Does your dog pull on his leash when you take him out for a walk? A dog that pulls on the leash can turn what was supposed to be a pleasant afternoon stroll through the park into a test of brute strength between you and your wayward pet!
Although you may finish up with a set of muscles that Arnie would be proud of, a card-carrying strong-puller can quickly become a stressful nightmare. A couple of decades ago, the “cure” for a dog that pulls would be to replace the animal’s collar with a heavy-duty choke-chain. The result of that was usually an unhappy pup that ended up choking and spluttering each time he was walked on his leash.
Fortunately, harnesses are now preferred by most owners over the traditional collar and leash. Now, the choke-chain is pretty much a thing of the past. In this article, we take a closer look at how no-pull dog harnesses can be highly effective as a cure for a pup who habitually pulls and jumps on his leash.
You’ll also get plenty of helpful information on how to fit and use a no-pull dog harness, and a buyer’s guide. You’ll also find an entire section dedicated to reviewing the best no-pull dog harnesses on the market.
At a Glance: Our Favorite No Pull Harnesses
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So, why should you consider using a no-pull dog harness, rather than a traditional collar and leash? Strong pulling dogs that wear a collar and leash can suffer severe neck injuries and associated health problems.
Unfortunately, the more you pull back against your pup, the harder he will pull against you, and the more likely it is that a serious injury will occur. A no-pull harness is specially designed to control your dog without causing him pain or injury.
This guide will walk you through all the important characteristics of a good no-pull harness before you head out and purchase one. Let’s look at important factors which include fitting, training your pup not to pull, and more.
Collar & Leash Drawbacks
A collar places great pressure on the dog’s trachea and esophagus when the animal pulls back on the leash or jumps forward. That pressure can damage their windpipe or trachea. The trachea runs down the front of the dog’s neck, carrying the air that your pup breathes into his lungs.
The trachea is prevented from collapsing by a ring of flexible cartilage that runs around the tube, holding it open. Behind the trachea is the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food and water to their stomach.
When a dog pulls hard against a collar and leash, the soft, vulnerable structures of the trachea and esophagus can be crushed. In severe cases, the trachea may collapse altogether, leading to severe breathing difficulties for the dog and a hefty vet bill for the owner!
Small breeds are especially vulnerable to tracheal collapse because of the sparse muscle in that area. Note that tracheal injuries caused by pulling can require surgical correction, and many dogs never fully recover from such traumas. For smaller dogs, you’ll want to get a harness specifically made for small dogs.
Why Dogs Pull
If you can understand the reason why your dog pulls in the first place, you may be able to work out a solution to the problem. Contrary to the popular urban myth, dogs do not pull on the leash because they’re trying to dominate you and be the “pack leader.”
There are actually several reasons why dogs pull:
- Dogs mainly pull on the leash because they are excited!
- When you clip on that leash, your dog knows it’s walk time!
- Your furry friend is in a rush to get to the park once you get close!
- Dogs generally walk faster than their owners!
- Your dog is moving toward something that catches their attention.
Outside of the reasons why dogs pull, using the wrong equipment can contribute to pulling behaviors. A no-pull harness or head-halter are generally considered to be the best pieces of equipment for preventing pulling behavior and can be extremely helpful when you’re training your dog to walk politely on a loose leash.
No Pull vs. Traditional Harnesses
A regular dog harness usually has the leash attachment fixed to the top of the harness on the dog’s back. Unfortunately, that design can encourage a dog to pull, as it triggers the dog’s opposition reflex.
Opposition reflex is the dog’s instinctive reaction to pull back against the pressure exerted by the leash against the harness. For example, if you try to pull a puppy toward you on his leash, he’ll most likely pull right back, thanks to his opposition reflex.
A no-pull harness usually has the leash attachment point fixed low down on the dog’s chest. That makes it physically harder for the dog to pull against the leash and also means that choking caused by a harness that fits partially around the dog’s neck is less likely to occur.
A basic, front-clip, no-pull dog harness works by changing the leash’s point of leverage. So, when the dog pulls against the leash, the harness simply turns the dog to the side, preventing the animal from making any kind of forward progress. That makes the effort of pulling against the leash a pointless exercise for the dog.
Different Types of No-Pull Harnesses
So, there are two basic styles of no-pull dog harness. The front clip harness and the halter style harness. Each type serves a different purpose, so let’s look at both and see which situations they are best used for.
Front-clip, no-pull harness: The first, as we’ve already mentioned, has a leash clip attachment on the front that works by turning your dog to the side when he pulls, instead of allowing him to pull you forward. Most no-pull harnesses with a front-clip design also have a clip fixed to the top of the harness on the dog’s back.
