Benefits and Advantages of Front-Attaching Harnesses for Dogs

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Why use a front-attaching harness for dogs? Well, there are many advantages. Pulling on the leash is a common problem many dog owners struggle with. It's unfortunate that some dog owners at times give up walking their dog in fear that their dog will pull or just because walks have become more of a chore than a pleasure. What makes me even more sad is when dog owners rely on choke collars, prong collars, or other punitive devices to reduce the pulling problem. It doesn't have to be this way! Of course, no training tool should be used as a replacement for training, but the right equipment can really make a difference in helping dog owners "get a better grip" on the leash pulling problem.

Once a dog is better under control, dog owners can feel more confident and can start embracing training without worrying about being dragged down the road or being involved in some other embarrassing situation. Front-attaching harnesses have really made a big difference in the dog walking experience of many of my clients, which is why I often recommend them. But what are the main advantages of using front-attaching dog harnesses and choosing them over other training equipment? Well, there are many! We will see some in the next paragraphs.

Advantages of Front-Clip Dog Harnesses

Why do I love front-attaching harnesses? You'll soon see why many of my clients have converted to them. Clients using buckle collars, choke collars, and prong collars for years have thanked me for introducing them to front-attaching dog harnesses. In most cases, they weren't even aware of their existence! I have also used front-attaching harnesses in the past with my dogs, but gradually weaned them off and got back to a regular buckle collar once they learned how to walk nicely on the leash. I still use them every now and then though when there are chances of distractions popping out of nowhere or when I feel my dogs or my client dogs coming for boarding can get a bit stressed or over threshold from seeing some trigger. The following are reasons why I love these types of harnesses.

No More Strain on the Neck!

If your dog is a puller, you'll often hear him gasp and gag as the collar puts pressure on his neck. This is not only annoying to the dog, but it can also be painful and cause medical problems especially in small dogs. A collapsed trachea can result in small dog breeds such as Yorkies. In larger dogs, pressure from the collar may restrict breathing causing those gasping sounds that means the brain isn't receiving normal oxygen flow, something that can further cause anxiety in the dog. Dogs weren't meant to be pulled by the neck! Other possible injuries include chances for increased ocular pressure, pressure on the carotid artery, pressure on the jugular vein, damage to soft cartilage and the cervical discs and much more. A harness takes away the strain on the neck, which makes it a more humane choice for both small and large dogs.

Encourages Walking by Your Side

It didn't take rocket science for humans in the past to realize that it was best to lead large animals from the front. Horses, camel,s and cows indeed were led by the front for better steering, explains Dan Merson, the creator of the Walk Your Dog with Love Harness. When people attach a leash to the collar, the leash is already in a "behind position." The same goes with regular harnesses, which go "even more behind" and actually encourage the dog to pull. Often people confuse front-attachment harnesses with regular harnesses and tell me "but don't harnesses actually train a dog to pull more?" The main difference is that with a front-attachment harness, the leash attaches to a front ring right by the dog's chest area, which encourages the dog to walk by your side, therefore, should the dog pull in the worst case, the dog will pivot around, but this time towards you; whereas, in regular harnesses the leash attaches to a ring in the back and if the dog pulls, you're just dragged for the ride! Now, before saying "OK, this device will give me more control, problem solved" please read my important note at the bottom.

It Gives You More Control

People who have problems walking large dogs, notice more control once they give up the collar and try a harness. The secret is that a front-attachment harness gives more steering power than a collar since it controls the shoulders and chest area. If we look at a dog's shape, we'll notice that the dog is more horizontal than vertical. The dog's horizontal shape makes the dog have a more stable center of gravity which makes them harder to control, further explains Dan Merson. Us humans, on the other hand, are quite at a disadvantage because we are vertical beings with an unbalanced center of gravity which makes it easy for us to lose balance when the dog pulls. The harness allows the leash pull-point to be closer to the dog's center of gravity, allowing us better control. More control equals more confidence in dog owners who might have been discouraged by excessive pulling. Again, more control doesn't mean problem solved, please see my important note at the bottom!

