I recently attended a canine fitness seminar and had the pleasure of trying a lot of popular harnesses that are on the market today. When it comes to finding a harness for your dog, I recognize the struggle you may be faced with. Although I do spend a good amount of time teaching my dogs to walk loosely on the leash with a flat collar, there are times a harness is preferred. When I want to go on a walk and not focus on training or the formality of “walking” properly; I use a harness. Do you trail hike or bike with your dog? Obviously, a harness is the safest, most secure and comfortable way to connect your dog up to his leash.
As a Certified Canine Fitness Trainer, I want to encourage and see handlers with their dogs getting exercise in a fun manner. Using a proper fitting harness helps disperse pressure over a larger area of the body reducing strain on the neck, back and joints. A properly fit harness will reduce pulling and in turn increase your control over your dog. It’s a win win!
My criteria for a harness is that it must fit the dog on the end of your leash. Dogs are not the same height, weight and width therefore not all harnesses are the same either. A one size fits all harness is very unlikely. However, I did find one harness that fit all of the dogs that tried it on (same style harness, different sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL). This along with the stunning colors (who doesn’t like a little bling on their dog) caught my attention because, it’s rare that one style fits most. So needless to say, I was happy to be introduced to the freedom no-pull harness by 2 Hounds Design.
As I went to order my own freedom no-pull harness, I was excited to discover that 2 Hounds Design was started by one persons’ passion to design a properly fitting harness on her own dog. Although her company is much larger today than when she originally started, 2 Hounds Design is still located in North Carolina, (Made in the U.S.A.) and still remain committed to functional fit just as much as fashion.
An accurate measurement is needed before you head over to order this harness. Ideally you will use a cloth measuring tape, you will want to measure twice just to make sure. Afterall, we want the harness to fit like a glove not like a paper bag.
Why does fit matter so much? A well fit harness should not restrict your dog’s shoulders when walking or trotting. If the harness is to small, the restricted shoulder movement can cause muscle soreness and lead to injuries. It should fit snugly so that it doesn’t shift in and out of place when there is tension on the leash. The material needs to be soft and flexible so that you don’t mat a lush coat or rub short haired breeds raw.
Needless to say, I absolutely love everything about the freedom no-pull harness. There is a secure loop on the back of the harness which acts similar to a martingale collar. It will slightly tighten as the dog pulls which is a nice feature if your dog believes he’s trying out for the Iditarod. For those of you who like options or have a very enthusiastic walking (pulling) dog, there is a front chest clip as well. Clipping to the front ring is optional, not required. However, if you’re using a harness because of pulling you will want to clip to the front ring and back ring simultaneously. Used in this manner, you can more easily help your dog make better choices when on a walk.
Fitting your dog
Around the Neck
You will want to take your cloth tape measurer and wrap it around the thickest part of your dog’s neck. To avoid getting a harness to tight be sure you can put two fingers between the tape and the neck. As seen here:
Around the Chest
Take the cloth tape measurer and wrap it around the widest part of your dog’s chest. Usually this is just behind the front legs. As seen here: