Harnesses

Line of huskies in harness

Which harness is right for your dog?

 

Click to be guided to the most relevant harness

Fleece Walking Harness

Water-Repelling Walking Harness

For The Car

Sport Dog

Sledding

 

There are many different harnesses on the market, all of which are designed for different tasks and Xtra Dog stocks a range of six harnesses each with a specific purpose.

Here at Xtra Dog we also design walking harnesses as well as importing from the USA working harnesses specifally designed to encourage dogs to pull. For sledding, scootering, tracking, Cani-X (cross-country running with a dog), skijoring, bikejoring or roller blading it is essential to have the dog leaning forward and pulling into the harness. Pam Beckstrom from Adanac Sleds in the US, whose company designed the traditional X-Back harness (a standard for sledding sports and commonly used for Cani-X ) explains:

“It was over fifty years ago that Mel Fishback Riley, former Californian and a true sizing buttonMontanan, started designing and making the X-Back harnesses for racing, training with skis or bike,lead dog training and pleasure use. She started out making five types of X-Backs and laboriously hand-stitched freight and weight-pulling harnesses.
“In the beginning, Fishback did not have access to fleece padding so she used airline blanket seconds and mattress pad scraps on all her harnesses. She insisted on acrylic woven blankets because she said they held up better.”

The X-Back fits snugly around the neck of the dog and forms an 'X' across the dog’s back. The point of contact is at the base of the tail so it will encourage the dog to pull into the harness, thus making it ideal for any dog involved in pulling sports.
An X-Back is unsuitable for use on pets because they should only be used when the dog is going to run and not as an everyday harness. Here at Xtra Dog, our own dogs (Mischief, dalmatian, and Arapahoe, husky) are both pets as well as sledding dogs – they know when they see the X-back come out that we are off to pull – they start jumping about with excitement. However, they also know that when they wear a walking harness the job in hand is completely different.

Another alternative working harness is the multi-sport harness, also known as a shoulder harness, which has its point of contact halfway down the dog's back and can be used to both walk and work your dog. This harness is ideal if your dog is a tracking or cani-X dog and you normally walk him on a walking belt as it will not discourage him to pull on the lead.

Walking into a high-street pet shop, the choice of dog harness seems endless and many of them make claims that they will stop dogs pulling, but how many pet shop owners understand the principles of pulling dogs? We spoke to TV personality, dog trainer and Tellington TTouch instructor, Sarah Fisher:

Sarah Fisher“Any equipment used on a dog has an impact on his posture and as posture and behaviour are linked it is important that the equipment used is of benefit to both the dog and the handler.  Harnesses relieve pressure on the neck and can reduce common problems such as pulling, lunging and lead frustration, but if there is only one point of attachment on the back of the harness these problems can be exacerbated.  Dogs that are walked regularly in harnesses with just one point of attachment on the back often learn to brace through the shoulders and tighten the back which can have a detrimental effect on the dog.
“A dog has more than 60 per cent of his body weight over his forequarters and can naturally out walk a human. Having two points of contact (i.e. a back and front ring) is key to teaching dogs to move in balance by their handler’s side and many owners are stunned at the instant effect two points of contact have on their dog’s posture and behaviour when on the lead.”

We have designed our fleece harness with a front connection ring as well as a standard top ring. Many companies have simply added front rings to existing harnesses with the downside that they are not in the correct place. To effectively balance a dog and stop it pulling the front ring needs to sit on the point of the breastbone and not between the dog's legs.This harness is designed by Marie Miller, who is also a Tellington TTouch instructor and behaviourist based in the idlands. The idea is based on the front end of a sledding X-back harness; it sits on the shoulder of the dog, and goes under its front legs with two connections on the top and the front (breastbone). Marie explains more:

“There are a number of ways to help a dog to learn to walk in balance on a loose lead. The TTouch Balance Lead technique requires the use of a 6ft training lead. Arapahoe loose Lead WalkingThe simple action of looping the lead to form a containing barrier on the dog’s chest can be really helpful to teach him to walk in balance and can help the dog to regain self control if he becomes over excited. If he leans into the lead, briefly meet the pressure and then melt by relaxing again, giving the dog nothing to lean against. He may immediately lean again, so repeat until the dog stops leaning into the lead and stands/moves in his own balance. This is a smooth movement, not a jerk. Meet the pressure and then melt away.You can use the Meet and Melt technique when the dog is wearing a harness. You need a lead with a clip at either end so that you can have two points of contact. Your harness should have two rings, i.e. a ring on the back and a ring at the chest. ”

The Xtra Dog walking harness is not the only harness on the market that benefits from a front ring to stop dogs pulling. Sarah Fisher’s TTouch harness is also specifically designed for this purpose as well as other aspects of Tellington TTouch. If you are not sure what size harness you need click here to watch a video showing you how to measure your dog.

An important point to think about when buying a harnesses is the fit. There are too many dogs wearing harnesses that do not fit them correctly. Sadly, many manufacturers do not make harnesses in enough sizes and unfortunately pet shops often tend to sell harnesses that do not fit correctly. A harness should fit snugly, with space for two fingers all the way around.

Remember, whatever dog activity you do, you should use a harness designed for that job. A harness designed for sledding will not work for loose lead walking or flyball. There is nothing worse than getting a nice new harness only to find that it is either the wrong size or not suitable for the job intended. For example, we have had many customers who have bought our fleece walking harness and asked if it can be used for Cani-X. The problem with this scenario is that a walking harness will balance a dog and stop it pulling whilst a multi-sport type of harness or an X-back are both ideal for Cani-X and will allow the dog to lean forward and pull.

Xtra Dog also sells car harnesses; this is because walking and sport harnesses are not designed to provide the necessary support in the event of an accident.

We also  offer  fully crash tested car harnesses. these harnesses have been independently crash-tested and passed tests.

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