Few veterinarians will downplay the importance of walking your dog on a regular basis. In addition to burning off excess calories and lowering your dog’s risk of disease, taking Fido for a daily stroll provides them with tons of mental stimulation that helps keep their stress levels low and their brains limber.
However, what’s still up for debate is the type of equipment you use to walk your dog. While many still subscribe to the classic dog collar-and-leash combo, more and more dog owners are now turning to cute dog harnesses to keep their furry friends safely tethered. But why, exactly? What does a dog harness have that a plain-old dog collar doesn’t? Read on to learn the seven benefits of buckling your dog into a harness before your next walk.
1. Harnesses Put Less Pressure on Your Dog’s Neck
Does your dog lunge at squirrels on walks? Does it sound like they’re gasping for air the entire time? If so, your dog’s collar and leash are no doubt putting undue strain on his neck. The neck is a super-sensitive area for most animals, and dogs are no exception. Even if your pup walks nicely on the leash 80 percent of the time, the occasional jerk of the leash from you can cause lasting damage to their neck and throat. Harnesses fix this problem by taking the pressure off the neck area and redistributing it to your dog’s torso. Not only is this more comfortable for your dog, but it also significantly reduces the risk of injury — particularly in brachycephalic dog breeds, like pugs and Boston terriers.
2. Harnesses Can Help Reduce Pulling
Let’s face it, getting dragged on the leash the entire time (or even half of the time) isn’t fun. If you’re sick and tired of your dog taking you for walks and not the other way around, using a no-pull dog harness can be a total game-changer. As the name suggests, this particular type of dog harness limits your pup’s ability to tug at the leash. No-pull harnesses clip at the front of the harness, which takes the tugging advantage away from your dog and discourages them from pulling on the lead.
Once you’ve taken away their ability to tug hard on the lead, you can then focus on teaching your dog good leash manners. This will ensure that your pup doesn’t revert back to their old, tug-heavy ways when the harness isn’t being used.
3. Harnesses Provide Better Control Over Your Dog
If you have a large breed dog — Bernese Mountain Dog, Alaskan Malamute, Doberman, etc. — then you’re probably familiar with their impressive strength. All it takes is one glimpse of a squirrel or a rabbit and they’re tugging with all their might on the leash, dragging you along with them. Even some smaller dogs can display a surprising amount of strength that leaves their owners with scraped hands and knees.
Dog harnesses minimize your dog’s pulling, giving you better control over your big dog and making walks safer for both of you. More specifically, dog harnesses redirect your dog’s momentum to the side, which helps even the playing field.
Of course, a dog harness may not counter a large dog’s strength completely. To keep your walks as safe as possible, you’ll still want to train your big dog to listen to your commands and walk nicely on a leash.
4. Harnesses Keep Your Pup Safe and Secure
If you have a little escape artist on your hands, a well-fitting dog harness is a must-have for your squirmy canine. Ill-fitting dog collars can provide just enough room for your dog to slip out during walks, whereas dog harnesses tend to be safer and more secure thanks to their multiple openings and buckles. Even if your dog did somehow manage to slip one paw out of their harness (an obvious sign that you have the wrong size harness), you’d likely notice and put a stop to their antics long before they were able to completely break free.
5. Harnesses Decrease the Likelihood of Getting Tangled in the Leash
Does it sometimes feel as though you’re constantly bending down to untangle your dog from the leash? We’ve all been there before. While having your dog wear a harness doesn’t guarantee a tangle-free walk, it can make your dog less likely to get tripped up in his leash. That’s because tangling tends to happen when your dog walks in front of you. By using a front-clip harness (aka, a no-pull harness), you can encourage your dog to walk by your side, thereby reducing the likelihood of them getting hopelessly tangled in the leash.
6. Harnesses Can Elevate Your Dog’s Style
If you’re going to spend the money on a dog harness, why not pick one with some flair? From classic stripes and checkered patterns to quirky dinosaur and donut prints, modern dog harnesses come in an array of fun designs that will instantly elevate your pup’s style. For the holidays, consider outfitting your dog in a harness with a festive design (think mistletoe for Christmas and fireworks for the Fourth of July). If you want to maximize your dog’s everyday style, opt for a reversible dog harness that features two interchangeable designs for double the fun. These days, the style options for your pup are virtually limitless!
7. Harnesses Help Your Pup Stay Healthy
You love your furry friend more than you can put into words, which is why you want them to live a long, healthy life. Going for daily strolls with your dog can help them maintain a healthy weight and provide mental stimulation that keeps them emotionally and behaviorally healthy.
Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t walk their dogs regularly due to their relentless pulling. This continued lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, boredom and other problems that greatly reduce both the quantity and quality of your dog’s lifespan.
The right dog harness can help eliminate or reduce the behaviors you find frustrating, which means you’re more likely to take Fido out for regular strolls. As an added bonus, you’ll be healthier, too!
Dog Harnesses for the Win
Whether you’re trying to teach your dog how to walk nicely on a leash, prevent neck injuries or freshen up your pup’s style, a dog harness can be a wonderful addition to your training arsenal. Remember to introduce the harness properly to help your dog build a positive association with it. That way, your dog will always come running when it’s time for a walk!