Unlikely to Cause Negative Associations

Best of all, a front-attaching harness (when used correctly, obviously!) won't be associated with pain as other painful collars do. For instance, with a prong collar, the moment the dog sees a stimulus he wants to meet, such as another dog or a person, the dog will pull. The moment the dog pulls, the metal prongs will sink in the dog's skin causing an unpleasant, uncomfortable and often painful sensation. With time, the dog risks to come to see the trigger (person or other dog) as a predictor of pain, which can lead to more serious behavior problems than the pulling behavior itself!

Important Note: No training tool should be used as a replacement for training. If your dog pulls, a front attaching harness can help you out, but your main goal remains to train loose-leash walking for more pleasant walks, and most of all, to improve your relationship with your dog! Also, please note, depending on your dog's way of pulling your dog may need behavior modification in addition to training.

Best Brands and Types of Front-Clip Harnesses

Nowadays, there are many brands and types of front-attaching harnesses. It's not a bad idea to compare several to get the best deal for your dog. With some harnesses, you'll need to have the dog step in to get both legs in the harness, in others you may just lift one leg to put it on, Now though there are many that you just slip over the head and clip around the chest. These are best for those who want to fit them quickly. Some harnesses come with comfy padding to prevent chafing of the skin. This is quick rundown of different types of front-attaching harnesses out there.

The Wonder Walker

This is not easy to find in stores, as only some distributors stock these. This harness slips over the head for fast clipping around the chest. I am a big fan of these.

The Freedom Harness

This harness has actually two points for attaching the leash: the front and the back where there is a martingale-style loop. This means you'll have two leashes in your hand, but it can also be with only the leash in the back and only the leash in the front. With the leash in the front, pulling is discouraged, with the leash in the back, the dog can be exercised, but when he pulls too much, the martingale causes a gentle tightening around the chest. A double-ended leash can be used to simultaneously use front and back attachments with only one leash.

The Easy-Walk Harness

This harness is one of the most popular and is produced by Premier. I used to be a fan of these, but not much any more because they have been acquired by Radio Systems Corporation/Pet Safe, a producer of shock collars, which I do not support. The harness is similar to the Wonder Walker.

The Walk-in-Sinc Harness

This is a recent model and is similar to the other front attachment harness but it has an extra strap that travels between the dog's legs connecting it to the strap going around the chest.

The Sense-ation Harness

Produced by Soft-Touch Concepts, this is one of the earliest harnesses I recall. The leash attaches to the front as other harnesses, but it has a ring that lies flat on the dog's chest area.

The Walk Your Dog With Love Harness

This harness brings safety to an extra level because it is made in reflective material for those nightly walks. The website claims it's the easiest harness to adjust.

Important Note: Back in time when I lived in Italy, there were no front-attachment harnesses there. What I used was a regular harness that had the fortune of having a ring right in the middle of the chest area where I could attach the leash to. This worked wonders, and I still use this harness every now and then.

Questions & Answers

Question: After about 20 minutes of walking, the metal sliders of the front attaching harness moves around, and the chest strap loosens. Any tips?

Answer: You can try attaching your leash to both the harnesses' chest ring and the ring of your dog's collar. We do this on walks as an extra safety precaution, if ever there is an equipment failure with the harness.

© 2013 Adrienne Farricelli

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 09, 2016:

LOL, I can see that happen in countries where front-clip harnesses are not that common. When I visited Italy for a training event, I got the same remarks!

Heldi on June 09, 2016:

In my coutry (Croatia) there are no front clip harnesses to buy in stores so I bougth it online and I really enjoy walking my dog, we walk 5-7kilometres daily on our evening walk with pleasure.

People are confused when they see leash clips in front, they think that I don`t know the right way to put a harness on :)

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on December 18, 2013:

Oh, I was wondering why you put the leash in the front. Now I know. Thanks for this tip:)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 18, 2013:

In order to work though, the harness must be one that you put the leash in the front, if the leash goes in the back ring, it will encourage the dog to pull more. Happy training!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on December 17, 2013:

This is very helpful, including the video. I will do as the video suggests and start with short walks. We have a harness dog, but I never knew the advantages that came with it till now. Thank you very much.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on December 11, 2013:

This is such an informative hub. I never really paid much attention to the type of harness I buy. Thanks for the info my friend. Next time, I'll do my dog a favor and buy him a better harness.

