When Does My Dog Need a Harness?


If you have only ever walked your dog with a collar, you might be wondering why some dogs need harnesses. The choice of walking gear for your dog may be overwhelming, but we are here to help you understand when a harness makes a sensible option.

Do harnesses help particular breeds more than others?

There are certain breeds of dog you might be more likely to see wearing a harness. Certainly, brachycephalic dogs (think: bulldogs, pugs, etc.) are greatly assisted by walking with a harness. Their flatter faces can lead to breathing difficulties, or even tracheal collapse. A traditional collar and leash puts some pressure on a dog’s throat, which brachycephalic dogs can find hard to handle.

Also, consider whether your dog is prone to pulling or lunging while on the leash. If they are an excitable breed which often drags you along, they might benefit from a harness to reduce any harsh pressure on their airways. It will also help you to reduce their lunging if trained appropriately!

Which medical conditions might be helped by a harness?

There are some canine injuries and conditions which can be improved by wearing a harness:

  • Leg or back injuries. If your dog is suffering from any kind of leg or back injury, wearing a harness can help you assist them as required. You will have more control over their movement and be able to help them navigate tricky areas. Be sure to determine which of your dog’s legs are weakest, as you can purchase support harnesses for the front, mid-section or back of your dog.
  • Arthritic or three-legged dogs. If your dog is hindered due to arthritis or has unfortunately lost one of its legs, a harness can help you guide them when climbing steps or entering vehicles.
  • If your dog has become paralyzed, a dog lift harness makes a great option in addition to its wheelchair. They can live a more active lifestyle with the help of the harness, instead of being confined to the wheelchair at all times. Also, a lifting harness can help you quickly take your dog outdoors to go to the bathroom if they cannot make it to their wheelchair in time!
  • Dogs in rehabilitation. Whether they are building up strength following surgery or overcoming a mobility issue, a dog in rehabilitation will benefit from the extra support of a harness. They will be able to rebuild muscle mass faster if they are able to take more steps. Additionally, a support harness is great for keeping dogs upright during underwater treadmill sessions.

Jack Vale is a writer for Walkin’ Pets, a leading expert in dog mobility solutions.