When you put a collar on your dog, it doesn’t come off at night. Most pet owners don’t even think twice about leaving it there since that’s what a collar is made for. It’s fine to leave your dog’s collar on twenty-four-seven, but are all harnesses the same? While it’s undoubtedly useful, especially if your dog pulls when you walk, a harness covers a lot more of your dog. Are there any dangers or problems if you don’t remove it? I’ll help you sort out the difference, and teach you everything you need to know about dog harnesses.
Can you leave a harness on your dog all the time? You cannot leave a harness on your dog all the time. Unlike a small collar, the harness was never designed to stay on your pet. It’s fine to leave the rig on your dog all day, especially if they’re a working dog. However, you need to remove it when you get home in the evening.
You Should Use a Harness
Just because you shouldn’t leave it on all the time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a harness with your dog. They are comfortable and far superior to a collar when it comes to walks. Not pulling on your dog’s neck is a good thing. Undue strain in such a small area can certainly harm your pet. No one wants to injure their furry friend.
Harnesses give the dog-walker more control. Moreover, they’re often much more comfortable for the dog. Even a well-behaved pooch can get distracted, and a good harness helps you to reel them in without choking your pet.
My favorite all-inclusive harness is the AdventureMore Dog Harness from Amazon. Not only does this harness have two clips, but it also has a handle on the back. The leash is included, and it comes in red with reflective strips to make your dog easy to see while walking. You can pick up this outstanding harness when you click here.
Not only can walking a dog with a standard collar injure them, but many collars are created with damage in mind. Choke collars, e-collars (also known as shock collars), and essential oil spraying collars, among others, can damage a dog far more than merely pulling on their neck.
Inside your pets’ throat are the larynx, vocal cords, airway, muscle, tendon, bone, and other essentials for breathing, barking, eating, and life. A dog with a damaged neck or throat isn’t able to function correctly and without pain. It’s not worth risking their health.
It’s worth noting that, even when you walk your dog with a harness, you should still get a standard collar for most dogs. Your pet needs both. Unless your pooch has respiratory problems, a collar is perfect for identification. Always make sure your dog’s collar has tags with your current information on them.
Choosing the Right Harness Style
Leaving your dog in their harness all the time is a bad plan, but using one for walks is ideal. The biggest problem with harnesses is choosing the right one. Useful information can be hard to come by. Fortunately, I can help there. Sorting out the different styles isn’t that difficult once you know what you’re looking at.
Harnesses come in three basic types. There are advantages and downsides to all three. Though the materials and shapes vary based on what company makes them, they all fall into the same basic categories. You’ll find them below with an explanation of each.
Types of Harnesses
Although there are variations on all of these, the three types of standard harnesses are easy to identify visually. The main differences are in the location of the leash attachment point. You should be able to tell exactly which one you’re holding at a glance.
- Front Clip- The defining characteristic of a front clip harness by any name is the fact that the leash clips on the front. There will be a loop, clasp, or ring on the dog’s chest. Unfortunately, this style is more likely to get tangled in a dog’s legs as they move unless you walk in front of the dog. The positive side is that you’ll have more control over their movements for training.
- Back Clip- These harnesses typically have a ring or loop on your dog’s back. Hence the name. The downside to a back clip harness is that it’s difficult to correct a dog left or right. On the upside, they don’t tangle around the dog and distribute the pull from a leash more evenly.
- Dual Clip- When you need a harness that’s the best of both worlds, a dual clip will fit the bill. Exactly as you’d expect, this style offers the advantage of both clips. Sometimes this style causes more chaffing around the edges.
Your dogs’ comfort, training needs, and walking style all play into the choice of harness. A dog who pulls or jumps more may need a shorter leash. A front-clip harness helps you correct them. Meanwhile, a seasoned walker with good manners will probably be most comfortable in a back clip.
Face Harnesses & Step-In Harnesses
A “Face Harness,” or halter can be very useful for working with a dog who pulls vigorously. However, there’s a risk of excess pressure on your dogs’ neck during use. Although you still need to take it off your dog when you’re done walking, a face-halter isn’t an actual harness.
A step-in harness can be front, back, or dual clip. It is just a different means of getting your dog dressed. No matter what type of harness you buy, there’s likely to be a step-in and non-step-in variety. Don’t be fooled by clever packaging. This is not a fourth type, but rather a variant on existing styles.
Extended Wear Harness
Although most harnesses aren’t suitable for all-day wear, some are designed with extra padding. When you want to go on a day-long hike, or otherwise spend your entire day out having fun with your pup, that cushion makes a big difference. I wouldn’t suggest using an all-day harness every day, but once in a while should be just fine.
My top choice for an extended wear harness is Ruffwear from Amazon. Not only is it durable and extra padded, but you can choose from a large variety of colors and sizes. Make sure you have the right harness when your dog needs to be out all day with a superb, high-quality choice like Ruffwear. Find out more by clicking right here.
