If you’ve ever walked a dog, chances are you’ve been pulled by a dog too. Now that winter is here, it’s more important than ever to get your dog’s leash walking skills in shape. Familiar with this situation? Dog pulls on the leash in an effort to increase meandering. Human pulls back to increase restriction. This combination of pulling away and pulling back puts pressure on the dog’s collar and he starts to choke & feel very anxious, and more times than not human lands hard on their behind!
In an effort to stay on my feet and more so for the beautiful benefits a cooperative walk can bring to both myself and my furry kids, I’m a big fan of the front clip harness. Most harnesses encourage a sled dog mentality: with the leash clipped across the shoulder, dogs forge ahead when they feel a tug. No-pull harnesses, however, restrain dogs across pressure points, which prevents pulling. It’s magical!
Not only do I suggest them for clients, I’ve got my own personal collection: a red one for Boozle - my little pirate; a pink one for Hootenanny, who is, well, a Hootenanny & our girly girl, and a striking royal blue one for Tally Ho, my 100-pound baby!
Recently, when my schedule blossomed with Daucsies, Bulldogs & Mastiffs, I set out to discover the variation of front clip harnesses on the market to see which ones work best for specific breeds & body types.
After hours of reading and note taking, I struck gold! A true expert - Meet Samantha Randall from Top Dog Tips! After speaking with me at length, I asked her if she would be so kind as to write a guest blog. Lucky me and lucky you, she said yes!
Which Front Clip Harnesses Will Work Best for Your Dog?
By Samantha Randall, pet blogger and podcaster at Top Dog Tips
Harnesses can be a very useful tool for dog owners to maintain control over their pup while out and about. There are many different types of harnesses to choose from, but one type that seems to be particularly popular among dog owners due its ease of use is the front clip harness.
I’ve been using front clip harnesses for a few years now, and in this article I’m going to take a closer look at a few variations of front clip harnesses so as to help you understand which type may work better for your specific dog.
What is a Front Clip Harness?
Most dog owners are familiar with the construction of the basic dog harness. A series of intertwined straps, the harness fits against the dog’s chest and around his legs to create better control for the leash handler when walking.
Every harness has what is called a “D-ring” or an “O-ring”. This is the ring where the leash attaches to the harness. There are two main attachment points for these rings – the back of the harness, generally between the dog’s shoulder blades, and the front of the harness at the center of the chest.
The front clip harness is the harness that has the attachment point at the front.
Harnesses with the ring at the back of the harness (between the shoulder blades) are more commonly used by dog owners. The reason for this is because harnesses are most often used because a dog has problems pulling when on a leash. This means that the dog is leading the owner and so it is more convenient for the owner to have a leash attached to the back of the harness.
Harnesses with the ring at the front of the harness on the chest, however, offer much more control over the dog and allow for the owner to redirect the dog’s motion quite easily.
There are also a few brands of harnesses that have clips both in the front and in the back. These are the most useful, as the owner can adjust whichever way works better in a specific situation or for specific dogs. My favorite one is Ruffwear, and I even did a video review of the Ruffwear harness where I demonstrate exactly how it works.
As a long-time writer about dog supplies, I’ve had to try many different types of harnesses to see how they work with my dogs. Below I’ll briefly discuss a few specific harnesses that some dog owners may not have heard of before.
Different Types of Front Clip Harnesses
The General Front Clip Harness
Front clip harnesses are frequently the most common choice for dog trainers since they provide more control over a dog. Having a clip at the front of the chest helps the leash handler to stop jumping or pulling and gives them more control over directing the dog while walking.
While this type of harness is appropriate for many types of dog, it is not appropriate for a dog with aggression or severe behavioral concerns. These dogs should be addressed directly by a behavioral trainer before being taken into a situation that could cause them or others harm.
Sense-ation Front Clip Dog Harness
The Sense-ation Front Clip Dog Harness is a unique, popular front clip harness that has been on the market for many years. Created by Softouch Concepts, this soft harness provides comfort, and its lightweight construction makes it less burdensome to the dog.
