We’re not sure about you, but we prefer taking our dogs for a walk, rather than them taking us. We also like the idea of keeping all our arms in their joints. After all, the best belly rubs are done with two hands. Unfortunately, although it’s definitely not your furry friend’s intention, the excitement of hitting the open road gets the better of him, and your snail pace is far too slow. Maybe it is time you considered a harness. But what is it for, does it work and what is the best dog harness for small dogs?
What is a Dog Harness Used For
“Yes, but what is a dog harness used for?” we hear you ask. “And aren’t they for larger breeds only?”
This is a common misconception, as the right harness has loads of benefits for a small dog too. Let’s be honest, even smaller breeds get excited their outdoor walks, and if you’re one of those dog walkers that just need to be yelling “Mush! Mush!” as you get dragged through the park, you definitely want one.
Not only are they safer than collars when you are walking or training your dog, they are also recommended by trainers and vets. A harness disperses pressure equally over a larger area and gives you more control, without the risk of accidentally injuring your pet.
The best dog harness for small dogs has other benefits. Let’s take a look at what these are.
Gives you better control
A well-made harness gives you the control you need when you and your pup are out and about. Whether he’s just learning to walk with a leash or gets a little excited around people and other dogs, a harness allows you to guide or pull your pooch back on track, without hurting his throat or neck.
No more pulling (or being pulled)
A harness does a really good job when it comes to stopping your dog from pulling. Even smaller dogs, with enough determination, can pull a small child or elderly person off their feet.
It’s a safe option
If you have a dog that gets tangled up in his leash or is a bit of a Houdini, slipping out of his collar whenever possible, a harness is a great option. It allows you to keep a firm grip without hurting him (or yourself) and keep them out of harm’s way.
Better for breathing
If you have a breed that battles with breathing, like a bulldog or a pug, then a harness is definitely a good idea. A collar can restrict breathing even more and make what should be a fun activity uncomfortable for your pup.
Our Top 10 Harnesses for Small Dogs
Harnesses are becoming more popular, which means there are more to choose from. While this is definitely good news, it also means you need to know which are good, which are better and which are the best.
We’ve carefully selected our best dog harness choices for small dogs, and we know we’ve covered all our bases. Regardless of your budget, your needs as well as your dog’s style, there is something for everyone.
URPOWER Dog Leash Harness
The URPOWER Dog Leash Harness is an excellent choice if you want a step-in, no-pull harness. What we like about this particular one is that it is easy to put on and take, and doesn’t need major adjusting. We also think the trendy denim harness is on point style-wise.
Regarding durability, the two thick layers of denim are fortified with heavy-duty stitching and will handle everyday wear and tear. The design of the harness isn’t bulky so it won’t irritate your dog, and because it doesn’t wrap around the armpit area, there is no chafing.
Price wise, the URPOWER is excellent value for money and is available in three different sizes.
PetSafe Easy Walk Harness
The PetSafe Easy Walk Harness is precisely what you need if you’re the owner of a bulldog, pug or any other brachycephalic (that’s a fancy name for flat-faced) types of dog. The comfortable harness one strap that goes around your pet’s chest, and another one that goes over his shoulder and around his belly.
It doesn’t only stop him from pulling on the leash, the design protects his neck from pressure, and the adjustable straps distribute it evenly. Also, there is a metal leash loop that connects to a nylon loop that tightens across his chest as he tries to pull. The harness has four adjustment points, and martingale style clip allows it to stay relaxed when your pup isn’t pulling.
Kurgo Tru-Fit No Pull Dog Harness
The Kurgo Tru-Fit No-Pull Harness is available in various sizes, including extra-small and small. It has quick release buckles that make it easy to put on and take off, and we like the padded chest plate that offers additional comfort. You can also choose between two attachment positions, depending on the age of your dog and whether he’s used to walking on a leash or not.