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Martingale Nylon Dog Collar

A Martingale Nylon Collar is a great option if you’re looking to have more control over your pup. These nylon dog collars are perfect for walking or training your pup. Choose from a Personalized Buckle or Embroidered Martingale Nylon Collar to ensure your dog has identification on at all times. Check out the blog 4 Reasons to Use a Martingale Collar to find out more information on how they can benefit your furry friend.

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About Tara Peters

Tara is a marketing and content intern here at dogIDs. She spends her free time studying marketing and playing with every dog she sees. Even though she does not have a pup of her own, she gets her puppy fixes through her family and friend's dogs. She hopes to have a fur baby of her own one day!

Big benefits of dog harnesses

There are many situations where a harness is preferable to a collar, and it doesn’t matter whether you own a hefty shepherd, a powerful pitbull, or a toy breed.

The experts at the American Kennel Club definitively state that harnesses give you better control over your dog, and this is ultimately the most important factor when it comes to ensuring the safety of yourself and others.

Most dog parents have been in a sticky situation where it looks like your pup is eager to head for the hills or engage in some roughhousing with a new doggy friend. In these scenarios, you want to be the one in the driver’s seat, and a harness is the best tool in your arsenal to keep everyone safe.

A harness is the best way to stay in control without causing harm to your dog.

  • No tension is applied directly to the neck.
  • Tension is distributed across the front of the dog’s chest area.
  • Most materials are soft and comfortable.
  • Easy to put on and remove.
  • Better for puppies still building neck strength.

Harness designs will also differ based on the size and breed of your dog.

For smaller pups, a back-clip harness is probably all you need, since they will not be pushing ahead with much force. Buckles can be small and straps lightweight.

Going up a size, you’ll need some beefier buckles and thicker straps. Even medium-sized dogs have some unexpected horsepower, and if you are on the smaller side yourself, it’s worth investing in some extra leverage.

Finally, the big dogs will need harnesses that more closely resemble personal flotation devices! That means multiple, thick straps, many buckles, and even some padding for comfort.

Harnesses are often recommended when taking your new puppy out for its first strolls around the neighborhood. Not only do you want to be captain of the ship at all times (especially in the city), but the young pup’s neck may also not be strong enough to handle the yanks of the leash on a standard collar.

As your dog gets more trustworthy and well-trained, you can rely more heavily on the collar. Generally, the pup will still behave and respond as if he or she is still wearing a harness.

We suggest having a harness at the ready even if you have a well-trained dog. If you adventure out someplace totally new or potentially hazardous, you’ll want the extra control.

Benefits of using Dog Training Collars that you can’t ignore

It is not a secret that there is some doubt about the actual effectiveness of using the electronic collar as a proper training tool for your dog.

Dogs are practically our companions, we all want them to be well behaved or basically obey certain commands like “sit”, “stay”, “come” and so on, but mainly too we want the dog to be a safe dog to ensure the relationship is more enjoyable.

Electronic training devices have existed for over sixty years. The misconceptions and apprehension surrounding their use is rapidly reducing through new, improved technological developments and case studies, which examine their performance and safety. The technological advances implemented in the newest generation of electronic training collars have resulted in more reliable and safe products.

The new generation of dog training shock collars offers several benefits over other standalone behavior modification methods such as leash or clicker training:

  • Easily achieved, long lasting behavioral change.

Research and the experience from dog training professionals indicate that the correct use of electronic training leads to more thorough and durable learning.

A team of Norwegian researchers conducted a two-year study of the effect of electronic training devices on 114 hunting dogs, specifically breeds prone to chasing and attacking sheep. A group of dogs was given a sheep confrontation test in the first year: they received an electronic stimulation for predatory behavior if they wandered within two meters of a sheep.

In the second year of identical testing on the same group, the dogs showed weakened, delayed, and hesitant behavior, indicating that a) learning had taken place and b) behavior modification learned previously was retained by the dogs over a relatively long period of time. Only one of the 114 dogs that received electronic stimulations the first year required it the second year.

