How to Put on a Dog Harness: A Step-By-Step Guide

Did you know that some dogs who wear a traditional collar and leash combination could be at risk for neck injuries? Jerking back the leash can cause your dog whiplash and bruising injuries, causing a great deal of discomfort and pain. 

In more extreme situations, jerking the leash can crush the windpipe and cause fractures to the vertebrae. There are some breeds of dogs that are predisposed to develop trachea collapse, including Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Shih Tzu's, Lhasa Apsos, Toy Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers  In most cases, the owner does not intend to cause injury or pet health concerns to their beloved pet, but it can be avoided. 

Instead of using a collar and leash, an excellent alternative is to purchase a harness for your beautiful pup! Using a well-fitted harness on your dog spreads the pressure across the whole of the dog’s body instead of focusing on the neck area. A harness should fit snugly so that your dog is comfortable yet secure. 

Using a harness can also be a better choice for the owner as you maintain a greater degree of control of your dog, as well as reduce the chance that the leash gets caught under the front legs of your dog. Keep in mind, that if you’re trying a harness on your dog for the first time, it may take some time for your pup to get used to the idea. Some dogs take to it right away, but for others, It may require some patience and lots of yummy treats. There are many types of standard dog harness available.

Neewa can offer the perfect harness for every size of the dog and for every type of dog sporting activity. This guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions about how to put on a dog harness.

Types of Dog Harnesses 

There are many different types of dog harnesses to consider for your canine best friend. 

All harnesses are secured across the main body of the dog but maybe fitted in different ways. The most popular harnesses have a back leash clip with a D-ring that the leash attaches to, and the dog can step into with their front legs. 

How do you fit a dog harness? Does your harness fit over your dog’s head, or underneath his front legs?

Knowing how to fit your dog’s harness in advance can save you a great deal of hassle. It will also reduce the unnecessary stress felt by your dog.

Here are the main types of dog harnesses you could consider when wondering how to put on a dog harness.

  • Fashion Dog Harness. Standard-sized dogs can enjoy a variety of fashionable dog harnesses. You can choose to style your pup in a range of unique materials and design colors. 
  • Step-in harness. A quick and easy harness to put on your dog, a step-in harness may be the perfect option. A great choice if you have mobility issues or if your dog is very sensitive to things being placed over its head. The D-ring is on the back of the harness, reducing entanglements and making it easy to run with your dog.
  • No-pull harness. A harness that discourages your dog from pulling on the leash because the leash attaches to the D-Ring in the front. If your dog pulls, it can’t move forward because the leash moves off to the side. An excellent choice to teach good leash manners to your furry friend! 
  • Front clip dog harness. Another name for a no-pull harness and a great choice for powerful dogs to teach them loose-leash walking.
  • Back clip dog harness. Smaller dogs love this harness, reducing the pressure on their small bodies. Most fashion harnesses are back clip harnesses.
  • Special fit dog harness. A custom design to help fit all shapes and sizes of dogs. A modular design will fit even dogs who are missing a limb or have other special needs. 
  • Overhead harness. A harness that fits over the dog’s head, lifting the paws in the loops separately. 
  • Sports harness. Using a hands-free dog leash and sports collar, you can run, hike, or bike with your pup.
Perfect Fit Harness - Neewa

Perfect Fit Harness | Neewa

How Tight Should a Dog Harness Be? 

Dog harnesses should fit securely so that your dog cannot escape. But, it should also fit comfortably so that your dog is not under any duress. 


One of the main reasons a dog might not like its harness is due to the lack of padding and the resulting discomfort. A high-quality harness is not the cheapest but will have good padding in all the right places. A good rule of thumb is to ensure you can fit two fingers underneath all straps on the harness, including under the dog’s belly. This ensures that your dog is comfortable. You would never want to wear something too tight and neither does your dog!