One of the biggest benefits to this type of front clip harness is that it is made from wide nylon webbing. This increased width of the webbing provides more control over wide set dogs and dogs that have significant strength behind them.
The Sense-ation harness features a contrasting color webbing strap in its softouch material that goes around the dog’s chest and under his front legs. This contrasting color makes it easy to orient the harness when putting it on and taking it off.
Additionally, the buckles on the straps of this harness are situated at the side of the straps so that they don’t cause irritation to the dog while walking. The average cost of the Sense-ation harness is between $25 and $31 depending on size.
The Sense-ation dog harness is particularly beneficial for the following breeds:
- Pit bulls
- Dogo Argentino
- Alaskan Malamute
- Saint Bernard
Wonder Walker Body Halter Front Clip Dog Harness
The Wonder Walker is another front clip harness recommended by trainers for dogs that need a little more direction while walking. Although it works in much the same way as the Sense-ation harness, the Wonder Walker Body Halter is constructed in a way that suits smaller built and taller dogs. This contrasts the Sense-ation, which is better suited to dogs that are wide at the shoulders.
The Wonder Walker halter features sturdy back straps, a fast to use snap buckle, and a sturdy chest strap with a leash ring directly in the center. The back strap of the Wonder Walker even features contrasting color to make it fast and easy to put on without getting turned around!
The average cost of the Wonder Walker Body Halter is between $26 and $33 depending on size.
The Wonder Walker Body Halter is particularly beneficial to the following breeds:
- Fox terriers
- Rat terriers
- Jack Russells
The Tightening Harness
Tightening harnesses are the types that are designed to tighten on the dog in response to his pulling. These types of harnesses can be front or back clip harnesses. The thought behind this is that the discomfort that the tightening causes, encourages the dog to stop pulling.
When fitted and used properly, this harness should cause pressure rather than pain. If the harness causes pain, then it is not being utilized correctly and can contribute to behavioral problems rather than help with them.
There is some controversy behind using this type of harness because it relies on negative reinforcement and causes a dog discomfort. In many cases, this harness causes pain rather than pressure due to a lack of knowledge on the owner’s part on how to properly use the harness.
For this reason, few trainers or behaviorists recommend using a tightening harness on dogs. Instead, you should focus on training your dog how not to pull on the leash, harness and otherwise; you should not rely on any dog supplies for that. If you need help, I’ve done a video teaching owners about how to stop dogs from pulling on the leash.
Easy Walk Front Clip Tightening Harness
The Easy Walk front clip tightening harness is one example of this type of dog harness. It was designed to combine the ease of control of a front clip harness with the correction of a tightening harness.
The design of the Easy Walk harness is such that it prevents twisting and tangling through the use of a martingale loop at the chest. Snap buckles also make this harness easy to put on and take off once it has been fitted correctly.
The Easy Walk is a more universal harness option in terms of fit and can be used for wider shouldered breeds as well as taller, slenderer dogs.
The average cost of the Easy Walk harness is $27 regardless of size.
It is beneficial to all breeds from Chihuahua’s to Great Danes to Rottweilers. Most commonly, this type of harness is used for dogs that pull considerably while walking and large dog owners on a more limited budget, since this is a more affordable harness option.
Choosing the Right Front Clip Harness
Choosing the right front clip harness for your dog depends on a number of factors. His breed and build are perhaps the most important after considering your dog’s behavioral needs. Using this guide above, you should be able to pick a decent harness for your dog to address you and your Fido’s needs.
But, if you still aren’t sure which halter or harness is best for your dog, try visiting a local store that carries a range of products. Try each harness on your dog and ask staff questions about each harness’s benefits and drawbacks.
This will be a time-consuming process, but it is the best way to determine which harness may be the best for your dog since you’re going to be using it on a daily basis. You can even ask the staff on how to fit the harness on your dog, because with some of them it’s not an easy process and many owners struggle. In the end, the key is simply picking the right type for your dog!