Is your dog constantly pulling the leash? This might seem like a training problem, but you should also think about the effect of the pulling force on your pooch’s body. Smaller dogs suffer more when their tiny bodies are dragged with a collar and a leash on. In this case, an extra small dog harness will be an excellent alternative. It will distribute the force across the body, thus preventing neck lacerations and choking.
Harnesses can look pretty complicated that you have to figure out how each strap goes. It comes in a variety of materials and types too which is a bit overwhelming for a newbie paw-rent. But no matter how difficult it is to choose or put on, harnesses have an excellent purpose.
Harness vs. collar
Both the harness and the collar are useful for dog walking and training. But the issue arises when collars start to choke and cause injuries. According to experts, harnesses are better options so you can diffuse the pulling force away from the neck area. It’s also the best choice for pugs that have bulging eyeballs. If too much pressure is put on their necks, their eyes may protrude more out of the sockets.
Harnesses also provide better control for the dog owners. It promotes focus and pet owners can easily pull the dog back if he tries to leap or run. Most of all, it’s beneficial for pooches with respiratory issues. If you’d used a collar before, you’d likely saw your dog wheezing due to the choking effect aggravated by the leash. Still, be mindful when using a small dog harness since the fit can be a bit tricky.
However, harnesses aren’t without some downsides. Some dogs don’t like the additional restraint and if you choose a back-clip one, you’re simply letting your pooch ignore you. On a back-clip styled harness, the dog’s attention is darted away. It would be the other way around if you use a front-clip vest.
Meanwhile, small dog harness should only be used to small pooches. Trying to fit a larger into it will cause a lot of physical issues.
Collars, on the other hand, are beneficial in some occasions. It’s an excellent start for tiny pups. Collars can also hold tags, identification of the dog, and rabies information. But like what’s said earlier, collars increase unnecessary pressure to the eyes and neck.
Types of dog harnesses
Before you go to a shop or place an order online, it’s important that you know the different types of harnesses. Each of these works differently and not every piece is suited for all dogs.
A vest harness is usually seen on service dogs as it provides warmth with a design that doesn’t have any strap placed on the throat. This is best for well-trained dogs since it doesn’t offer much control as to where the pooch is heading. Nevertheless, it can be used for fashion purposes. In fact, there is a small dog vest designed to mimic human costumes too.
A step-in harness is exactly what it’s called – it has weaved straps that you get to put on your dog by letting them step into the openings. This is easier to wear and offers more support than a collar.
-Padded chest harness
This one has a padded chest plate and with a construction similar to a step-in type. Such a thing provides comfort for your dog that has chest or respiratory issues.
A front-clip harness can be any of the design mentioned above except that it locks in front. This is best for training since it gives pet owners the control on the direction where the dog is heading.
This harness is a front-clip one where the straps tighten when your dog tries to pull the leash. The pressure will discourage the pooch from pulling. Some models tighten on the chest while others constrict on the legs.
It’s important that you get the right harness based on the needs and condition of your dog. If your dog is a puller, here’s a guide to choosing the right harness:
Benefits of using a dog harness
A basic combination of collars and a leash isn’t always the best choice for your dog, especially if you have a small breed. You might need a dog harness to reap the following benefits:
Prevent choking and injuries
Prong collars are nothing but a punishment for dogs even if they did nothing wrong. Although it trains the dog to stop pulling, it also causes pain in the throat. If your dog constantly yanks and pulls, getting a harness will be advisable. It will scatter the force all over the body and not just on the neck.
For those who are training their dogs, having a front-clip harness will offer better control. It reduces the strain of dogs wiggling their heads with a collar that can become unbearable as the training progresses. A small dog harness for small breeds will be better than using collars alone.
Versatility on dog size
Large dogs can be a pain to lead using a collar and a leash. A harness offers more wrapping effect so you can redirect your pooch to another direction. When it comes to smaller breeds, a harness solves the issue of choking. Smaller dogs are more prone to neck injuries if a collar is used.
If you’re transporting your dog inside a car or a truck, a harness will make it easier to secure the pooch. It can be attached to the seatbelt so your dog is safe even if an accident takes place. Also, harness vests offer more coverage on the dog’s body for more leash attachment options and outdoor protection.
For doggos recuperating from neck injuries, a harness will offer better support when walking and climbing. Harnesses are more beneficial for handicap dogs that need more physical care.
Fashion and fun
Dog harnesses can be used for fashion purposes since it comes in a variety of colors and designs. Pet owners who love styling their dogs would like using a harness. In fact, a dog harness vest comes in varying colors and styles.
Can it stop the pulling?
