How to Fit a Dog Harness
Posted by Keith Anderson on 14th July 2022
You're ready to purchase a new harness for your dog, but there are so many options out there. How do you get the perfect style, size, and fit? Never fear. We've created this handy guide to walk you through the process.
Still trying to decide whether a harness is right for your dog? Here are a few things to consider.
How to Measure Your Dog for the Right Size Harness
Selecting the proper size harness for your dog is the first order of business. To get started, you'll need a flexible cloth measuring tape and your furry friend. Then follow these simple steps:
Chest: Measure around your dog's torso, starting at the bottom of the rib cage and going up and over her back and then back down to where you started.
Neck: Wrap the tape around the thickest part of your dog's neck, just above her shoulders (not where she would normally wear her collar, which is narrower). Write down that measurement.
Weight: While chest and neck measurements are the most accurate ways to fit a dog, many harness companies use weight to guide sizing. If you're having trouble getting your furry friend on the scale, weigh yourself first, then pick up your pooch and weigh the two of you together. The difference will be the weight of your dog.
We have created a handy How to Measure Your Dog Video to help you with these measurements.
Once you have your measurements, you're ready to shop online or head to the store.
|Size||Neck (A)||Chest (B)||Dog Weight|
|X-Small||9 - 13 in (23 - 33 cm)||12 - 18 in (30 - 46 cm)||5 - 10 lbs (2 - 5 kg)|
|Small||12 - 20 in (30 - 50 cm)||16 - 22 in (41 - 56 cm)||10 - 25 lbs (5 - 11 kg)|
|Medium||16 - 25 in (40 - 63 cm)||18 - 28 in (46 - 71 cm)||25 - 50 lbs (11 - 23 kg)|
|Large||18 - 30 in (46 - 76 cm)||24 - 34 in (61 - 86 cm)||50 - 80 lbs (23 - 36 kg)|
|X-Large||24 - 35 in (61 - 89 cm)||28 - 44 in (71 - 112 cm)||80 - 110 lbs (36 - 50 kg)|
You'll find the suggested sizing for most harnesses on the back of the box or in the online product description. In most cases, the sizing ranges will overlap. For example, the neck size of a medium harness might be 16-25" while the large is 18"-30". If your dog falls within the range for both sizes on both the neck and chest, we suggest you select the larger size.
How to Set Up an Overhead Harness (for Your First Outing)
Before hitting the trail with your dog in her new harness, you first want to make sure you've set up the harness correctly. Loosen all the straps before putting the harness on your dog for the first time. The harness should be as easy to slip on as possible. Once the harness is on, you can tighten the straps for a proper fit.
Step 1: Slide the harness over your dog's head. Do not tighten the straps at this point.
Step 2: Lift up the chest piece so that it's touching your dog's chest and belly.
Step 3: Locate the two buckles on the chest piece (one on either side of your dog, behind the front legs). Fasten the buckles to the back of the harness.
Step 4: Adjust the sides of the harness to fit snugly—you should be able to fit two (and only two) fingers between your dog and the harness at any point.
Step 5:Adjust the belly of your harness (if applicable) to fit snugly.Only some harnesses, like Kurgo's Tru-Fit Smart Harness (with 5 adjustment points),include an adjustment point on the stomach.
Step 6: Finally, adjust the neck of your harness to fit snugly.
How to Put on an Overhead Harness
Once you've adjusted your harness for the proper fit, putting it on should be a breeze. Follow the directions below or use our How to Put on an Overhead Harness Infographic.
Step 1: Slide the harness over your dog's head.
Step 2: Swing the chest piece up so that it's touching your dog's chest and belly.
Step 3: Fasten the two buckles on the chest piece (one on either side of your dog, behind the front legs) to the back of the harness.
Signs of a Poor Fit
Any of the following are signs that your harness isthe improper size or not fitted properly.
- Bare spots (loss of fur) around the harness area
- Chafing around the harness area
- Dog is able to wiggle free
- Back piece of the harness rotates to either side
- Dog strongly resists walking
If you notice one or more of these signs, refer to the How to Measure Your Dog Videoor size chart above to ensure you have the correct size harness. Once you're confident that you have the right harness for your dog, you'll want to make sure you have the proper fit by following the above steps in “How to Set Up an Overhead Harness.”
It's worth putting in a little time upfront to select the best harness for your dog and to make sure it's sized and fitted properly. But after that, you'll be amazed at how quickly and easily you'll be able to slip on the harness and head out the door. Most harnesses can be put on in a few seconds, which is good news for both you and your adventuring pup!
Trying to decide which is better for your dog—a collar or a harness? The short answer is: You may need both. It really depends on the size and temperament of your dog and what it takes to maintain safe control of him.
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