Guide Dog Harnesses
You’ve probably seen a service dog in a harness that has a different type of attachment for walking. Guide dogs may wear leash harnesses. Usually, these have a back clip. However, some use a rigid handle. This is there so the dog can guide the walker, not the other way around.
Unless your dog is a service animal, training them to use this form of a harness is not advisable. Not only is it unnecessary, but it means your dog can’t roam around on their leash the way non-working dogs are supposed to be allowed. Your pet should be permitted to sniff and explore when you’re out walking. Dogs discover the world through their noses.
A dog who is in their harness all the time will have problems. However, there are some other cautions as well regarding harness use. It pays to know what to look for so you can handle any issues that come up with your dogs’ harness.
Keeping your pet healthy and safe can be complicated, but harnesses don’t have to be. You’ll know what to look for once you’re aware of the dangers. Always do your research on anything you plan to put on your dog.
Full-Time Harness Dangers
Leaving a harness on your dog too long comes with three problems. First, it can cause chaffing and pain. Second, it can interfere with their fur. Third and finally, a harness can trap bacteria and cause infection when not removed and cleaned properly.
It makes the dog uncomfortable when you restrict their body all the time. Even cold winter gear like dog jackets need to be taken off indoors and washed. You should only use a harness when you need to ‘harness’ your dog for walking. Otherwise, leave it off.
Even a properly fitted harness will rub over time. This can cause chafing on the skin, which may blister, bleed, or callus in areas a dog bends and moves. Also, the rubbing can cause hair pulling and hair loss. No dog deserves to be in pain just for our convenience. Always take the harness off after your walk.
Temporary Harness Problems
Harnesses make for more comfortable walks, but that doesn’t make them completely danger-free. While your dog assuredly can’t hang themselves like they can with a traditional leash and collar set up, they can still get caught.
Make sure to keep your pet out of the brush when walking on a harness. In addition to catching and tearing, pointy sticks can get trapped inside the material. Trapped against the skin by fabric, a small twig can poke, chafe, and cause your dog pain.
Pet owners with powerful dogs also need to be aware of potential chest injuries. A dog can still pull in a harness. Unfortunately, that means it’s possible, though not common, for a dog to hurt themself while straining. Barrel chested dogs also have the hardest time finding a harness that fits properly.
Front clip harnesses come with a couple of possible problems. The leash can get tangled up in your dog’s legs if it’s too slack. Naturally, a dog who gets caught up can trip, causing scrapes, bruises, or even broken bones. Furthermore, too much correction in a front harness can interfere with the dogs’ natural stride over time. Pulling to the side takes a while to show up as a problem since it’s cumulative, slow damage. You might not even notice it’s affecting your dog until the damage is done.
When you choose a harness for your dog, the most important thing, other than taking it off after walks, is the fit. A loose harness will chafe. Plus, it may not hold the dog. A dog who slips out of its lead can get lost or frightened. Avoid the trouble by making sure your dog is secure.
Similarly, a too-tight harness will restrict your dogs’ movement. Squeezing and pinching will make your dog hesitate to walk. Dogs need their walks daily. They should be fun and relaxing, a source of de-stressing rather than a cause to fear pain.
In rare cases, an extremely tight harness can cause trouble breathing. Brachycephalic dogs can benefit from a well-fitting harness, but restricting the chest is especially bad for dogs with breathing problems.
Cleaning a Dog Harness
Some dog harnesses can go in the washing machine. However, most need hand washing. Use a mild detergent and scrub gently. Make sure you hang it up to dry completely before your dog wears it again. Moisture trapped inside combined with heat from a dogs’ body will promote bacterial growth.
Between washes, make sure to hang up the harness where it will get plenty of airflow. Bacteria is normal, and you can’t avoid it. Fortunately, without a food source, like the proteins in your dogs’ skin cells, it will die off in a few hours to a day.
My top pick for a lightweight daily harness is the Kurgo Dog Harness from Amazon. This smart choice comes with front and back clip options, and it’s easy to adjust. Moreover, Kurgos are breathable and come in a wide variety of sizes for hard to fit dogs. Check prices and availability by clicking here.
As you can see, leaving a harness on your dog all the time could do them serious harm. Leaving a collar on is a little like sleeping with your wedding band on. It’s smaller and created to stay in place. Meanwhile, not removing a harness would be more like never changing your underwear.
Keeping too much fabric up against the skin all day can create an ideal environment for bacteria. Additionally, it can pull or wear away at hair, causing bald patches. It’s not good for your dog. Take the time to scrub it with mild detergent after a day or two of wear. Your pet will thank you.
Make sure to take the harness off when your dog doesn’t need it, so you don’t cause unnecessary discomfort, lost hair, or infections. Your pet deserves to relax at home.