Harnesses basics: Long or Short?

At K9 Trail Time we believe that every dog is an individual and that each dog will need a harness based on your specific requirements, which is one of the reasons we stock so many! We also encourage our customers to become their own expert to have the confidence to select a harness to suit their own dog.

BSA Petra & I Canicross & Bikejore Fay

You need to consider a few things when deciding which type of harness to purchase and these are outlined below:

What activities will your dog be doing in the harness? As a rule of thumb we say:

Walking only / Agility / Flyball: Short type or shoulder harness (long harnesses are designed to be pulled into at all times and don’t tend to be suitable for free running dogs)

Walking & Canicross (or another dog sport): Short type or shoulder harness in most cases, unless your dog will be pulling consistently into a harness even when walking

Canicross / Bikejor / Dog Scootering: Either short or long type depending on how your dog runs (covered below)

So, now you’ve got an idea what might suit, the next question is:

How does my dog run naturally when free running? The idea behind looking at this is so your harness allows your dog to run with unrestricted movement.

If your dog ‘trots’: A short type or shoulder harness may well be suitable, also x-backs and traditional style harnesses with material over the dogs back too

If your dog ‘bounds’: Short types may suit but you should look at the longer harnesses which offer freedom of movement over the spine (Non-stop Freemotion and Zero DC Long are a couple of examples, the Howling Dog Alaska Second & Tough Skin harnesses also offer a great in between lengths option)

The harness you choose should provide total freedom of movement - Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

The harness you choose should provide total freedom of movement – Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

 

Next we look at:

Will my dog pull consistently out in front?

This is more straightforward, if the answer is yes, we would always advise to go for a longer style harness as this will better suit ‘pullers’

If the answer is no, then we recommend choosing a shorter style harness because the long style harnesses have been designed to work when being pulled into

Shorter harness will suit dogs that might pull but might also drop back sometimes - Photo courtesy of Houndscape

Shorter harness will suit dogs that might pull but might also drop back sometimes – Photo courtesy of Houndscape

Other things to consider:

Does my dog have a previous injury which may influence where the harness sits on the dog? Either short or long style may be better depending on the location of the injury

Does my dog have any issues with anything near its tail? Choose a shorter harness so you don’t upset your dog with having an attachment point near the tail

These are not hard and fast rules because, as mentioned before, every dog is unique, however we find that by using the above as a guide, people can choose a harness which their dog can run in comfortably.

If you have any questions with regard to a harness for your dog please do contact us info@k9trailtime.com and we will be happy to help you choose the perfect harness for your pooch!

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