For dogs of a certain size, the front-clip harness is going to save the strain on your shoulders and help your dog learn not to pull. But for small dogs or dogs with health issues (like a trachea that tends to collapse), a back-clip or step-in harness can be helpful.
I use a back-clip harness with Danny on occasion for two reasons. When we go on vacation at a cabin where he’ll be tied out to a stake while we barbecue or do other non-dog things with him, a back-clip harness works better than a front-clip, and he can’t wiggle out of it as easily as he can just a collar. I also use it while hiking, since Danny has been known to take crazy leaps and end up dangling in the air. I do not want him trying that with only a collar, but I don’t need the control of a front-clip harness on the trail.
There is no way I’m going to get my dog into that thing. Of course there’s a way. It just takes practice.
- Line up the harness in front of you. The smaller front loop will go over his head. The larger rear loop — the one with the buckle — will clip behind his front legs.
- Crouch down and slip the first loop on.
- Have your dog lift his front left leg (he’ll probably need help) and put it into the harness.
- Bring the strap under his belly and click it together, probably somewhere near his right leg.
- The D-ring should be on top at the back, behind his shoulder blades.
- Make any size adjustments. Use the two-finger rule: you should be able to slide two fingers under any of the straps comfortably.
- Clip the leash to the ring, give lots of treats and praise, and take a little practice walk.
There is no right or wrong side for the leash to be on with a step-in harness, like there is with a front-clip. Also, getting a harness on a small dog is way easier and probably requires fewer steps than this little tutorial.
But no matter what size your dog, go slow so they aren’t afraid of it, and associate the harness with good things: treats, walks, car rides, belly rubs, whatever floats their fuzzy little boats.