Halter-style, no-pull harness: The second commonly used type of no-pull harness is the head-halter. Head-halter harnesses are designed to fit over the dog’s nose and neck. Don’t confuse a head-halter with a muzzle; they are two totally different devices that serve different purposes. A head-halter harness is meant to prevent a headstrong dog from pulling on the leash.
Prong Collars as an Alternative
Prong or pinch collars have been around for many years, and they have often been used as a tool to prevent strong dogs from pulling, lunging, and jumping on the leash. But what are prong collars and are they cruel? A prong collar is made from links of chain fitted with inward-facing prongs. The leash attaches to the prong collar in the same way as you would fix it to a regular flat collar.
A prong collar works through positive punishment. When the dog pulls or tugs on the leash, the collar applies pressure around the animal’s neck. As soon as the dog stops pulling, the pressure is released, and the discomfort stops. So, the dog learns that pulling on the leash is uncomfortable.
However, unless the prong collar is used correctly, it is possible for the dog to be injured. This is why we don’t recommend them unless you consult with a trainer before doing so. A prong is a training tool, and if used correctly, it can be effective in training a dog not to pull. The prong should only be used under the guidance of a trainer if other positive reinforcement techniques were not successful with your dog.
Handling a Strong Puller
If your dog is a very strong puller, you’ll need to teach him to walk on a loose leash, rather than to pull. The dog must learn to stay by your side until you walk forward, rather than pulling on the leash to try to get ahead of you. Dogs are more inclined to pull on a back-clip harness, choke chain, prong collar, or flat collar.
So, you’ll need to use a front-clip harness that crosses the front of your pet’s chest to establish control. For dogs who are extremely strong pullers and have a tendency to get out of control, a head-halter should be your first training tool of choice.
Fitting Your Dog Properly
So, if you think a no-pull harness will help to cure your dog of the habit of tugging on the leash, check out the product review section of this guide [insert link here] and choose the perfect harness for your pet. Once you’ve chosen a suitable no-pull harness, you’ll need to know how to fit it.
You’ll need a fabric tape measure for this job. Alternatively, you could use a piece of string or your dog’s leash to take the measurements, and then place the string against a ruler to get the figure you need.
Here are some important points when measuring your dog for a no-pull harness:
- Harness sizing varies from brand to brand.
- Don’t just assume the size of your dog, regardless of their breed.
- Great Danes and Mastiffs are in an entirely different category.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s sizing guide for each type of harness.
- Most harnesses require you to take a measurement of your dog’s “girth.”
- The girth is the circumference around the widest part of the dog’s body.
- Strong pullers may need to be measured around your pup’s lower neck.
- Some brands of no-pull harness require you to measure your dog’s chest.
- That’s the horizontal distance across the chest from shoulder to shoulder.
- Alter the straps to your pet’s approximate size before you put the harness on your dog.
- Once it’s on, you can make the necessary adjustments to get the perfect fit.
- A no pull harness should allow for a two-finger space underneath all straps.
- Don’t have the harness fitted too loose.
- That could allow the harness to slip around, potentially causing chafing or even choking.
- If you’re using a halter-style no-pull harness, make sure it’s fitted so it will not slip.
- However, the harness should not be so tight that your poor dog can’t breathe!
In this section of our guide, to save you the hassle of a time-consuming search, we’ve taken time out on your behalf to review ten of the best no-pull dog harnesses on the market today. There are many different styles in this list, including those more suited for working dogs.
Each of these harnesses has been battle-tested and features different characteristics that allow it to be classified as “no-pull.” You should always pay attention to the individual tendencies of your dog before purchasing a harness, but any of our top picks in the list below is a great starting point for your pup.
Chai's Choice No Pull Dog Harness
- 3M reflective material.
- Padded chest and belly straps.
- Built-in rear handle.
- Front O-ring discourages pulling.
- Four adjustable straps.
- Nine different color combinations.
- Five different sizes.
The Chai’s Choice Reflective harness is our top selection for many breeds. They have a wide selection of different color combinations and sizes, depending on the size of your canine companion. This harness also comes with a wide variety of different features, making ideal to use for just about any situation.
Equipping this harness with 3M reflective material makes it perfect for walks during the evening or when there’s low visibility. Its padded chest and belly straps help keep your dog comfortable on longer walks, and also help to prevent chafing. This model has two different places to attach your leash. You can attach it up front to the O-ring, which discourages dogs from pulling. Once your pup is better behaived, there’s also a ring on the back that allows for a rear attachment.
