Harness Help

Desiree RamirezDesiree Ramirez Posts: 42Member
edited 15 November, 2014 in Sports & Agility
So I'm on the search for a new harness for Beo. His current one is just a step in H shaped one from Petco. It's okay, but I can tell it's not horribly comfortable for him and when he pulls against it he starts to cough. The harness would be used for hiking and long walks (like hours of walking) on a ling line so it needs to have a connection at the top, not on his front. I know most people hike dogs off leash, but Beo is a high flight risk with high prey drive so he can't be off. It also needs to be strong enough to withstand his pulling and not hurt him. He currently has a leather convertible slip collar (meaning I am switch it from regular to slip), which I love but I'm not sure if I should spend the money on a leather harness. I'm not a fan of the Easywalk (again need clip on his back) and he is uncomfortable with his step in and roman harness. There's still so many choices and I'm not sure what to do without breaking the bank either. And we are starting agility in the fall so I'm not sure if this will need to be factored in as well. I'm horribly picky I know lol.


  • Jess DavisJess Davis Posts: 833Member
    edited 31 March, 2014
    You'll want a y-front harness that doesn't impede leg movement. Try Hurtta's padded Y harness. http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=3374&ParentCat=785
  • Christine VChristine V New EnglandPosts: 7,242Member
    edited 4 April, 2014
    This is exactly why I just bought Ember a -joring harness. Manmat Guard/Distance Harness And of course, the bonus for me in that route is that I can also hook her up to a bike and take off, if I am so inclined.
  • John SchaferJohn Schafer PhiladelphiaPosts: 410Member ✭✭
    edited 5 April, 2014
    Try an x back harness like dog mushers use. I take my husky mix,Wesley,for long hikes and this type of harness is padded and doesn`t choke the dog. I got mine from Black Ice in MN.:)
  • Christine VChristine V New EnglandPosts: 7,242Member
    edited 7 April, 2014
    IMO an x-back harness is not appropriate for anything but actively pulling. The harness relies on tension to stay in place, and won't fit correctly without it. I know many people do bikejor and canicross in x-backs, but personally I don't like the way the harness tends to lift up off the dog's back if you're much taller, or if he changes pace. You don't get this problem with the guard/distance harnesses. If agility is a must, an x-back absolutely will not work. The guard/distance might be bulkier than you want, although I have no issues at all running flyball in it. Flyball isn't agility, either. If safely pulling is a must, and something super light is a must, you'll likely need two harnesses. I love the idea of leather, but in practice it's difficult to fit. Either you need some way to adjust it, which gets bulky, or it comes custom fit but might stretch with use. I've seen some done very well, but they come with a hefty price tag. Leather also tends to be on the heavy side.
  • Desiree RamirezDesiree Ramirez Posts: 42Member
    edited 8 April, 2014
    The Hurtta and guard/distance harness look nice, but they honestly reminds me a little of his step in with the difference being the neck strap isn't adjustable. The way the strap meets in the front like that always digs into his chest when he pulls and causes him to cough. An x-back is big no-no I've heard for escape artists. Beo will buck, back up, and go crazy when he sees prey (rabbits, robins, squirrels...) so if there is any chance he can slip out I want to avoid it. I'm more looking for one that will be comfortable and let him pull if he wants, but not designed for just pulling. I think the leather ones I liked mainly because a lot of them had a wide, padded chest plate that distributed pressure across the chest. Although leather is very handsome it is definitely expensive! :( What is people's opinion on the Ruffwear web master? Or this: http://www.fordogtrainers .com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=67&products_id=3677 (delete the space) Someone told me they just use a slip lead for agility so I wasn't sure if I needed to really factor agility into harness selection or not.
  • Jess DavisJess Davis Posts: 833Member
    edited 8 April, 2014
    Yeah I just use a slip lead, if anything, for agility. You might also just get a light collar without tags for use just when in class.
  • Christine VChristine V New EnglandPosts: 7,242Member
    edited 9 April, 2014
    This is what is typically referred to as a step-in harness. Are you using something different? I have not used the Hurtta, but the Guard/Distance is different than a step-in harness. A non-adjustable neck strap makes a huge difference, or so I've found. If you put pressure on an adjustable piece of nylon for hours, it loosens. Then the harness slips up too far and before long the dog is choking. On that note, proper fit is everything. A lot of mass produced harnesses (for Petco, etc) are made with too dramatic differences between sizes and so they only actually fit a small number of dogs. They also tend to be made for very tiny, or Lab-sized, overweight dogs. A wide chest plate is not necessary for pulling. If anything, that's going to rub armpits and throw a dog's gait off. As long as the straps are thick, and placed to distribute weight, it shouldn't be an issue. The straps on the guard/distance are 1 1/8" nylon against padding that brings the neck to about 2", the chest and back to about 1 1/2". I don't have the harness with me right now, so I don't have exact measurements. The padding is firm enough to distribute weight, unlike many harnesses that use materials like fleece as padding - which does prevent the nylon from rubbing but serves little purpose otherwise. And it's held together with metal O rings, which allows it to move with your dog, rather than your dog moving around it. I've been using it for several months now, and I haven't had any issues with choking, rubbing or impeded movement. Recently another member of our flyball team purchased one for her very intense, still-in-training dog, who has scarring from improperly treated kennel cough. He's only a few weeks in, but has been doing great with it so far. You can add a belly strap to an x-back for escape artists, so that's not such an issue. It's more that the harness would need to be pulled on to really work correctly. I have a Ruffwear Webmaster for both of my dogs. In my experience, about 50% of dogs hate wearing them. There's too much coverage over the back, and they just don't like moving under it. You can work with this hiking or something, but when you're doing flyball or agility where you're both under pressure and really need your dog to be as comfortable as possible to get the best performance, it just does not work. The Webmaster is fully adjustable, but it does stay where adjusted to fairly well. They are the same basic set up in front as the guard/distance harness... It looks different, but it is hitting all the same points on the dog. It does not stay in place well when a dog pulls - the back tends to lift up off the dog and crease in the middle, unless you are using the nylon loop on the back for the leash, which I frankly am not comfortable with. It does not look sturdy enough for a puller, and a friend of mine did have that loop come unstitched on her dog's Webmaster (which Ruffwear was great about and immediately replaced under their warranty). Mostly I used them as mobility aids for old or injured dogs. I have not used the linked to harness, but I am not a fan of that style harness. It seems to restrict forward motion in the front legs, and on that specific harness also firmly covers the shoulder blades. That particular one has more chest padding than I would like, too. Yes, many people do stick to slip leads for agility. There's no problem doing so, as long as your dog isn't going to choke himself on the way up to the ring.
