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 his training, you may well be asking yourself “Does my puppy need a harness?” Here we explore the answer to that question.
What are the benefits of a Harness?
The benefits of a 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 his chest area. (You can also use a double ended lead attached to the back and chest point of a harness. This set up will also 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 his neck. This will be is a smaller area so the pressure will be greater.
Should puppies wear a collar or a harness?
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 who’s 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.
At what age can a puppy wear a harness?
You can put a harness on a puppy from 8 weeks old. The same as you would with his collar. If this is going to be your preferred item for walking, or you have been advised to use a harness for his breed, then it is best to get him used to wearing a harness from early on.
What are the best puppy harnesses?
Ideally, you want a harness that is soft and supple and 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. Check them out here!
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