The adjustability is where the Chai’s Choice harness shines. There are four different straps, allowing for maximum adjustability, depending on your dog’s shape. Most dog owners know that no two dogs are shaped the same, so it’s important to have a little flexibility when it comes to fitment.
We specifically love the reflective features of this harness. The fact it’s highly reflective makes it ideal for active dog owners that enjoy early morning or evening runs with their pup.
Big Dog Harness Adjustable Reflective Vest
- Four different sizes.
- Adjustable to many different doggy shapes.
- Reflective material for low light conditions.
- Sturdy rear handle for more control.
- Evenly distributed pressure.
- Breathable mesh lining.
The Kurgo dog harness is available in several sizes from extra-small to extra-large and is fully adjustable for the perfect custom fit, no matter what breed of dog you own. This no-pull dog harness rates highly on Amazon thanks to its high quality and effectiveness in controlling the strongest puller. The harness has five easily adjustable points and Weinerlock plastic quick-release buckles, making fitting and removal a breeze.
The front “D-ring” no-pull leash attachment point is complemented by an additional back leash ring for extra control. The harness comes with a seatbelt too, so you can use the product to safely travel your dog in your car. However, you should be aware that the harness itself has not been officially crash-tested.
We love that this harness has a wide choice for sizes and with five easily adjustable points. It also has quick-release buckles and two attachment leash points. The product comes with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects.
Kurgo Dog Harness
- Buckles made from reinforced steel.
- Includes carabiner and seatbelt loop.
- Modeled after rock climbing harnesses.
- Rear connection acts as a handle.
- Great for running, and hiking.
- Padded chest reduces trachea stress.
- Crash tested for dogs up to 75 lbs.
The Ruffwear no-pull harness is specially designed to cope with a dog that is a strong puller. The harness is built to be worn all day and is made from lightweight, durable fabric that will last for years, even under heavy daily use. The design is easy to put on and take off, making it ideal for use with a dog that fidgets.
Providing extra control, the harness is fitted with two leash attachment points on the back and front. The harness is thoughtfully designed with reinforced webbing across the chest. This helps stand up to the efforts of even the most determined puller. The back-sited “V” ring leash attachment is made from heavy-duty aluminum for added security.
To keep your dog comfortable, the harness has foam-padded strips fitted across the belly and chest. This provides equal load distribution when the dog is running, walking, or resting. To ensure the perfect fit for your pet, the harness has four adjustment points that give your dog a full range of motion.
Nice design touches include an easy-access ID pocket where you can safely keep your dog’s ID tags. The harness is made from bright, easily visible fabric in six exciting colorways, and there’s reflective trim fitted to make your dog highly visible during walks in poor light.
We love that this harness has a lightweight and durable fabric. It’s got an easy on, easy off design. There are double leash attachment points and it has an easy access po ID pocket. There’s also a variety of colors to choose from.
RUFFWEAR Dog Harness
- Dual leash attachment points.
- Multiple color combinations.
- Five different doggy sizes.
- Comfortable fit for longer walks.
- Reflective piping.
- Storage for Identification Tags.
- Multiple adjustment points.
The best-selling Rabbitgoo no-pull dog harness comes in five colorways, including black. The harness is designed to help control dogs that pull, without causing choking and the associated health problems of crush injuries to the dog’s neck. There are two metal leash rings for extra security and the harness chest attachment clip prevents pulling. Once your dog has been trained not to pull, you can use the back leash attachment in isolation.
Users love the fast-release buckles on the Rabbitgoo harness and its easy-on, easy-off design. Simply slide the harness over the dog’s head, buckle it up, adjust the straps for a perfect fit. Then you’re good to go! There’s a fabric grab handle fitted to the top of the harness for extra control. This helps when loading your dog into the car.
The harness is designed in a “Y” shape with four, easily-adjustable straps that pass right around the dog’s body. The two neck straps and two chest straps allow for a perfect fit with room for growth, and you don’t need to worry about your dog slipping out of the harness or choking.
The harness’ lightweight, durable nylon Oxford material is easy to clean enabling you to keep your dog looking smart, even after the muddiest walks. Extra padding with soft cushioning keeps your dog comfy, and the breathable mesh helps to keep your pet cool on the warmest of days.
We love that this harness has front and back leash attachments, many color assortments and is easily adjustable. The Design also allows room for growth. For safe walks in poor light conditions, the harness is fitted with super-bright reflective strips to keep you and your dog highly visible.
Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
- Budget-friendly pick.
- Two leash attachment points.
- Four different sizes.
- Nine different colors.
- Designed to prevent choking.
- Comfortable and breathable padding.
- Easy-to-use overhead design.
