Tips on How to Put on a Dog Harness

You've finally bought a good dog harness for your Fido, but now there's a problem – how do you easily put on a pet harness of a specific type and ensure that it's comfortable for the dog?

Putting a dog harness on your pet for the first time can seem intimidating, especially when you consider many different types of harnesses that require different putting-on techniques.

If you want to make your dog safe and comfortable and won't slip out of it, learning how to put on a dog harness is crucial.

Doing this incorrectly can cause a few problems. Your dog may be uncomfortable and have the urge to pull against the harness.

You may restrict his range of motion if you put the harness incorrectly and make it too tight.

In some cases, if the harness pulls more to one side than the other, it can even lead to a structural imbalance.

Finally, an incorrectly placed harness is simply a potential choking or other hazard.

Here are a few tips to help you learn how to put different types of harnesses on your dog.

READ THIS: Types of Dog Harnesses Compared – Front- vs Back- vs Multi-Clip

How to Put on a Dog Harness
(guide for different types of harnesses)

Different types of dog harnesses will require different approaches – back clip dog harnesses, front clip, step-in, and over-the-head harnesses.

There's no single dog harness that's the easiest to put on for every owner or their dog; most of this depends on the owners themselves and their dogs.

Here's a guide for every type out there.

Back Clip Dog Harness

This is a style that is most common, and many will say that it's easy to put on, at least when we talk about overhead harnesses, but some still find it complicated.

If you have a calm dog that is trained not to pull on his leash or if you have a small breed dog with a delicate throat, this dog harness should be your choice (as long as you've measured for harness properly).

This is what a back clip dog harness looks like:

Back-clip types of dog harnesses

6 Steps on How to Put On a Back Clip Dog Harness:

1. Position yourself behind your dog

You can sit, stand, or squat behind your dog. Your dog should be sitting as well, or he can stand if he is still all the time.

Don’t try to put the harness on your dog when he is excited or when he is lying down.

2. Slip the harness over his head

Slip both the top and bottom loops of the harness over your dog’s head. They should be parallel to each other, even though the bottom loop is larger than the top.

The snap buckle should be undone when you do this, or you could hurt your dog.

3. Slip one leg through the first hole of the harness

In addition to the two loops that you slipped over your dog’s head, there is one more loop. Slip your dog’s paw through that loop or leg hole.

You will see that the next loop or leg hole is starting to form where the two buckled ends come together.

4. Buckle the harness

When you buckle the harness, you will see that your dog's other leg is in the appropriate leg hole. You might need to loosen the strap if you can’t buckle the harness.

5. Adjust the harness

Make adjustments to make the harness fit properly. Try to slip two fingers underneath any strap. If you can’t do this, adjust accordingly.

Try to pull the harness over your dog’s head. If you notice that it budges, try to tighten it more. Also, if you tug on the buckle and it snaps apart, try to loosen the harness.

Ensure that the harness's front is not loose and that your dog can’t slip his legs out of the holes.

6. Clip the leash on

If the harness is positioned properly, the D-ring should be on your dog's back. Clip the leash to the D-ring, and you are ready to go.

Front Clip Dog Harness

This dog harness type has a leash attachment in front of the harness, in the center of your dog’s chest.

This style is often used by trainers to decrease the dog's pulling on the leash.

It also gives you more control over your dog is direction, allowing you to redirect him as needed.

This is what a front-clip dog harness looks like:

Front-clip dog harness

5 Steps on How to Put On a Front Clip Dog Harness:

1. Get behind your dog

Your position and your dog’s position should be the same as with the back clip harness, or you can stand on the right side of your dog.

2. Put the shoulder strap over his head

Slip the loop created by the chest strap and shoulder strap over your pooch’s head to make the shoulder strap rest across his shoulders.

The buckle from the belly strap should be undone when you do this.

3. Fasten the belly strap

First, adjust the shoulder and belly straps to make sure your dog is comfortable.

Then, reach underneath your dog to fasten the belly strap. Don’t let the belly strap slip below your dog’s armpit area.

4. Adjust the chest strap

Make sure that the chest strap is in a horizontal position and that it rests over your dog’s breastbone.

If it isn’t, loosen or tighten the strap to make it so.

5. Clip the leash on

Adjust the chest strap evenly on both sides to make sure that the harness D-ring is in the front, centered.

Clip the leash on, and you are ready to go.

Step-In Dog Harness

Unlike the previous overhead dog harnesses, this style is designed to have your dog step into the harness.

Some pet owners find it easier, and others are unable to use it – most of this depends on your dog and his temperament.

Generally, however, it is a very simple dog harness to put on and use, and you shouldn’t have any problems putting it on.

This is what a step-in dog harness looks like:

How to put on a step-in dog harness on your pet

4 Steps on How to Put On a Step-In Dog Harness:

1. Get into position

Lay the harness on the ground, unbuckle it, and get your dog to stand over the harness. Sit or stand behind your dog and hold him from behind.

2. Put your dog’s front feet in the triangles

In contrast to overhead harnesses, this style has triangles instead of rectangles for loops. When you lay the harness on the ground, you should see the two triangles clearly. Place your dog’s feet inside them.

3. Clip the strap buckles together on your dog's back
4. Adjust the harness to make sure that it fits perfectly

It can be tricky to figure out some harnesses in the beginning, but once you do, then you will be able to put them on easily every time.

The important thing is to make sure that the harness is not too tight but also not loose. It should be snug and fit on your dog’s body.

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Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs - Tarzan and Loki - in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.