Ultimately, any accessory we put on our dogs is either for training or aesthetics. If we all had impeccably trained dogs who walked to heel with perfect recall, we’d have no need for harnesses and leads! Think working dogs herding sheep! So if you’re starting out with a puppy and their training, you may well wonder, “Do you need a harness for a puppy?” Here we explore the answer to that question.

What are the benefits of a puppy harness?

The benefits of a puppy harness include reducing the risk of neck injuries and helping to avoid eye problems in certain breeds. A drawback of a harness can be that some dogs feel restricted. 

The physics of a harness means that IF a dog pulls on a standard lead when attached to the back point of a harness, the pulling sensation is spread evenly across their chest area. (You can also use a double ended lead attached to the back and chest point of a harness. This set up will spread the load evenly, but will also pull your dog’s direction in front of you. This is used as a training technique to improve and encourage good walking. Check out our blog on using a double ended lead here.)

If a dog pulls on the lead when wearing a collar, the same pulling sensation is focussed on only their neck. This will be is a smaller area so the pressure will be greater. 

Is a collar or harness better for a puppy?

All dogs must wear a collar with identification, it's the law, so there is no “or” about it. But the question “should puppies wear a collar and a harness?” is relevant. Most dog owners who have a well-trained dog who walks to heel and has good recall, happily just use a collar and lead. Their dog won’t be pulling whilst on the lead, so there won’t be unnecessary pressure on their necks. However, someone whose dog is a puller might end up using a collar AND a harness when they are out and about.

For some short-nosed breed puppies such as bulldogs and pugs, who are prone to respiratory issues, a harness will be the best choice to avoid pressure on the windpipe. Otherwise, your decision on using a harness will depend on your training progress and personal preference. Every puppy is different and has his or her own personality. If you are attending puppy classes, your trainer may be able to help with whether your puppy needs a harness or not.

What age can you put a harness on a puppy?

You can put a harness on a puppy from 8 weeks old. The same as you would with their collar. If this is going to be your preferred item for walking, or you have been advised to use a harness for their breed, then it is best to get them used to wearing a harness from early on.

Best harness for puppies

To summarise, it can depend on various factors, but it can often be a good idea to have your puppy wear both a collar and a harness, especially for training purposes. Ideally, you want a harness that is soft and supple with a good, comfortable fit.

Our Oscar & Hooch harnesses come in 7 sizes with our smallest sizes suitable for most puppies. We use our super soft suedette fabric and softex webbing along with 4 points of adjustment to ensure ultimate comfort.

Alongside our range of harnesses, we also offer a variety of collars including our martingale range, neon range and signature range.

For other puppy blogs, subscribe up to our newsletter (➡️over up there!) or check them out here.

Puppy Harness FAQs

Is it better to walk a puppy with a harness or a collar?

A flat collar is best for everyday wear and for displaying ID tags, however, adding a harness is the safest option for going on walks.

Does an 8-week-old puppy need a harness?

A puppy can begin wearing a harness from 8 weeks old, and it’s often recommended to use a harness for training purposes. Harnesses make it easier to control your puppy and reduce the risk of injury. 

How do you train a puppy to walk beside you?

Start inside the house and walk around a room. Call your dog's name and point to the side you want them to walk on. As soon as they come alongside you, reward them.

What are the different types of puppy harnesses?

  • The back-clip is a popular choice and easy to use. It’s attachable at the rear of the harness, which reduces the risk of throat injuries.
  • The front-clip provides excellent control over your dog, and limits pulling. The front clip is located under the dog’s chin, in front of the chest.
  • The dual-clip combines the control of the front-clip and the ease of the back-clip, giving you the best of both worlds!