  • Meredith MapesMeredith Mapes PalmerPosts: 1,351Member
    edited 16 April, 2014
    The harness I use for racing/skijoring/hiking is a buggy style harness http://bettercompanion.com/Store/products/buggyharness.html They can be purchased at http://bettercompanion.com/Store/skijor_mushing.htm The buggy style was originally designed for skijoring I believe, so it's meant to pull more off the top of their body than a traditional x-back harness. If you're worried about your dog backing out, I've added a 8-12 inch line that attaches to the ring on the harness and I clip it to my dogs collar when they're running so if they do back out they're still attached to the harness/line. I have heard from people that they think this style harness limits their dogs strength/pulling ability but I've never seen it in my dogs. If anything, they pull better with this than a more traditional harness. Feel free to message me with any questions!
  • Desiree RamirezDesiree Ramirez Posts: 42Member
    edited 22 April, 2014
    Update: So I after reading responses and reviews, and agonizing over my choices I had settled on getting the hurtta harness due to price and I like the neon color, but wanted to wait till after my birthday. Well, it looks like my family pays attention to my dog dilemmas - one of my birthday gifts was the ruffwear harness. The family told me if I didn't like it they'd exchange it, so I decided to give it a shot since it was an incredibly nice and thoughtful gift. So far I have to say I like it. Beo loves it and doesn't do his funny "ugh there's something on me walk" whenever I usually put a harness on. It allows him to comfortably take the lead in hikes, but he can't slip out of it if he falls behind or bucks like a bronco to get to a rabbit. I use the metal leash ring on it. but just in case that breaks I have the leash connected to a slip collar that is loose enough to hang around his shoulders and not give any corrections. Ember, I haven't noticed most of the problems you noticed with it. Although I agree that little nylon loop on the end throws me for a loop (pun intended). I'm still not sure what it's really for. The nice trade of the harness is that so far in our hikes he actually stopped pulling as hard and now is content to just trot happily right in front of me, which has been great on my arms. I still have time left to return it, if I start noticing anything I will, but so far Beo and I are loving my birthday gift and it's working well for our hikes. Thank you everyone for the advice! I learned a lot about harnesses and if this doesn't work out I have a list of others to try! :)
  • Dianne CooperDianne Cooper GrotonPosts: 1,193Member
    edited 18 May, 2014
  • edited 8 January, 2015
    You might also just get a light collar without tags for use just when in class. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- My's name Phuc. I love ve may bay & ve may bay gia re
  • Aleasha CasarettoAleasha Casaretto ColleyvillePosts: 512Member
    edited 1 November, 2014
    I walk Jasper on a PetSafe Easy Walk Black & Silver Dog Harness. For Max, I use the Four Paws Pink Comfort Control Dog Harness. Sweetie is walked on the PetSafe Easy Walk Raspberry & Gray Dog Harness. I would NEVER recommend walking any dog off leash, EVER! All three of the harnesses I use on my dogs are very strong and can withstand pulling, but actually stop it. I would never recommend using a slip collar on any dog. I would go with either the PetSafe of the Four Paws harness for your dog. Jasper hunts Chukar in his harness! Max hunts pheasant in his.
  • Desiree RamirezDesiree Ramirez Posts: 42Member
    edited 8 November, 2014
    Jasper, you really didn't pay attention to the question and the details I gave. The Easywalk harness has already been ruled out for previously stated reasons and it restricts his shoulder movement that even correctly fitted his gait was significantly affected (our behaviorist, trainer, and vet are seeing more and more problems with gait being affected and dogs developing shoulder problems). So it's a big fat no-no for him. We did end up using a flat collar in agility and using a martingale from everywhere else (both are lupine collars). Update for the harness (long I'm sorry): The Ruffwear harness has worked amazing! He gets so excited when I pull it out because he knows it means adventure. It allows him to pull comfortably, but not to the point it is too much for me to handle. It also helps we've been working on trail commands such as "in front," "on-by," "return," and "halt." Since I'm horribly paranoid I hook his line not only to the harness but also a 4in. safety line that hooks to his collar too, but then again I'm paranoid. After extensive use in the last 7 months it still looks brand-new. I haven't seen any of the problems Ember mentioned either, thankfully - although I am still keeping my eyes out for them. The handle deserves its own paragraph. That handle is amazing and has been a god-sent thing. One time on the trail he saw a chipmunk and went nuts. I picked him completely up off the ground and walked way until he lost interest. This is only one example, but I've also added it into his trail training so that he will come to me when I call "return," turn and stand with his back to me to let me get a good grip on the handle. All in all, it has served it's purposed as our "adventure" harness, and I recommend it! =;
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