This no-pull dog harness is designed specifically with strong-pulling, big dogs in mind. So, if you have a Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, or similar big breed, the Big Dog no-pull harness is a great accessory for your pup.
The Big Dog harness is designed to evenly distribute pulling pressure across the dog’s body and away from the vulnerable neck area. The harness is easy to put on and take off, and it fastens with quick-snap buckles. The fully adjustable straps ensure a perfect custom fit for your pet. There’s a strong “D-ring” leash attachment point and a sturdy grab handle for extra control and support.
The harness has a reflective strap to keep you and your dog visible at night, and the breathable mesh lining and soft sponge padding ensures that your dog will always be cool and comfortable, whatever the weather.
We love that this harness was specifically created for larger breeds and has an easy on & easy off design. It has fully adjustable straps for a custom fit and has an extra handle for extra control. It also has a reflective strip for improved nighttime safety.
PoyPet No Pull Dog Harness
- No pull and choke free design.
- Multiple color combinations.
- Five different sizes.
- Elastic construction for comfort.
- Three snap buckles for a perfect fit.
- Dual leash attachment.
- 3M reflective padding.
The PoyPet No-Pull dog harness comes in a wide range of bright colors, as well as subtle tones of gray and black. This popular and highly-rated harness has undergone a recent upgrade and is now super-easy to use. The simple system of Quick-snap buckles and easy-adjust straps make for a quick and easy on and off design that’s ideal for busy dog owners and feisty pups.
The harness has a sturdy metal front leash attachment point with reinforced webbing to help combat pulling. There’s also a back clip for additional control and for more relaxed walks. Pulling pressure is evenly distributed across the dog’s body, preventing choking.
The harness has elasticated belly straps for greater comfort, and there’s a padded handle, giving you extra control. The handle can also act as a seatbelt loop. The large area of reflective stitching gives good visibility at night, helping to keep you and your pup safe on walks.
We love that The manufacturer offers a 100% guarantee on this product. It also has a wide range of colors to choose from, and excellent material construction. The padded handle is helpful for extra control. The handle can be used as a seatbelt loop as well.
ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness
- Tactical harness design.
- Six different colors.
- Four different doggy sizes.
- Velcro molle pouch attachments.
- No pull design.
- Rear handle for added control.
- Two different leash attachment areas.
The Icefang harness is designed and built to be used on working dogs who are inclined to pull. The harness has a front clip leash attachment to discourage pulling. The buckles have been 1,000lb load-tested on the shoulder point. This takes the most pressure when the dog pulls or lunges on the leash.
The innovative design makes the harness escape-proof. Also, the box-stitching used in the harness’ construction ensures that the sturdy fabric won’t rip, even under extreme strain. There’s a back clip for relaxed walking, and a grab handle is included to give you extra control. This also allows you to give your dog a lift in and out of your vehicle if necessary.
We love that this harness has Velcro patches on the back, sides, and chest. This allows you to attach appropriate badges or insignia as required if your canine companion is a working dog. It has load-tested handles and is great for both service and working dogs. Both front and back leash attachment points are made from high-quality fabrics.
Bolux No Pull Dog Harness
- Budget-friendly pick.
- Multiple color variations.
- Six different sizing options.
- Especially good for large dog breeds.
- Sturdy rear handle.
- No-choke design.
- Reflective straps for low light conditions.
The Bolux dog harness is specifically designed to give you more control over dogs that pull. With six different size options, the Bolux harness will fit almost any breed, from American Pitbulls all the way down to Yorkies or Miniature Schnauzers.
Only the strongest materials are used to make the harness, and the design is intended to allow owners to cope with the most determined pullers. Unique, thick, and heavy-duty connected straps on the back of the harness provide additional strength and anti-tear capability.
The single, durable metal “D-ring” on the front of the harness provides a secure attachment point. Pulling pressure is evenly distributed across the dog’s body so that pressure is not placed on the neck, avoiding injury and discomfort.
The harness is extremely easy to adjust and wear, and the Quick-snap buckle ensures hassle-free easy-on and easy-off capability. The straps are quick and simple to adjust too, ensuring a perfect custom fit for your pet every time.
We love that this harness is equipped for even the most aggressive pullers. There’s also a sturdy grab handle on the back of the harness to give you extra control. This harness is designed for all types of strong pulling dogs.
BARKBAY No Pull Dog Harness
- Great for everyday use.
- Four different sizes.
- Multiple color variations.
- Sturdy rear handle for additional control.
- Metal leash attachments.
- Breathable soft sponge padding.