Most of the time, harnesses will stop the pulling. A no-pull piece is guaranteed to encourage dogs to stay beside their owners as the straps tighten when they try to fight back the leash. It gives the owners the upper hand when it comes to control.
However, the tricky part here is when you prefer using a back-clip harness. Sled dog breeds like an Alaskan malamute, Samoyed, and Husky will likely associate the pulling force that of a moving sled. The tendency is they will pull more. This can be avoided if you use a front-clip design for your pooch. If you’re going to buy an extra small dog harness, make sure that it fits like a glove.
Aside from the breed, some owners may have a hard time training older dogs that grew accustomed to the pulling habit. It’s important to use a dog harness with a leash attached in front.
Should you include a head halter?
For some dog owners, using a head halter works in discouraging their canines from pulling. Head halters are straps placed on top of the dog’s snoot that will tighten when they try to pull. This doesn’t hurt but it teaches the dog that pulling will be uncomfortable.
A lot of dog owner and trainers swear by this added accessory, but I personally don’t recommend it. Head halters cause distress to dogs and they seem to be punished for a petty fault. It may stymie training due to the discomfort the halter brings. As much as possible, use force-free methods of training your canine to prevent any behavioral issues later on. A dog harness vest should be enough if you have a little doggy.
If you put on the harness properly, it should be enough to stop the pulling. Training is still important here if you really want to master loose leash walking.
How it fares during training
If we’re talking about control, a dog harness would be ideal for training given that you get the right size and leash length. Take note that dogs build habits based on what they are exposed to. If you keep on pulling them with the collar on, they will develop such habit which can be difficult to fix later on.
Some considerations and safety tips
A poorly adjusted harness might cause your dog to pull for the sake of easing the discomfort. You’ll likely mistake this as misbehavior and punish the dog for such act. From there, a slew of problem arises.
A very tight harness can affect the muscle growth of your dog. The pooch will be forced to change the way he walks to adjust the fit, resulting to tight muscles and restricted range of motion. To avoid this, here are some safety tips of putting a harness on your dog:
Adjust it properly
After sliding the harness into your doggo’s body, check if all the buckles are in place. Another thing you should be mindful of is the tightness of the strap. For an extra small dog harness, make sure that the size suits your tiny pooch. Too much grip will cause discomfort and put your dog in a bad mood.
Get the right size
Just like human clothes, dog harnesses also come in different sizes. Make sure that you measure the neck and girth of your dog. Usually, the leg and chest strap of dog harnesses are highly adjustable.
One of the common mistakes of dog owners is shoving the vest into the canines’ bodies. If you keep on using a small dog harness to a bigger dog, you’re causing too much distress. Later on, the pooch will associate the harness into something unpleasant. Instead of making them excited when you put it out, walk day might end up with a chase around the house.
Why size matters
One thing that you should pay attention to when purchasing a dog harness is the size that suits your pooch. Too loose and they can wiggle out of it. Too tight and it will damage their natural gait. You have to ensure that the harness fits snugly especially when you’re bringing your dog downtown or to a busy shopping center.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out what size suits your dog, here’s a short video guide for the right dog harness fit:
Best Dog Harness & Vest Picks
Extra Small Dog Harness: Pawtitas Dog Harness
If you want to start with a simple harness made of straps, the Pawtitas Dog Harness would be the best bet for your pup. This works great for small dog breeds like Maltese, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and Miniature Pinscher. Make sure that you refer on the size guide to get the accurate fit for your pooch.
Aside from being a comfortable harness, the Pawtitas product is made of reflective straps that will alert anyone in low light settings. This step-in harness is very easy to put on and comfy for daily walks with your canine.
Take note that this has a back-clip design which is best for well-behaved dogs that are trained for loose leash walking. Also, make sure that your dog doesn’t play or chew on the harness since it’s not as durable as leash tape. Nevertheless, this is a very stylish harness as you can choose the color that you want for your doggo.
Extra Small Dog Harness Vest: RABBITGOO No-Pull Dog Vest
Do you have a constant puller? In this case, the RABBITGOO No-Pull Dog Vest would be the best bet. This miniature version suits pups and small breeds. The neck and girth are fully adjustable so you can fit your dog accordingly.
Like Pawtitas, this harness has a reflective material that secures your pooch in the dark. But the good thing about this vest is it comes with D-rings on both the back and front. You can choose where you want to hook the leash depending on your dog’s obedience level.
The material of the RABBITGOO vest is breathable for your dog’s total comfort. It also bears a soft padding on the chest which will limit the choking effect of straps if ever they try to pull. And if ever they try to fight back your leash, they will be taken aback by the tightening of the vest.
An extra small dog harness fits small breeds so if you have a bigger hound, look for an equally bigger piece. Beyond the type and look, it’s the fit that matters most.