  • Speed / timing of stimulation

With an e-collar, owners can deliver the appropriate signal at the exact instant they want to obtain the dog’s attention. There is no time wasted such as is associated with offering a treat, or taking up slack on a leash, or catching the dog if it is far away. Remote trainers reach the dog at distances where a ‘clicker’ would not be heard.

  • Effective for any size combination of person and dog

Unlike leash training, which can require significant size and strength to perform safely and effectively, electronic dog shock collars may be even used by persons with physical disabilities. In all human-dog training situations, regardless of size, the goal is to remind the dog that it is part of a team, not acting alone and its actions can be checked.

  • Consistency – can be used at all times in all appropriate situations

Many dogs are not motivated to work for anything but food, which can become problematic for dog and for trainer. Use of a remote trainer ensures that the owner can consistently correct or reward the dog instantly, without a constant stream of treats, an extremely long leash, or physically pursuing the dog.

  • Stress and Voice

While using other methods of training your dog, it is very common and possible to shout at the top of your voice or move/run around trying to ensure that your dog obeys a certain command or sticks to a particular behavioural pattern. This could even damage your larynx as well as so many unforeseen circumstances if the dog is of bad behaviour. However, if your dog is on the e-collar system, it’s a simple well-calculated click and the effect is usually achieved momentarily.

  • Effective in situations of distractions

In certain situations, such as animal-assisted therapy or police dog work, it is of the utmost importance to everyone involved that a dog be under control at all times.

Every dog can be distracted, imagine you reading this article could be highly distracted, so what more of a dog. Studies and research have proven that, once the dog is under the e-collar system, and is used to the sensation it produces with regards to behaviour/commands, your dog would instantly react to a tap on your remote, it doesn’t matter the distractions or environment he/she is in. Feeling the sensation of the click after proper training would ensure your dog adheres to each of your commands in the face of any distraction.

  • Off leash control
Have you ever imagined how stressful or impossible it could be to control a disobedient dog off leash? Let me give you a little picture of what you would be subject to… “It would be like putting a cat amongst pigeons”. This isn’t to tell you that training a dog on leash isn’t possible, but then, to control your dog using the e-collar would definitely be better off leash and would also be less stressful. In a distance, probably hanging out with a friend and your dog starts digging or chasing a person, such a disrespectful and terrible situation, which can be immediately remedied by a tap or tapping on your e-collar device, your dog would adjust instantly. Life made easy with PetSpy!

This Soft Concepts SENSE-ation harness* comes with a front-attachment only.

Pros of the SENSE-ation harness

If you are struggling with the idea of a front-attaching harness over a collar, this might be a good first step for you.

There are no ‘moving parts’ and only one snap-up buckle.

It is front-attachment only, so you only need to clip the leash on one place and can use a regular single-clipped leash with it.

It’s the harness which is most like a collar, yet much more humane than one.

Cons of the SENSE-ation harness

The strap that runs across the dog’s chest in the SENSE-ation harness* has the potential to restrict leg movement.

This could lead to temporary discomfort, but also longer-term physical problems if your Labrador is running and/or jumping with the harness on.

Lying down pulls it tight across the dog’s chest and shoulders. A sure sign that range of motion is affected.

Which I can confirm when I’ve trialled it on my own dogs.

However, the range of motion needed for on-leash walking is much less than for off-leash running.

So if you plan on using this harness only for on-leash walking, then this harness could work for you.

But you will have the extra hassle of taking the harness off and putting it on.

Which kinda undermines the simplicity – one of this harness’ main selling-points.

There is also some small gaping from the front-attachment only, but not a huge deal.

This harness has to go over the dog’s head, so may not be a good choice if your Labrador dislikes having things placed over her head.

SENSE-ation Harness Rating 4/10

√ No martingale attachments
√ Easy on/off – only one snap-up buckle
√ Simplicity

X Inhibits full range of motion in the shoulders
X Should not be left on the dog, for off-leash running/jumping
X Small amount of gaping
X Pulling creates downwards pressure across the top of the dog’s shoulder blades
X No possibility of using a long-line on a back-attachment point

Watch the video: Best Harness For Dogs (June 2021).