Most dog owners think they know how to put on a dog harness. Sadly, the majority don’t do it right. Without the proper fit, a dog could get loose or become injured. Harnesses for dogs that are too tight could restrict the animal’s range of motion, making it impossible to walk comfortably. In the above video and below guide I’ll explain how to put a harness on a dog properly.

Table of Contents [show]

Using a dog harness properly

Dog experts and trainers say, and even studies show, that dog harnesses are much safer than traditional dog collars, and they are more comfortable for your canine companion. Dog harness can also be a great tool to use while leash training your dog, and they come in many different styles with features for hiking, running and driving in the car.

How To Put On A Dog Harness 101No matter which type of dog harness you purchase – you need to make sure that it is fit properly on your dog. Knowing which harness you need to use and then how to put a harness on a dog are the first two crucial steps.

As you’ll see in my video above, there are two types of traditional walking harnesses for dogs. You can also buy a dog harnesses that helps to stop your dog from pulling on a leash, but they are all different and should be used specifically according to the directions.

Most of these dog harnesses are effective because they put pressure on a certain area of your dog’s body, like the snout or hind legs. While they are indeed safer than collars, if you don’t fit a dog harness according the guidelines, your Fido could suffer a severe injury.

For the purpose of this video on how to put on a dog harness, I focused on two of the most common types of harnesses – the over-the-head dog harness and step-into dog harness. They are both used for walking dogs on a leash, and they perform the exact same function. You’ll need to choose the type of dog harness that you prefer, and the one that is most comfortable and safe for your pooch.


How to Put on a Dog Harness
A Step-by-Step Guide


1. Step-Into Dog Harness

In my video above, you’ll see my pooch Saddie model the step-into harness and I’m walking you through the process of how to put a harness on a dog of this kind. Saddie wasn’t being very cooperative in the heat, but at least you can see how to do it. Just in case the instructions weren’t very clear, here’s what you must know about this.

How to do it?

Check the harness. The first thing you’ll need to do is check to see if your dog’s harness is marked for right and left side. Some aren’t, but if yours is then you’ll need to make sure each leg gets in the proper hole.

Prepare it. When learning how to put on a dog harness, the easiest thing to do is just lie the harness flat on the ground like you see in the below photo.

Step 2 for How to Put on a Dog Harness
Lay down the harness; get your dog to walk onto it.

Work with your dog. Walk your pooch over to the harness and place each paw in the holes so the dog is standing directly over the harness like in the above photo.

Put it on. Once there, pull it up and around the dog’s chest, and buckle it over your pet’s back or on the side (depending on the type of dog harness that you have).

And you’re done! This is the simplest, quickest and easiest way of how to put on a dog harness if you’re using a step-over type. However, many dog owners find it difficult to make their pets cooperate during this process, which is why an over-the-head dog harness may be an easier option if you’re having trouble. So, here’s how to put a harness on a dog when using an over-the-head type…


2. Over-the-head Dog Harness

Over-the-head dog harnesses are much simpler. This is the type that I personally prefer, as it is easier for me and for my dog, and during my extensive dog harness review I found that majority of other pet owners prefer this one as well, unsurprisingly.

In the above video, you’ll see my second model Molly help me demonstrate how to put on a harness on a dog of this type. You’ll notice that I myself was also having less issues with Molly than with Saddie simply because these harnesses are much easier to work with, and most dogs will cooperate better.

How to do it?

Check and unbuckle. After you check the harness like before, you’ll then need to unbuckle it. If you can’t figure out which hole your dog’s head is supposed to go through, just look at the instructions that came with this dog harness. While most of them are very similar in concept, some manufacturers do add some of their own ideas into the design so the process of how to put on a dog harness using your own might differ very slightly.

Prepare the D-ring. Some of the pet harnesses can be a bit tricky, but what you need to keep in mind here is that in the end, the D-ring should be positioned on your dog’s back and/or chest (again, depending on the specific type of over-the-head harness you’re using, which you’ll know by checking the guidelines of the item).

How To Put On A Dog Harness
Slide the harness over your dog’s head.

Put it on. Now, like you see in the above photo, all you have to do is slide the harness over your dog’s head and buckle it on his side. As long as your pooch isn’t running away, this couldn’t be more simpler.

That’s it! As you can see, this is much easier than having your dog step over a harness, so if you’re worried about not knowing how to put on a dog harness or your pooch simply won’t cooperate, I would recommend starting with the over-the-head harness.

If you need more demonstrations on how to put a harness on a dog, you can also check some of my dog harness reviews and their videos. You’ll see me dealing with different pet harnesses, putting them on and off, and I provide some tips, too:

  • Embark Adventure Dog Harness Review
  • EzyDog Chest Plate Dog Harness Review
  • Dex Dog EZ Harness Review
  • Sleepypod Clickit Utility Dog Car Harness Review
  • Your Perfect Puppy Harness Review

Proper Dog Harness Fit

How To Put On A Dog Harness

Making sure that you get the proper fit is crucial.

If the dog harness is too loose, your pet could slip out of it. If it’s too tight, the dog could experience chaffing or the harness could cut into his skin. A pet harness that is too tight could also restrict your pet’s range of motion, making it painful for him to go for a walk.

Depending on the type and style of harness that you purchase, there may be 2, 4, 6 or even more adjusting points. These adjusting points work with a sliding buckle, just like traditional dog collars. Simply slide the material through the buckle and pull tight.

As you’ll see in my video for how to put on a dog harness, you’ll need to adjust all of these points – not just one or two. At every adjustment point you’ll need to make sure that the strap is tight. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines in case they have specific recommendations for this.

When it comes to adjustment, you’ll want it just tight enough so that you can slip two fingers in between the dog harness and your pet’s body easily. This is the same rule typically applied when fitting a dog collar, and it’s one of the crucial points for learning how to put a harness on a dog and doing it safely and properly.

Once all the adjustment points have been individually tightened, check the fit of the entire pet harness. Try to slide it around. It should NOT slide back and forth across your dog’s body or chest. Gently pull the dog harness towards your pet’s head. It should not slide up over his shoulders either.

How To Measure For and Choose the Right Dog Harness

Once you’ve put on a harness and done your check-ups, then you’re done. The next time will be much easier and simpler after you know all the steps. Learning how to put on a dog harness is a bit of a process, but the good news is that you should only have to do it once. You’ll want to double check the fit every time you secure the harness on your pet, but you shouldn’t have to make adjustments unless your pet grows or gains/loses weight.