How a Dog Harness Should Fit: The Ultimate Guide

Using a harness helps keep your dog safe and comfortable during their exercise - whether walking sedately or pulling your bike. However, to keep your furry friend comfortable, you must ensure their harness fits correctly.

If your dog's harness is too loose, your dog could slip free. If it's too tight, it might cause chafing or injury to the trachea. Like Goldilocks, your pup needs a dog harness that fits just right.

Keep reading to learn about the types of harnesses for your dog's activities and how to ensure the harness is the best fit. This will keep your dog happy and comfortable during outdoor excursions!

Dog Harnesses: Types And Benefits

A dog harness is helpful for a wide range of purposes, including:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Dog sports

Equipping your dog with a comfortable harness will allow you to enjoy more activities with your dog without causing discomfort.

A dog's harness fits around its chest, allowing you to clip them to a lead or rope for dog sports, walking, and other activities. Here are some of the main types of dog harnesses to consider when making your purchase.

Back Clip Harnesses

The back clip harness is the most basic and common style of dog harness. The harness fastens at the back and has a sewn-in D ring, where you can attach your leash or bungee rope. Since the leash attaches at the back, it is less likely to become trapped or tangled between your dog's legs. You'll find the back clip harness at most stores selling dog walking equipment.

Front Clip Harness

Front clip harnesses, or the no pull harness, allow you to fasten the lead at the front of your dog’s chest with a D-ring clip. The benefit of this style is that if your dog starts pulling, the dog harness will not allow him to move forward but forces them back towards you. This is very frustrating for the dog, and will eventually encourage them to walk next to you without pulling. However, one of the drawbacks of a no-pull harness is that it can become tangled between your dog's legs if you do not control the leash enough or if your leash is too long.

Dual Clip Harness 

The dual clip harness is the most versatile harness option for dogs. It allows you to attach a leash to the front or back of your dog's body. So, if your dog only engages in pulling behavior at certain places or times, you can switch to the front clip to discourage pulling behavior and encourage good leash etiquette.

How To Choose The Best Harness For Your Dog?

Dog owners might think that choosing the best option for your dog is confusing - but it doesn’t have to be!  Neewa provides only the highest-quality harnesses for your canine companion - perfect for dog sports like canicross and skijoring. Here is a list of considerations to decide which harness type is right for your dog. 

Size And Temperament Of Dog

If you have a large, strong dog that likes to pull, you will find it very difficult to control them with a flimsy or delicate harness. The dual clip harness may be the best choice if you’re a petite person with a large dog. Small dogs are normally very comfortable with a common back-clip harness unless they like to pull. Evaluating your dog's size helps you to determine whether you'll need a reinforced harness, a harness available in larger sizes, or a harness available in sizes for miniature breeds.

Harnesses are suitable and recommended for every breed - unlike collars, which can lead to breathing problems for certain dog breeds. All you need to know is whether your dog pulls on the leash and how large or small your dog is.

Adjustment Points And Comfort

The best way to ensure your dog has a well-fitting harness is to invest in a harness with plenty of adjustment points. You can easily adjust the harness to suit your dog's body if the harness is tight in some areas or loose in others.

You will most likely need a harness with plenty of adjustment points for dogs with unusual body shapes, like greyhounds, whippets, or bulldogs.

You can opt for cushioning or padding if you want to ensure your dog is comfortable in their harness. The cushioning and padding go a long way toward preventing chafing and rubbing.

Ease Of Use

You'll be walking your pup regularly if you're a responsible dog owner, so, consider which style of harness will be easiest to get onto your pup every morning when it's time for walkies. There’s nothing more annoying for you and your dog than spending 10 minutes putting on their harness (especially before the caffeine has kicked in!).

Particular Purposes Such As Sporting Activities

If you plan to introduce your dog to a sporting activity like skijoring, bikejoring, or canicross, you'll need a harness that is specially designed for pulling exercises. An H-back or X-back harness is the best fit for pulling activities, as they distribute pressure evenly across your dog's body.

Proper Fit Always Matters: How To Measure Your Dog For A Harness

When buying dog harnesses, it's essential to know your dog's sizing. You could easily purchase an ill-fitting harness if you're shopping online without a good idea of your dog's size. 