Something else that is worth keeping in mind with the Kurgo Tru-Fit is that it can be adjusted to grow with your pet, which means you save money in the long run. The design of this particular harness with its no-pull D-ring offers a better fit and stops it from slipping. It’s ideal for dogs that pull or resist walking.
All in all, this is an excellent choice that gives you, the owner more control, and allows your pooch to enjoy a comfortable, stress-free walk.
Copatchy No Pull Reflective Adjustable Dog Harness
The Copatchy No-Pull Reflective Harness is a great choice if you are on a budget. Easy on the pocket, and with its simple design, the harness is simple to put on and take off and even has a top handle for more control.
If your dog is used to walking on a leash, enjoys laid-back outings and doesn’t pull or tug, this is a perfect choice. The harness is available in a wide range of colors, and the very affordable price means you can buy one of each.
Ruffwear – Front Range All-Day Adventure Harness for Dogs
The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is built for all day, everyday wear. It’s for the dog that loves adventure, running and exploring, and best of all it’s easy to put on and take off. There are four adjustment points, which means you are able to get a really comfortable fit and the different leash points allow for more or less control. For example, the point on the chest is for training, while the one on the back is for relaxed walks.
The harness comes with reflective trim for safety, and better visibility and the smart little addition of an ID pocket keeps your dog’s tag safe and stops annoying jingly sounds. Of all the harnesses reviewed, this is the only one that is available in XXS.
Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
The Rabbitgoo harness has both an adjustable neck and chest girth to ensure a very comfortable fit, whether your dog is walking or running. There is ample padding that prevents accidental choking, and the reflective straps are good for night walks.
The harness is in the shape of an upside-down T-shape that fits well around your dog’s neck and his torso, which distributes the weight evenly. The adjustable straps allow for a snug fit without being too tight. And if he’s an escape artist, he’s not going to be able to slip out of it easily.
The back and front rings for the leash let you adjust it according to your dog’s size, or you can use two leashes at once for even better control. Although we don’t think you’ll need it. The Rabbitgoo is a quality harness that is durable and will last a long time.
Pawaboo Dog Safety Vest Harness
The Pawaboo Dog Safety Vest Harness is a combination between a harness for walking, as well as a safe option for when he’s in the car with you. It’s padded for extra comfort and keeps your pooch under control, with just enough movement to not irritate or frustrate him.
The vest harness is made of a lightweight but durable material, and it is easy to put on and take off. Once you get to your destination, just unclip the included seatbelt and use it as a typical harness.
The Pawaboo is suitable for dogs weighing between 11 and 33 pounds.
The Original EcoBark Maximum Comfort & Control Dog Harness
The Original EcoBark Dog Harness has a lot going for it, from its affordable price to the eco-friendly materials it’s made from. This is an excellent choice if you aren’t interested in all the bells and whistles and just want a good harness to keep your dog safe and comfortable.
The harness itself is made using a durable material that is made from recycled water bottles (yes, you read that correctly) and it is available in different sizes and colors.
The EcoBark harness has adjustable chest and neck straps for a secure fit, and the breathable mesh means it is suitable for all weather conditions, and works well whether your dog is running, walking or hiking with you. Another feature we like, over and above everything else we have already mentioned, is its no-choke design because of the wide chest strap.
Slowton Dog Car Harness Plus Connector Strap
While it’s loads of fun cruising down the strip with your pooch by your side, it’s best to make sure you’re both buckled up. The Slowton Dog Car Harness with a connector strap not only keep your dog safe, it also keeps him comfortable.
The connector strap attaches to the car’s seatbelt latch from the harness. It is adjustable so you can set it at the perfect length and it is made using a breathable mesh fabric. The harness is easy to put on and take off, and the four buttons make for no-fuss adjusting.
JUXZH Soft Front Dog Harness
The JUXZH Soft Front Harness offers comfort, durability, and style all in one. There are seven colors to choose from, including a very fashionable fuschia. The harness is made of a reflective material which increases visibility and keeps your dog (and you) safe.
