Dog Equipment

Poorly Fitted Harnesses

Harnesses are like a pair of shoes, a badly fitted one can effect movement, rub and generally be uncomfortable. This can impact how dogs walk, their behaviour in general on the lead and for puppies how they grow. It can encourage pulling to alleviate pressure or the position of the D ring can cause them to pull forward to keep balance. Many pet shops sell poorly designed harnesses.

Dachund with poorly fitted red harness
This harness is not tight enough and is slipping and is rubbing as the dog walks.

There are lots of harnesses that state they are non pull this is usually because it is hindering the stride in the front legs or tightening around the armpits.

Spaniel with poorly fitted harness
Hindering stride as rubbing on shoulder joint

You want one that sits above the shoulders so they can take a full stride, is clear of the armpit area and sits before the mid section of the spine where the bones point towards each other. The ideal harness has a Y front, is fixed and a good size back section specifically for the dogs shape.

Rubbing under arm pit and causing this dog to limp, loose and hindering shoulder joint.

I generally (although this is dog dependant) do not recommend walking on collars as it can cause a lot of discomfort around the neck and throat not to mention cutting off oxygen in the way we hold it or if they pull. Short nose breeds should always be walked on a harness. A long line should always be attached to a harness too, NEVER a collar it can cause whiplash and worse.

Top 3 Harnesses I recommend

Perfect Fit

The Perfect Fit Harness is one on my recommended list, these come in a huge array of sizes and three pieces for the bigger breeds so if one part doesn’t fit right you can send one piece back and it works the same way as they grow, as you can buy the next size up for the piece they have grown out of it replace sections if ever damaged. This harness is fleece lined with neck clips for the dogs who also are not comfortable with putting their head through the harness.

Tellington TTouch

The Tellington TTouch harness was designed and developed in the UK by Sarah Fisher to help dogs walk freely in balance on a loose lead, and to minimise pressure on important anatomical structures in dogs’ necks. The TTouch harness is manufactured in the UK from colour fast webbing and high quality D and O rings. It has contoured plastic clips on both sides of the neck piece and back piece. This enables the handler to fit the harness without triggering concern by putting the harness over the dog’s head or by lifting the dog’s front leg. It is easily removed by releasing the clips without the need to pull the harness over the head which can cause anxiety for some dog.

Blue 9 Balance Harness

The Blue K9 Balance Harness designed by Lori Stevens, Certified Dog Trainer and made in the USA, the unique Balance Harness™ has 6 adjustment points offering a customised fit for comfort, complete freedom of movement, and flexible lead attachment options. Its unique design offers you the flexibility of multiple adjustment points to ensure that your dog has a properly fitting harness to ensure comfort, proper movement, and safety.

A lot of shop bought harnesses have just one point of contact, all of the above harnesses have a ring at the front and a ring at the back (T Touch has a choice of two) for attaching the lead, making it both versatile and practical. By clipping a leash to the front of the harness instead of a collar, tension is reduced on the dog’s neck and back, helping to influence the dog’s balance and centre of gravity (thus improving gait and posture). Control is maintained simply by giving a gentle ask and release signal to the lead clipped to the front of the harness.

What is important is introducing the harness positively, we can often get away with putting things on puppies and some dogs because we can lift them up to do it, often we do not realise they are not comfortable with this. Dogs will give subtle signs that are often missed like lip licking, yawning, panting, cowering or them nipping us as an indication for us to stop. Over time when the harness comes out they can run a mile or sometimes even become aggressive.

Pair the whole process with lot of treats until they are comfortable; for sniffing the harness, putting nose towards harness, harness touching them, nose through hole, head going through, then dropping some on to a towel or snuffle mat to get the strap around their waist, then as soon as it’s on play with them and have fun. Listen when they are saying stop and go slower if they are.

Do not tie it instantly with going out on a walk particularly for any puppies/dogs that have never been on a walk or dogs that are a frightened outside as we can then accidentally teach them harness equals something scary. It’s important to take your time with the process, this will pay off in the end and ensure your dog is not anxious before the walk even gets started.

