Equipment, Reactive Dog

Get yourself and your Dog a Front Clip Harness!

Go! Do it!

Whether you’ve got yourself a naughty doggie that barks and pulls, a calm doggo who is eager to chase that squirrel, or a big pooch that can throw his weight around, leash pulling might be an issue. So stop struggling so much!

First, loose leash walking doesn’t happen overnight and if you live in an apartment or a house without a fenced in yard, you’ve got to take your furry friend outside… unless you’ve somehow trained them to pee in your toilet (props to you, does he flush?).  So we’ve got to put our dogs on a leash and they might pull, lunge, try to escape, or maybe thry’re practicing for the Iditarod. Just a collar is not going to cut it; they will pull your arm out of its socket. And a prong collar, choke collar, etc. will only harm your relationship with your dog and potentially injure them (more on this later).

Here’s where harnesses come in. There are so many on the market and the majority are back clip. These harnesses have their uses, but you may actually notice your dog can pull you harder. This is because a back clip harness is giving the dog the surface area of their chest to pull you. Dog sled harness clip in the back, a working dog hooked up to a cart is hooked in the back, so they are meant for pulling!

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Great example of pulling. Lawrence has a Christmas tree attached to his back clip harness so he can pull it. The leash is attached to the front.

Front clip harnesses are a fantastic, humane, and effective tool for loose leash walking. By putting the clip in the front you are redirecting the front of the dog. When Spot sees a squirrel and tries to pull, his chest is connected to the leash and will have to follow that point of contact.  This takes the pressure of their necks too!  I’ve also seen some dogs visibly relax with a harness on. Some harnesses even allow you to clip the front hook to the collar for extra safety or to the back for different training purposes.

And speaking of training, front clip harnesses are not cure-alls!  You still have to train loose leash walking, but it’s a great starting point.  This way you can get your dog to the vet or out to pee on the neighbors yard without injuring anyone.

Now you might say, what about head halters? Well these are a little trickier to train for comfort (putting a strap around the nose may not be super comfy for anyone!) and there is a safety issue if it’s the only tool you use.  The thin straps may cut into a dog’s muzzle or jerk their heads to much. Try using them connected to a harness in a low distraction environment first.

Mo showing off his Blue-9 Balance Harness. Lawrence is above with his Freedom Harness

I currently use the Freedom Harness for my 80 lbs St. Bernard mix, Lawrence.  It has velvet straps near the armpits, two points of leash contact, quality construction, and a decent price.  I use the Balance Harness for my 70 lb mutt, Mo.  This one has an option to unclip the over-the-head component, which is great for dogs who don’t tolerate things being put on well. It has a lot of points of adjustment, two points of leash contact, and again a good quality product.  Another great option is the Ruffwear Harness and these are made for hard wear, they are nice and cushy, have multiple points of adjustment, two points of contact for a leash. Just a caution on these, the front clip is made of fabric, so it could wear faster.

Now you can work on training your dog to loose leash walk without the rush!  Enjoy your walks!

8 thoughts on “Get yourself and your Dog a Front Clip Harness!”

  1. That looks like a really great harness, my biggest fear is with my eyes and balance I might trip over it but will look more into it to see. I believe a good harness always makes everyone’s life easy and what I have been using till now I have no complaints about

    1. There are two clip leashes out there the clip to the front and back of the harness, that might help keep the leash from hanging too low. But if you’ve got something that’s working for you, that’s great!

  2. I never really understood the reason why front clips harnesses are supposed to reduce pulling. Thanks for the explanation. I might have to get one for my Puggle mix, he’s small, but he is really strong (at least compared to me.)

  3. I may need one of these for Lizzie. She’s the funniest little energy ball. If I walk her alone, she has that initial impulse to pull excitedly, which I can redirect and/or wait out. No issues. She’ll calm down and then we have a nice walk. Half the time when I walk her and Bernie together, she’s pulling for a much longer time. Even if I put one dog on each side of me, she’s raring to run and go faster. The front clip harness may be the solution for when I walk both dogs. Thank you for such a clear explanation of the various options.

  4. Back when Kol was a wild and unmanageable puppy we used to swear by a front clip harness. This was back in the day before there were a ton of options and I had to have it added myself, but it was perfect and I couldn’t have imagined training him any other way!

  5. Thanks for sharing such an informative article about the front clip harness. Finding the best solution for walking your dog makes the time spent together that much more enjoyable! Great article!

  6. What an awesome fix to such a common behavioral problem! We have a 4-1/2 pound Yorkie whom we have spoiled to pieces. He will sit and stay if a treat is involved, but that’s about the only training he chooses to acknowledge. He is a reactionary dog and has a fit when he sees other dogs on a walk. I will definitely try this out.

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