Other safety features include nylon webbing, as well as a solid handle that you can attach to a seat belt. It is made with a comfortable mesh that has extra padding in the belly and chest areas, and the design ensures your dog won’t injure himself or choke.
The JUXZH harness has to attachment points for the leash; one on the back and the other on the chest, which you can change according to your needs. This is a well-made product that will stop your dog pulling.
How to Put on a Dog Harness
Hopefully, you’ve chosen the best dog harness for your small dog from our list, and are rearing to go “walkies.” The only thing left to do is find how to put on a dog harness correctly.
First of all, let’s take a look at how to put on a step-in harness.
Start off by unbuckling the harness and laying it flat on the floor. The D-ring should be stretched out.
When you are ready, get your dog to stand over the harness. It is better if he is calm, and preferably not lying down.
One at a time, slowly place your dog’s front legs in the loops.
When it is on, take the buckle and wrap it around your pooch. Now you can adjust the size so that it fits. Remember not too tight or too loose. A good way to check this is by slipping two fingers in between the dog and strap.
Now pull down on the harness at the front, ensuring your dog can’t get his paws out the holes. Also, check that the front loop is at the center of his chest and the D-ring sits comfortably in the middle of his back.
Finally, when you are happy that everything is safe and secure, you can clip the leash on. And you’re good to go.
Now, let’s go over putting on an overhead harness.
Your dog must be in a sitting position. Sit behind him and make sure you are able to move easily from the back to the front.
Before you slip the harness over his head, loosen it and unbuckle the snaps or clasps.
Slowly slip one paw through the hole and then do the same with the corresponding leg or paw.
Once you have done that, you must pull the other strap behind the other front leg. The harness should wrap along his side.
Check that the harness is on properly and then clip all the buckles.
Make the necessary adjustments and do the “two finger” test as mentioned above.
Pull on the buckle and make sure it isn’t loose. Just like with the step-in harness, the D-ring should be in the middle of your dog’s back and the front loop in the middle of his chest.
It’s time to put the leash on and hit the open road.
Where to Measure a Small Dog for a Harness
Three main areas need to be measured when you are choosing a harness for your small dog. These include:
Measuring the Topline
If you are unsure where the topline starts and ends, it’s the length of a dog’s back, from where his neck joins his body, to the base of the tail. For the most accurate size, it must be measured along the top of the spine.
Measuring the Neck
When you measure your dog’s neck, the best place is where his collar would rest naturally and comfortably. Remember, this measurement must be taken all the way around his neck.
Measuring the Girth
The girth, or chest, is the biggest part of the ribcage just behind the front legs.
Something to keep in mind is if the measurement is between two sizes, opt for the larger one.
What do you need to measure your dog
Right, so you know where you need to measure, but what tools will make the job a whole lot easier?
Ideally, you want a flexible tape measure. If you don’t have one, you can use a piece of string with a ruler, and get the measurement that way.
Your dog needs to be measured in an upright, natural position, so a flat surface is preferable. For little dogs, your table will do just fine.
Sounds like an obvious one, but have paper and pen close by. You’ll be surprised how quickly you forget numbers when you really need to remember them.
If your dog doesn’t like standing still or is a little skittish, get someone to help.
Oh yes, you also need your dog.
How to Measure your small dog for a harness
You have the dog, the tape measure, pen and paper and you know which parts need to be measured. Now it’s time to do the measuring.
Make sure your dog is standing straight with his legs spaced in a natural position, with his tail and head up.
Take each of the measurements, keeping the tape measure slightly loose. You want your dog to be comfortable and able to breathe and move around. Write down the actual measurements, without including overlapping or closures. The manufacturer will include these.
Measure once, and the measure and measure again to make sure you have the numbers correct. A harness that is too tight can cause skin irritations, and one that is too loose won’t serve its purpose.
Once your pup gets accustomed to walking with a harness rather than a collar, you’ll both wonder how you managed before.
Is your best dog harness for small dogs on our list, or have we left it off? Let us know in the comments below.