Fitting A Dog Harness
This entry was posted on 11th July 2013.
Fitting a harness.
It’s not as difficult as it might seem but there a large variety of harnesses available which can make fitting a dog harness seem like a daunting task. The key is measurements. Below we have listed the types of harness that we would recommend for different activities, hopefully making it a little easier.
When fitting a harness it is essential to take the measurements, not rely soley on ‘breed guides’, that’s why we don’t use them.
The key measurements are the neck and the dog’s girth. It is also useful to know the dogs weight. Then depending on the type of harness you may also need the length of the dogs back.
You will also see that on the website under Dog Harnesses we have set subcategories for different activities to help make the choice easier.
Fitting a working harness.
This is often different than fitting a standard everyday walking harness.
You might be surprised just how many times we hear, “What size harness do I need for a Lab?” or “What harness will fit a pointer?” Unfortunately there is no clear standard in dog sizes and also no standard in the size of equipment. So a medium harness by one manufacturer might be considerably larger that a medium in another. Also the size on the label doesn’t relate to the size of the dog. A small doesn’t mean it is for a small dog, a large for a larger dog etc. The key to getting the right size is taking the measurements.
The main measurements you will need for fitting a harness are the neck size, this is often taken closer to the shoulders that you would when measuring for a collar. The girth, this is the measurement around the deepest part of the chest. The length of the back, from the base of the neck to the base of the tail (keeping the tape measure straight, not following the curve of the back) and the dog’s weight.
When fitting a working harness the neck will generally be tighter than you are used to when fitting a collar (the two finger rule does not apply) so don’t be alarmed if it feels a little more snug than expected. This ensures that the dog is taking the force on the strongest part of their shoulders and keeping the harness away from their shoulder joints. If it is too loose around the shoulder the straps will start to press on the shoulder joint itself and impinge movement becoming uncomfortable for the dog.
If you are fitting the harness for a dog with a heavy coat or a lot of lose skin around the scruff then you will need to pull some of this through to ensure neck of the harness sits correctly on the dog.
This can differ depending on whether you are fitting a short shoulder pull harness or a long harness. The key aspect to look at when fitting the length, if it is the longer harness like and x-back, is that the open V at the base cannot be pulled down over the dog rear and fall behind the legs. This is too long. The V or attachment point should sit just at the base of the tail.
This is the one that may ultimately affect your dog’s performance the most. If you don’t get this right and the harness is too tight your dog will not be able to breath well. If the dog starts to feel short of breath then this will put them in the most discomfort and ultimately they won’t perform. Also because of the way the dog moves when running then it could start to rub.
Essentially the message here is to measure you dog well. If need be take the measurement several times and take the average. Don’t 'guess-timate'. With any working harness it needs to be comfortable for the dog. If the harness doesn’t fit properly then it will essentially discourage the dog from pulling well and changing to a well fitted harness makes a noticeable difference.