Sizing and Installing Your Dog Harness

BY MICHAEL D.

Whether walking or driving, the benefits of a dog harness greatly outweigh those of a simple leash-and-collar combo. If you’ve ever taken a particularly over-eager pup for a stroll, you’ll know that collars tend to choke and the leash often winds up tangled around legs as the animal follows its nose. Harnesses, on the other hand, distribute weight evenly across your pet’s chest, offer multiple attachment points to avoid tangling, and provide extra places to grab when you need to manually lift your older or smaller dog into the back of your vehicle, over an obstacle, or out of water should they fall in.

THE REAL DIFFERENCE

Comfort and convenience are all well and good, but you might be wondering if dog harnesses will actually keep your canine safe in the event of a crash. We read you loud and clear, and the good news is that wiser manufacturers like Kurgo do too. You’ll be pleased to know that many companies, Kurgo included, subject their wares to extensive crash-testing prior to market-approval, which gives owners like you the peace of mind you’re after. Products like the Tru-Fit Smart Dog Harness, specifically, are suitable for use and guaranteed-safe for dogs weighing up to 75 lbs. Combine it with the Kurgo Auto Zip Line to give your dog even more mobility — without compromising safety — and utilize its five adjustors to cinch everything up perfectly. Not every harness is identical to this one, of course, so the fitment options and weight capacities may vary, but the basics are likely to overlap.

CORRECTLY SIZING YOUR HARNESS

So, let’s say your mind is made up — you think your dog’s driving, roaming or boating experience would be improved by a dog harness. Now, how do you size the thing? Not unlike sizing a suit or a dress, you need to take a few measurements of your dog before clicking “Buy Now.” You’ll be measuring its chest, neck and weight. The handy chart below offers accurate or near-enough results for you to make your determination.

For the chest measurement, take a flexible cloth measuring tape and, starting from the bottom of the rib cage, go up and over the dog’s back, then back down to where you started. Dogs with a 12-20” chest will require a “small” harness, with 18-28” corresponding to a medium-sized harness. Pets with a 28-44” chest qualify for extra-large.

For the neck, wrap the tape around the thickest part of your dog’s neck and take that measurement. In case you’re not sure where that is, it’s right on top of his shoulders — not where the collar would normally fit, as that location is much narrower and won’t give you an accurate result. Small necks range between 12-20” around, while a “large” is usually somewhere between 18-30 inches.

Weight measurements aren’t necessarily the best way to determine the size of your harness, but some companies do use weight to guide the sizing process. If you can’t get your dog to sit still on the scale without holding it down, a quick, useful trick is to step on the scale first, then weigh yourself with the dog in your arms. The difference can be attributed to the pooch. Dogs of 10-25 lbs qualify for a small harness, while dogs of 50-80 lbs will require a large one. Beasts of 80-110 lbs are going to need an extra-large (we’re looking at you, shepherds and Rottweilers). But we’re guessing you already knew that.

INSTALLING YOUR PROPERLY SIZED DOG HARNESS

The harness needs to fit loosely, so that it slips smoothly onto your pooch. You can always tighten it once it’s on, but it needs to be an easy fit going in. You’ll know that it’s a poor fit if it causes chafing, if the dog can wriggle loose or if the rear portion of the harness rotates from side to side. For a fit you can count on, try to insert two fingers between your dog and the harness.

So, without further ado, here’s how to install the dog harness of your choice.

  1. Slide the harness over the head of your dog. Don’t tighten it yet.
  2. Swing the chest piece up so that it touches your dog’s chest and belly.
  3. Fasten the buckles on the chest piece to the back of the harness. These buckles can be found on either side, probably just behind the forelegs.
  4. Adjust the sides of the harness so that they fit snugly.
  5. Adjust the belly (if applicable) to do the same.
  6. Finally, adjust the neck.

The aforementioned Tru-Fit Smart Harness offers a fourth attachment point — on the stomach. From there, you’ll be good to go, and free to attach the harness to your seat belt system or leash it to an overhead tether. Follow the link below to start your shopping experience, or leave a remark or question in the comment section if you found this guide helpful.

SHOP DOG HARNESSES