You can quickly learn your dog's weight by placing them on the family scales at home. However, for larger dog breeds, it might be easier to take your dog to the vet to have them weighed on the vet's larger scales.

If your dog has recently paid a visit to the vet, you can simply call your vet and ask them how much your dog weighed during their health examination.


To measure your dog's chest, you will need a measuring tape. If your measuring tape isn’t flexible enough to go around your dog, use a string and then measure the string. To measure correctly, you must measure your dog just behind the shoulder or armpit, as this is the thickest part of the chest. While measuring, ensure that the tape measure isn't pressing too tightly against your dog's body.


By measuring your dog's neck, you can ensure that the harness will fit over your dog's head, which is especially useful if the harness needs to slip over their head while you put it on. You should measure your dog's neck a few inches down from the crown of its head for the most accurate measurement.

To get a good dog harness fit, you'll need to ensure the measuring tape isn't pressing into the skin - instead, sitting comfortably around the dog's neck. Again, a string works perfectly for this!

How Your Dog Harness Should Fit: Learn The Signs

There are definite clues that indicate your dog's harness doesn't fit them properly. Here are the signs to consider when gauging whether the harness is a good fit.

Signs Your Dog's Harness Isn't Fitting Right

Here are some signs your dog's harness doesn't fit right.

Your Dog Is Walking Awkwardly

A proper harness fit will allow your dog to move freely. If the harness restricts your dog's movement, this indicates that the harness isn't a good fit.

Your Dog Refuses To Walk

If your dog doesn't usually refuse to walk (as some lazier breeds are known to do), then refusing to walk is a vital sign that the harness is causing them discomfort. If your harness has multiple adjustment points, it will be much easier to customize your dog’s harness to fit your dog

You See Chafing Marks Of Hair Loss Where The Harness Fits

Most harnesses are made using soft materials that prevent chafing - but only if the harness is fit snugly. Rubbing marks where your dog's harness fits indicate that you have the wrong size. If the harness is adjustable, you can alter the harness size to prevent further chafing. Check around your dog's rib cage, neck, front legs, and stomach to look for signs of chafing. Harness irritation could mean you'll need to give your dog's skin time to heal before gearing them up with a new or loosened harness.

A step-in harness is also good if your dog wears a collar. Trying to fit the harness over your dog's collar could cause additional pressure and discomfort for your pup.

The Chest Strap Loosens While Your Dog Is Walking

If you find that your dog's harness is loose around the chest after your walks, this may indicate that the harness isn't a good fit. The harness will become loose to accommodate tightness in other areas. If this is the case, it might be time to get an ideal harness for your dog's size.

The Back Piece Rotates To One Side

The proper harness for your dog's body won't move. Have your dog wear the harness and walk on the lead while adjusting the straps. If it moves, tighten the belts. This ensures dog pulling will not cause your pet to slip free and escape.

Dog Escapes From The Harness

Escaping from the harness is a very common issue dog owners can experience. Not only a correct harness fit can prevent this issue, but also choosing a comfortable harness with padded areas can help your dog enjoy wearing it for longer periods of time.

If your dog seems to still seem to feel uncomfortable while wearing a harness, we recommend putting on the harness only when a fun activity is happening, and removing it after the activity is done.

Signs Your Dog's Harness Is a Perfect Fit

Here are some of the best signs that the dog harness fit is correct.

Your Dog's Harness Is Snug

Your dog's harness should be snug around its shoulder blades, neck, and chest. An excellent way to determine whether your dog's harness is snugly is to see if the harness moves from side to side while the dog is walking. If the harness is loose-fitting, it can cause chafing issues.

You Can Slide Two Fingers Between Your Dog And The Harness

Using the two fingers rule, you can gauge whether the harness is too tight. If you can slide two fingers comfortably between your dog's girth and the harness, it's a good fit. You shouldn't be able to fit more or less than two fingers in the gap.


A harness is the best tool you can use to explore the great outdoors with your dog while ensuring its comfort and safety. Using the steps in this guide, ensure your dog is happy, snug, and ready to take on the day in its well-fitting harness.

At Neewa Dogs, we care about dogs' happiness, wellness, and comfort. We create high-quality dog wear for walking and dog sports to help dogs enjoy the best quality of life. Check out our collection of dog harnesses today for exciting adventures with your furry companion.