ring positioning. It should always be positioned in the center of your dog’s back or chest.

After you’ve adjusted the buckles, slide the strap over your pet’s head, and it should fit perfectly. The way you can check if it fits is to slip two fingers between the body and the strap. If you don’t manage to do it – that means it’s too tight.

Why is all of this important?

As we already said, health issues are a real concern when it comes to utilizing this accessory. Canine mammals have sensitive organs which are not as protected as you might think. While they do have ribs and bones that are designed to protect the inner parts, those bones are usually thin and quite fragile. For example, if you put on the harness too tight and make a sudden pull with the leash, you can break your pet’s ribs, especially if you own a smaller breed.

Apart from health hazards, there are some behavior issues you could stumble upon. The main problem is the fact that you cannot ask or speak with your pet to see if they feel comfortable. Instead, you have to pay attention to their body language. If you’re familiar with it, then you won’t have too many issues. However, people who recently bought a puppy and want to take it for a walk can experience some problems with understanding the level of comfort their pet is in. It’s important for you to know exactly how your pet feels in order to understand whether you’ve put the strap on in a proper manner.

When talking about these issues, many people don’t think about how their pets feel. If there’s no comfort involved, you can rest assured that it’s going to cause trauma to the animal. Consequently, it won’t want to go for walks nor will it be excited about going out and socializing with other dogs. Even though it sounds unusual – it’s not about you, it’s about your dog.

Other things you should do

Before going for a walk, make sure everything fits well. Also, double-check the buckles to ensure everything is tight and locked. A lot of people avoid checking the buckles and end up chasing their pets down the street because they slipped out. Although it can be an interesting adventure, it’s also a great hazard, especially if there’s high traffic around. Therefore, make sure everything is assembled correctly.

dog strap we recommend - ruffwear adventure

The conclusion

As you can see, it’s quite important that you master the basic principles or putting a harness on a dog. It may seem easy, but it’s actually quite important, and it can sometimes make a difference between life and death.

There are several ways which you can use to make your dog as comfortable as possible, depending on the type of the harness. On the other hand, the number one rule is – comfort, regardless of the strap type. If your precious furry friend doesn’t feel comfortable, everything else is in vain.

It’s not hard to comprehend the way these things work as long as you follow a set of ground rules. In the end, you have to remember that it’s not about you and your subjective feeling but your pet’s.

About The Author

Larry Gilliam

I am a proud owner of two wonderful dogs - Ginger and Toby. And they are the main reason I've decided to raise awareness about the importance of proper pet care.

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