To make sure that your dog’s harness is safe, gently try to pull the harness over his head. Make sure you do this slowly and carefully so you do not cause any distress to your dog. If the harness can come off over his head, then it is not safe and must be adjusted. 

This must be addressed because if your dog pulls on the leash, the harness may come off. This may result in injury to your dog, or he may get lost.

How to Put On a Dog Harness? 

A dog harness can come in a variety of different styles, each with a different way to fit the harness to your dog. But, how do you put on a dog harness?

Fashion Dog Harness 

Smaller breed dogs may enjoy wearing a fashion dog harness, available in a wide range of colors and designs. Why not coordinate your dog’s harness with your stylish outfit? 

Here are the main steps to take when fitting your dog’s fashion harness:

  1. Unbuckle the straps.
  2. Place the harness over your dog’s head and under the dog's chest.
  3. Clip the buckle in place on his back.
  4. Adjust the size of the harness for maximum comfort and security.
  5. Give your dog positive reinforcement for being so well-behaved for his pet parents!

Step-In Dog Harness 

A step-in harness is a good choice for new pet owners or owners with mobility issues. You can easily place your dog on top of the harness and pull it up over his legs. 

Here are the steps you need to take to put on step-in harnesses:

  1. Unbuckle the harness.
  2. Place the harness on the ground, spreading out each harness section.
  3. Encourage your dog to sit close to the harness.
  4. Place the two of your dog's paws into the front harness loops.
  5. Pull up the harness so the buckle components meet on your dog’s shoulder blades.
  6. Adjust the straps to make sure the harness fits securely, but not too tight.
  7. Reward your dog with his favorite treat!

No-Pull Harness 

A no-pull harness is sometimes the easiest harness to fit! There is no need to lift your dog's leg, as the harness fits over his head, with two side buckles. 

Here are the quick steps you need to take to fit a no-pull harness on your dog:

  1. Unbuckle the no-pull harness
  2. Place the harness over the head.
  3. Rest the buckles on his back.
  4. Lift the other side of the buckles from under your dog's legs.
  5. Click the two buckles in place.
  6. Adjust the fit of the harness so that your dog is safe, yet comfortable.
  7. Reward your dog for being well-behaved!

Front Clip Dog Harness

Front-clip harnesses are sometimes recommended for strong dogs when teaching them not to pull. The front leash attachment allows dog owners to have more control over their dogs and discourage pulling habits.

Here are the steps you need to fit front clip harnesses onto your favorite dog:

  1. Unbuckle the front clip harness and identify the D-shaped ring.
  2. Slip the neck hole over the head, keeping the D-shaped ring at the front.
  3. Take the two loose ends of the harness and fasten them under the dog's chest. 
  4. Adjust the sizing of the harness so that your dog cannot escape the harness yet feels comfortable.
  5. Click the leash onto the D-shaped ring.
  6. Reward your pet with his favorite treat!

Back Clip Dog Harness 

A back clip harness is a good choice for small dogs. 

Here are the main steps to take when putting the back clip harness on your dog:

  1. Unclip the harness straps and lay them out on the floor.
  2. Fit the neck hole of the harness over his head.
  3. Bring both ends of the buckle to meet under the dog's chest.
  4. The D-shaped ring should be at your dog’s back, close to his shoulders.
  5. Adjust the harness to ensure it fits comfortably, but securely also.
  6. Give a treat to your furry friend!

Special Fit Dog Harness

A special fit dog harness adopts a modular design and luxurious material, creating a snug harness for your pooch. 

Here are the steps you need to consider when fitting this harness to your dog:

  1. Clip the buckle around the dog’s neck.
  2. Lift the straps from under the front legs and clip the remaining buckles in place.
  3. Adjust the sizing and the fit of the harness for comfort and security.

Overhead Harness

An over-the-head harness allows you to secure the harness over your dog’s head. 

