Step By Step – How To Put On A Dog Harness

(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

Why Use A Harness?

As compared to using collars, dog harnesses are relatively safer to use. Collars can put pressure on the neck of your dog, while harnesses distribute the force better and put less of a strain on your pup’s body. As such, a harness is the better option for training as compared to pinch or chain collars. Collars that further hurt your dog are more likely to cause more and aggravate behavioral concerns rather than correct them.

10 Best Dog Harnesses: My Absolute Recommendations

While collars are pretty standard, harnesses have more variations to choose from, each serving a different purpose than the others. However, there are only two main types that you should familiarize yourself with how to put on your dog: a step-in harness and an overhead harness. This guide should teach you how to put on each of these main types, as all the others are pretty much a variation of either of them.

Why The Need For This Guide?

You may be wondering why there’s a need to write a guide on how to properly put on a dog harness, considering it sounds like something pretty standard. But when you see a harness and all its clips, buckles, and straps, you may find yourself confused as to how you should put it on your dog without entangling the both of you in the process. But apart from that, putting a harness on wrong can have a negative effect on your dog. If put on incorrectly, your dog might pull on the harness in order to get more comfortable in it. When this happens, you might mistake the tugging and pulling as misbehavior when in reality your pup’s just trying to ease the pain or discomfort it’s in.

More than that, your dog may have to adjust its gait due to the restrictions that the incorrectly worn harness is putting on its body. This can lead to tight muscles and structural imbalance, not to mention becoming a safety hazard for your dog. Worst case scenario is that your dog manages to slip out of the harness and runs away. It’s a more common problem that you might realize.

2 Main Types And How To Put Them On

No matter what kind of harness you’re going to put on your dog, it’s best if you teach your dog to stand still when a harness is being put on it. It’s best to get your dog used to the process. In case your dog is still a little unused to the harness and fidgety, then giving your pup a treat can help a lot with getting your dog to stay still.


  • Check if the harness has a guide on which loop is the left and which one is the right
  • Unbuckle harness and lay flat on the ground
  • Guide your dog to stand over the harness, with their legs right above the corresponding holes that they should be in
  • Put your dog’s front paws into each of the loops
  • Pull the harness up and around your dog’s chest
  • Buckle the strap on your dog’s back or side, depending on where the buckle is

Over The Head

  • Check the guide to determine which hole your dog’s head is supposed to go in
  • Slip the loop onto your dog’s neck
  • Pull the bottom straps under your dog’s belly and the top strap across your dog’s back
  • If still confused about the positioning, the D-ring should be positioned on either your dog’s back or chest
  • Buckle the straps on the sides

The Proper Fit

Apart from ensuring that your dog’s harness is put on correctly, the proper fit must also be achieved. A harness too loose can enable your dog to escape, while a too tight one can cause chaffing, discomfort, or cuts and also affect your dog’s range of motion. If your dog is uncomfortable, then it might not want to go for a walk or training in that harness.

Upon choosing the harness for your dog, you want to know that the clip hangs higher up on your dog’s chest. Of course it shouldn’t be too tight so as not to impede your dog’s movement, as that will also pose problems for you when it comes to buckling the harness. Usually, dog harnesses are available in a range of sizes, from extra small to extra large. Generally you will have a good idea of what will fit your dog best, but it’s best to be sure.

Depending on the type of harness that you get for your dog, there can be at least 2 points of adjustment, sometimes even more. Similar to collars, the adjusting points on a harness are the usual sliding buckles. To adjust, all you have to do is slide it through the buckle. To make your dog comfortable, you’re going to have to adjust all these points and not just one or two of them. Make sure that each is just the right tightness, which is enough for you to slip two fingers between the harness and your dog’s body. The same rule is generally followed for tightening dog collars.

Once you’ve tightened each point, make sure that the fit of the entire harness is just right. It shouldn’t slide back and forth across your dog’s chest and body, it shouldn’t be lopsided, and neither should it slide up above its shoulders. When done right, your dog should look comfortable and relaxed in the harness, and that it’s not rubbing against your dog’s skin.

One thing to remember when finally putting it on your dog: be gentle, calm, and confident. If your dog feels that you trust the harness, then it will too.

While learning how to put on a dog harness properly can be quite difficult at first, but luckily you’re just going to have to put it on right the first time. Once the first time is done, it should pretty much stay secure for the next times you’ll put in on your dog. That being said, you should still do a cursory check every time and adjust, but only if necessary.

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