If your dog pulls remember to work on your loose lead walking, you must also rule out any anxiety on walks as this triggers pulling to get past things they are not comfortable with or physical discomfort as some dogs pull as a result of reduced mobility through the hind quarters.

Dog Behaviour, Dog Training

10 Reasons why dogs pull

Ever wonder why some people just struggle to stop there dog pulling, even though they have been to many training classes. Lack of time of course is one reason, if a dog has not been taught from a puppy to walk on a loose lead, it take a lot more time, effort and dedication to correct this behaviour and lots and lots of patience!

However there are a number of reasons why dogs pull on the lead:

We pull first

Pulling against a dog that is pulling away from you is counter productive, if you pull them back they will pull forward it is as simple as that. This is why techniques like jerking on the lead or simply pulling them back, makes them pull away from you and sometimes even pull more.

We take control

If we dictate their every move on the lead, insisting on being at heel, correcting the position manually or constantly stopping them sniffing, they again will fight against you to get to the sniff that they want and in fact need, dogs get a lot of information from sniffing and stopping them can cause frustration and even anxiety. There needs to be a compromise between us and our dogs without them having to drag us.

Wants to get home

If your dogs is pulling on the way home, it is could be that either your walk is too long or see point 8 your dog is not enjoying the walk.

To get to something

Is your dog one that walks nicely until they see a cat, squirrel, person or another dog. 9/10 times this is because of how we handle the lead, over time you can trigger the behaviour because by pulling them back, you make the target much more interesting then it really is. Like toddlers you take something away from them they want it even more. We pull the dog away sometimes before they have even seen the stimuli.

Practiced behaviour

If dogs pull and we follow they learn to get where they want to go, this is standard advice because yes of course the behaviour get rehearsed, however I always look at what they are pulling for. Taking your dog out when you are rushed, means you are more likely to encourage pulling as the dogs feel pressured into just walking and can potentially put them in a sense of fight or flight. Pulling to the park gets them to the park is another saying. Often this is also because the park has become more rewarding than the journey to the park or that it’s more relaxing for them there away from busy loud traffic for example.

Too short a lead

If you walk your dog on a short lead, a lead you wrap round your hand or even standard length leads, do not allow the dog enough freedom to explore as much as they need to, so some dogs learn to pull quickly and shoot across you just to get that sniff they are longing for.

Different Pace

Your dog just the same as other people, walks at a different pace than you. Your dog has four legs you have two, your dog has to learn to match your pace and that’s difficult, this is why during lead walking training, they often drift forward to their natural pace. You try keeping up with someone that walks faster or even slower than you, you will not sustain that pace for long!

Wrong equipment

Ill fitted or poorly designed dog walking equipment like harnesses, can cause discomfort due to rubbing or preventing relaxed strides, it is like a pair of uncomfortable shoes this can trigger dogs to pull to relieve the pain. Getting the right harnesses is key see my blog poorly fitted harness blog 

and another two often overlooked reasons…


Commonly these dogs pull on the way home, pull past busy places, pull anxiously when other dogs/people/or traffic is approaching. Dogs that are scared of noises are often ones that pull, like they want to get the walk over as soon as possible. Fear on walks is something that should be addressed professionally, fear and stress can have long term health implications and effect behaviour, seek help from a professional behaviour advisor.


Dogs that have an injury, pain or discomfort can often find trotting or walking fast relieves the pressure. Dogs do not show injury or pain easy, pain has to be at about a 6 to see something like limping and about 10 for them to Yelp. Often the first sign of pain is behaviour change.

You see, pulling on the lead is not just about training, the above points are just some of the many factors that you need to consider when working on lead walking.

This is why lead walking techniques like, jerking, luring them back into position and changing direction, does not work for a lot of dogs. Not all dogs and I would actually go as far as to say most dogs are not happy walking to heel either and you know what it’s not necessary for a dog to walk to heel, or and asking them to be on the same side all the time can cause imbalances in the body as they are always look at you one side and not the other causing tension in the neck back and more and guess what they can be in front of you as well, it does not mean the dog is being dominant. Your walk should be a compromise between you and your dog, learn how to help him cope when anxious and work on a good loose lead walking technique that allows your dog to sniff and explore what they want but with out them pulling/dragging you down the street to do it.