Here are the steps to take to fit overhead harnesses on your dog:

  1. Encourage your dog to sit close to you.
  2. Slide the harness over your dog’s head, making sure you are using the correct neck hole.
  3. Lift each paw into the correct loop separately.
  4. Lift the straps behind your dog’s body.
  5. Secure the buckle.
  6. Adjust the harness to make sure it fits your dog well. It should be comfortable but secure.

Sports Harness

Don’t let your furry friend miss out on your favorite sports activity! Use the Neewa hands-free dog leash running harness attached to a Neewa trekking belt to let you and your dog work out together. 

Here are the main steps to take when using a sports harness:

  1. Unclip any buckles.
  2. Place the sports running harness over your dog’s head.
  3. Bring the clips round to meet on his back.
  4. Fasten the clips in place.
  5. Adjust the sizing of the harness for a snug, safe fit.
  6. Attach the trekking belt to your body and then fit the hands-free leash attachment between the harness and your belt.
Sport Dog Harness - How to Put on a Dog Harness

Sport Dog Harness | Neewa

How to Measure for a Harness Correctly

You will need to take three measurements from your dog so that you can choose the right harness. With each measurement, a pet parent should ensure there are two fingers of space under the tape measure.


Using a tape measure, measure the widest part of your dog's chest to measure for his chest strap. The widest part of his chest maybe across your dog's girth, under the dog's shoulders.


To find the best harness sizes for your dog, measure the upper neck where a collar would naturally rest. Then measure the lower neck where the harness is likely to sit. The reason why is that when the dog pulls the harness goes down and you want to have the neck part comfortable to avoid the choking effect.


Measure the length of the dog's body across the dog's fur. Thi measurement helps to make sure your dog wears a harness that covers his body.

You now have all of the measurements you need to find the perfect fit harness for your perfect dog!

Pros and Cons of Harnesses and Collars

So, should you use a harness or a collar on your dog? Maybe you should put on both a harness and a collar?


A harness prevents neck injuries to your dog. The force and pressure of pulling back on the leash are distributed across the dog’s shoulder blades and chest. The dog’s main body is much stronger than the neck and an even distribution of the force is better for the dog. Also, there are some breeds of dogs that are predisposed to develop trachea collapse, including Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Shih Tzu's, Lhasa Apsos, Toy Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers. These breeds should definitely use a harness rather than a collar for walking.

Another safety consideration is that if your dog escapes and its harness becomes entangled, it is less likely to choke. Becoming lightly tangled across their chest cannot cause an immediate problem.

You can gain a range of different harness styles. Neewa offers harnesses for every sized dog and every style and preference. 


Attaching a leash to a collar is not the best choice for most dogs. When you pull on the leash, you can inadvertently put too much force on their neck and trachea. Your canine best friend can suffer from whiplash, fractured vertebrae, breathing problems, and the collar and leash attachment can become entangled and cause strangulation.

There are some dogs whose heads and necks are roughly the same size, making it very easy for the collar to slip off. Typically this includes Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, and other slim-headed breeds. Obviously, a harness would be the best option for these breeds.

However, using a collar without a leash in addition to the harness can be a great idea. A collar, such as Neewa’s sport collar, looks great and can be used for identification. You can engrave your contact details onto the collar tag, and also attach rabies vaccination information,  just in case your pooch ever gets lost.


Harnesses are the safest, most comfortable, and most secure option for attaching a leash to your dog. However, a poorly fitted harness can cause just as much harm as a collar, so take the time to measure your pup to get the perfect fit. Putting a harness on your dog can be done easily using the steps we’ve described above. If your dog is resisting your efforts to put on the harness, take some time to do some positive reinforcement training to make the process easier.  

Neewa offers a vast range of dog gear so that you can purchase a dog harness for every occasion. 

You can also find a great range of collars for your dog to use alongside a dog harness. Help your dog get identified if they ever get lost away from your home.

Visit Neewa today for the best equipment in sports and utility dog gear! Find the perfect style to suit your canine best friend! You can also find us on Facebook and YouTube.