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“A hard-wearing everyday tableware made of robust ripstop fabric.”
“Robust clothing for hiking with a lifting handle, reflective trim and many adjustments.”
“The soft mesh harness is breathable and light.”
“The harness recommended by the trainer has two connection points for additional control.”
“This front clip harness for pulling dogs is easy to use and comes in eight sizes.”
“These simple dishes made from hemp and organic cotton are easy to wash.”
“One of only three harnesses that have passed the Center for Pet Safety crash tests.”
When you and your buddy are out for a walk, using a harness is safer and more convenient than just tying a leash to a collar.
“Harnesses take the strain off your neck and change where the dog gets resistance,” says certified dog trainer and animal behaviorist Susie Aga, owner of Atlanta Dog Trainer. Harnesses give you better control and prevent your dog from jerking off painfully when he sees something tempting that catches his eye, like another dog or a squirrel shooting across your path.
“If your dog doesn’t pull, pretty much any harness will work,” says Aga. “Just make sure it fits properly.” It needs to be firm enough so that it doesn’t ride into your dog’s windpipe or fall between your dog’s legs. If in doubt, call or talk to the manufacturer or visit a trainer.
Here are the best dog harnesses:
Overall best: Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness
Kurgo has many strap options, but this is a great basic choice for everyday use. It’s made of sturdy ripstop fabric that you can throw in the washing machine. You can adjust the harness in five places for a comfortable, secure, and comfortable fit for puppies of all sizes. The padded chest piece keeps your dog’s legs free for easy movement and reduces stress on the windpipe and sternum. There is a place where the leash can be attached in the front or in the back.
The tableware is available in three colors and five sizes. It fits dogs 12 to 44 inches in chest or 5 to 110 pounds in weight.
Best for adventure: Ruffwear Flagline Harness
If you and your dog are doing more than just strolling around the neighborhood, Ruffwear has some serious gear for adventure. The Flagline harness is kind of an updated version of the Web Master harness (view on Amazon) that is very popular with people outdoors. It’s longer and lighter and has a front clip as well as the standard clip on the dog’s back.
Both straps have a lift and assist handle that you can use to lift your dog over crevices, creeks, or other places where he may need help. This is also handy for older or healing dogs who may need a push into the car. For safety reasons there are six adjustment points, three colors and a reflective trim.
Best for puppies / small dogs: Puppia Ritefit Harness
If your new pup is just trying to keep the whole thing on a leash, this comfy mesh harness is a great way to introduce them. The Puppia harness is light, soft and breathable and can be moved with your puppy without any major restrictions. It’s adjustable around the neck and body, with Velcro and snap buckle and D-ring to hold a leash.
The straps are available in five colors and four sizes. Before ordering, measure carefully to make sure your dog’s head fits easily through the neck opening.
Best No-Pull: 2 Hounds Design Freedom No Pull Dog Harness
A favorite of many dog trainers and behaviorists, the Freedom No Pull harness has two connection points. There is a front clip attachment on the dog’s chest and a martingale loop on the back of the harness. This gently contracts around your dog’s chest and works in conjunction with the front clip. A split leash connects both locations at the same time for added control.
The harness has a velvety lining to prevent it from rubbing against your dog’s skin. It’s located under the windpipe but above the leg muscles for easy and comfortable movement.
If you have a dog that pulls, certified dog trainer Susie Aga recommends a front clip harness that attaches to the chest. When your dog pulls, the leash will turn your dog back towards you. Straps with a back clip don’t discourage pulling, she says, pointing out that it’s like sled dogs pulling on their rigging.
However, straps are not a magical solution to pulling. You still need to train your dog not to pull and walk with the leash by your side.
Best Budget: PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
This is the harness that Trainer Susie Aga recommends to most of her clients. The front clip is available in eight sizes and is very easy to put on and take off. The chest strap is a contrasting color so you don’t have to struggle to put it on top of a squirming puppy or impatient dog who wants to go out the door for a walk.
The front clip is specially designed for pulling dogs and directs them to you when they pull on the leash. One disadvantage is that the front chest straps can loosen and sag if your dog pulls hard. Aga suggests attaching the leash to both the ring on the front of the harness and the ring on your dog’s collar for extra control.
Best Natural: The Good Dog Company’s hemp cord harness
If your dog has sensitive skin, or if you just prefer more sustainable materials, this harness from the Good Dog Company is a natural alternative made from hemp and organic cotton. The simple style distributes pressure evenly on your dog’s body and the straps are angled to prevent loosening or wrinkling.
The tableware is available in four sizes and a rainbow in muted earth colors. They are made of hard-wearing yet soft fabric made of cord or corduroy. Tableware is antimicrobial, antibacterial and easy to wash. Note: this strap only has one rear clip.
Best Suited for Cars: Sleepypod Clickit Sport Dog Seat Belt
The nonprofit Pet Safety Center conducted independent tests on hundreds of dog harnesses (and crates used as carriers) of dog crash dolls. Only three straps passed the tests, including two from the Sleepypod. “Our goal is to ensure that the dog is restrained before, during and after an accident,” says Lindsey Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety.
The Sleepypod Clickit Sport (for dogs up to 90 pounds) and Sleepypod Clickit Terrain (up to 110 pounds) have a shock-absorbing padded vest, seat belts, and stress-tested buckles. The terrain is a bit more extensive and has been specially developed for working and service dogs.
Note that these don’t work well for dogs with very lean body types like whippets and greyhounds. My slim border collie mix could slip out of the sport, but is safe in the field.
There are no industry standards or tests for verifying the safety of restraint systems for pet cars. When companies say that their harnesses have been “crash tested” it usually means the company performed the tests and does not meet any guidelines that Wolko Treehugger shares.
Our first choice is the Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness (view on Amazon) as it is a durable, comfortable harness with front and rear clips that is perfect for everyday adventures.
If you’re heading for more rugged adventures, try the lightweight multi-purpose Ruffwear Flagline harness (view from REI) with a lift and support handle, reflective straps and lots of adjustment points.
Why trust Treehugger?
When researching harnesses, pets’ needs come first, but we also look for sustainable materials. Unfortunately, many of the best performing harnesses are not made from the most environmentally friendly materials. However, we’ve tested almost all of our recommendations firsthand and made sure they are all permanent options so you don’t have to replace them often. We also consulted with a pet safety expert and certified dog trainer to make our selection easier.
The proud mother of a rescue dog, author Mary Jo DiLonardo, has raised more than 30 dogs and puppies. She works on training lots of puppies and has tried many harnesses over the years. She has worked especially with her own dog who has trouble dragging on walks.
For more than 25 years, Mary Jo has covered a wide range of topics focusing on nature, pets, health, science, and anything that helps make the world a better place. She spent six years with Treehugger, formerly under the Mother Nature Network brand.