Harness Styles for Dogs & Cats

Thursday, September 7, 2017  | The Pet Whisperer

With so many choices these days, it is hard to know what is the best device for comfortably restraining your pet whilst walking.

Sure, there are many pretty harnesses, and ones that look comfortable, but which one will be the best for you and your pet?


This information provided is a summary - we encourage you to find a good pet shop where you can try these devices out, and get an educated specific outline for your needs. At The Pet House, I have fitted countless harnesses for clients and once they head out for a test run, they start to see that although there are multiple devices hanging on the rack, they don't all perform the same. Please do not purchase based on what looks good.


The first thing we need to get out of the way is that travelling harnesses (for transport within vehicles) are a different device to those designed for walking.

A Dog Car Harness will usually be a multiple look structure that fits firmly around the neck and ribs to hold the dog securely. These are required to be strong and sturdy to prevent escape from the device, and to ensure that should the worse occur and an accident happen, then the harness is very much the life saving seatbelt for the dog.

The rear strap of the Car Harness is angled forward of the body to meet the neck look above the shoulder. This is a comfortable position for the dog whilst they calmly sit in the car whilst it is moving. A walking harness on the other hand, which may look similar, has the rear loop more vertical from rib belly so that the hinging movement of the front leg is not impacted by the loop (which would be the case if the dog was walking in a Car Harness).

The Car Harness is finished by some form of attachment to the car.


The main features you should look for in a Walking Harness:

  • Easy to fit

  • Fits snuggly to avoid escape, pressure in undesired locations, over matted hair

  • Allows full freedom of movement

  • Gives you direction control

  • Is comfortable

  • Is strong enough for your dog

  • and discourages the dogs natural urge to pull when wearing a harness.


 Some hints to help you narrow down to what is appropriate based on the list above are:

  • The further forward on the dog that the lead attaches to, the more directional control you have

  • A two loop nylon walking harness is the only suitable design for a cat. I simply would not choose to use anything else on a cat.

  • Pretty nearly never leads to functional.

  • Martingale loops help using gentle pressure to signal information to the dog.

  • The fewer the material, the less hair mats it can create.

  • Pick one which is adjustable in the right places.


And, remember, you need advice from trained staff - make sure they know what they are selling, and are not selling from marketing preference or brand alliance.

The harness is an important device for you to have your pet safely restrained, in a comfortable product, that discourages bad behaviour. It needs to be the right tool for the job.


The Pet Whisperer.