The Barkbay dog harness is a front-clip, heavy-duty harness that’s designed to give you more control over a large, powerful dog. The harness comes in black, pink/black, blue/black, and red/black. All colorways have reflective strips to make you and your dog more visible at night.
The Barkbay harness is fitted with a handy grab handle on the back to allow for easy lifting in and out of your car and to give you extra control if your dog becomes unruly during a walk.
We love that this harness has a front clip design for added control. It has a smart colorway choice and reflective strips for better nighttime visibility. It’s specifically designed with large strong pullers in mind.
Eagloo Adjustable Harness
- Budget-friendly model.
- Four different sizes.
- Multiple color options.
- Two metal leash attachments.
- Evenly distributes pressure.
- Easy-on and off design.
- Reflective material for low visibility conditions.
The Eagloo no-pull dog harness is a budget friendly model with multiple color variations. The harness is designed to fit most dog breeds, and the materials used in its creation are all durable and heavy-duty.
The harness is completely adjustable for a perfect fit. The design ensures that any pulling pressure exerted by the dog is distributed evenly across the animal’s body, avoiding the vulnerable structures of the neck area.
Attachment points are fitted to the front and back of the harness, and the two “D-rings” are reinforced to prevent them from becoming detached. The Quick-snap buckles used are safe-lock, making the harness escape-proof, yet still easy to put on and take off.
The soft sponge padding, easy-clean nylon Oxford fabric tough enough to resist even the most determined chewer. The harness has reflective straps for excellent nighttime visibility, and there’s a handy grab handle for extra control and assistance for your pet in and out of your vehicle.
We love that this harness is a perfect choice for budget-conscious dog owners. It’s designed for easy on and easy off, and it’s fully adjustable. It’s super strong, dense fabric and has reflective straps for improved nighttime visibility and safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section of our guide, we answer some of the most commonly-asked questions about no-pull dog harnesses. If you don’t find the information you’re looking for, please shoot us an email or ask your question in the comments section below, and we’ll do our best to help you!
My dog pulls really hard on the leash. What can I do to stop him?
The first thing you’ll need to do is to read our full guide! You’ll find plenty of helpful advice and tips here on what to do if you have a dog that pulls on the leash. Also, you’ll need to invest in one of the no-pull dog harnesses we’ve reviewed for you. Next, it’s a case of training your dog not to pull. That takes time and patience, but the effort will be worth it in the end.
How does a no-pull harness work?
A no-pull dog harness has a leash attachment point sited on the front of the harness, on the dog’s chest. When your unruly pet pulls on the leash, the harness turns the dog to the side, preventing him from pulling you forward.
Is a no-pull dog harness cruel?
No. Provided that the harness is fitted and used correctly, it’s not cruel. Make sure that the harness is fitted tight enough that you can fit two fingers underneath all the straps. That ensures that the harness won’t slip around, allowing your dog to escape, choking him, or rubbing his skin. If the harness is too tight, the skin may become pinched and sore underneath the harness straps, and your dog won’t be able to move freely.
Will a head-halter cure my dog of pulling on the leash?
A head-halter will certainly help to stop your dog from pulling on his leash. However, head-halters can be distressing to some dogs and should only be used as a training aid while you’re teaching your dog not to pull. Always use a head-halter under the supervision of your vet or dog behaviorist. Never use a head-halter with an extending leash. The force of a running dog impacting with the end of a 30-foot line could cause serious injury.
Will a dog harness make my dog pull more?
A dog pulls against the feeling of his collar tightening against the leash. Contrary to popular belief, a harness won’t cause your dog to pull more. However, if your dog does pull against a collar and leash, try fitting him with a no-pull harness to help cure the habit.
Is a head-halter the same as a muzzle?
No. A head-halter is designed to discourage a dog from pulling. A muzzle is designed to prevent a dog from biting or eating stuff that he shouldn’t.
Can a choke collar stop my dog from pulling?
Unfortunately, using a choke collar or chain can cause your dog physical injury when he pulls on the leash. The more discomfort your dog experiences, the more he will pull against the source of the pain. So, the problem of pulling could be made worse by a choke collar, rather than better.
Always choose a no-pull harness, and use that as a training aid to break your dog’s habit of pulling on his leash. Use a recommended no-pull dog harness to help break your dog’s habit of pulling.
If not used correctly as a training aid, head-halters can cause injury and pain to your dog. A no-pull dog harness has a leash attachment point on the front of the harness. A regular harness has an attachment point on the back.
Always remember that patient, consistent training can be used to teach your dog not to pull on his leash. If you aren’t having luck with a regular leash and collar or other type of harness, try stepping into the no-pull option and see how your pup reacts.