Are you standing in the pet shop looking hopelessly at the vast amount of puppy harnesses and leads there are to choose from? What will it be…leopard print or a simple blue hue?

Puppy harnesses are an excellent way to walk your puppy and help them socialise safely, without any worries of pulling on their neck or choking themselves through excitement. 

In this article, we give you a great overview of everything there is to know about your puppy wearing a harness, how to choose and fit the right harness for your puppy and what we feel are the best puppy harnesses right now. Just gotta stay on-trend ya’know?

Actually, fitting a harness and choosing the right one isn’t the easiest thing to do. First, you’ll need to teach your puppy that it’s not a big deal to wear one through positive reinforcement training. On the Zigzag app, we have a world of dedicated lessons on puppy harnesses and leads, and as well as helpful tips on how to teach your puppy that they’re alright to be around.  We also have a team of dedicated expert puppy coaches, who are all qualified and experienced dog trainers and behaviourists, ready to talk you through any problems you might have. 

beagle on a lead
Photo by Anthony Fomin on Unsplash

Should your puppy wear a harness?

Most of the time, puppies benefit greatly from wearing a well-fitting harness over just wearing a collar when taking them out and about and starting to socialise. Here’s why: 

  • Puppies can be a bit wild and a harness won’t hurt them if they get excited and lunge at someone or something. Collars can hurt a puppy’s throat if they pull, so a harness is much kinder on them.
  • Getting a puppy harness and lead will mean your puppy can walk safely while helping with training and socialisation. Don’t underestimate the peace of mind this will give you too.
  • Harnesses are less likely to be slipped by a wiggly puppy, like collars sometimes can, making them a safer option. See? This also helps your peace of mind. 
  • Harnesses are great for recall training as you can attach a long lead or recall line to the back of the harness and keep your puppy safe.
  • Using a car harness for puppy is much safer than tethering your puppy’s collar on to a seat belt clip – don’t want them to get a nasty pull by the next from one of those dramatic breaks you do.

How to choose the right harness for your dog?

When picking out a puppy harness and lead there are a few things you’ll want to bear in mind:

1. Choose the right style of puppy harness for your puppy’s shape

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so there isn’t exactly a ‘one size fits all’ harness which works for every single dog. “Y Shaped” harnesses are generally comfortable for most dogs to wear, as they spread the load throughout and do not restrict movement.

2. Overhead harness or clip in puppy harness?

Some puppy harnesses need your puppy to put their head through the opening and then do up underneath, while others clip around your puppy’s neck and underneath. Some dogs are not comfortable putting their head in harnesses, so being able to open the neck will be a good solution for them.

3. Choose a puppy harness with two points of contact 

We like puppy harnesses with two points of contact, where the lead can be attached at both the front and rear. This is especially handy if you’re using a harness with a double-ended training lead, one of the best leads for puppy lead training, since you can put one end on the back and the other on the front, which helps keep the dog stay balanced and will be very useful when teaching your puppy not to pull.

4. Choose the right material for your puppy harness and lead

If your dog is a small breed, you’ll want a lightweight material that isn’t too heavy for your puppy. On the other hand, a larger breed of dog who develops quite a bit of muscle, needs to have a puppy harness that can withstand an over-enthusiastic tug to say hello. Does your puppy turn into a fish at the sight of water? It is probably not best to choose a leather harness or one with metal fastenings as it will look rather dreadful with time. 

5. Go for extra straps if you have an escape artist

Some dogs are like Houdini and can escape out of harnesses easily. Once they’ve learnt how to slip it once, you can bet they will do it again! While making sure the harness is fitted properly is essential, some types of dogs, such as sighthounds, or rescue dogs do well to have a harness with extra straps underneath to keep them secure. 

puppy on lead with harness and lead
Photo by Jackson Jost on Unsplash

The best UK puppy harnesses

When it comes to puppy harnesses in the UK, we understand that there might be too many options. We’ve compiled a shortlist of the best puppy harness UK edition for you to take a look at, and find the one that fits most to your puppy’s needs and their dashing style.

1 Best padded Y-shaped harness

The DOG Copenhagen Comfort Walk Pro Harness is a Y shape harness, which spreads any pressures across your puppy evenly. It has two points of contact for you to attach your training lead on the front and/or back, and is also nicely padded. If your dog doesn’t like putting their head through a harness or finds it too bulky, then you can look at DOG Copenhagen Comfort Walk Air Harness as this does up around the neck and is a slimmer shape. For a budget-friendly option, have a look at the MOKCCI Truelove Soft Front Dog Harness.

2 Best escape-proof puppy harness

If your puppy or dog has a longer body or likes to see how easy they can slip in and out from harnesses, then it’s a good idea to look for one with extra girth straps. The RUFFWEAR Web Master is a great way to go for fussy pups – there’s no way out. 

We also like the BELPRO Multi-Use Support Dog Harness and Didog Escape Proof Dogs Harness for more budget friendly options.

3. Best harness for long walks or hikes

Here at Zigzag, we’re not fans of the old fashioned method of making a dog carry weight to calm them down or ‘work’ them. Seriously though, how is that meant to help. However, it can be useful to have some pockets on your dog’s harness if you enjoy long walks and hikes for some snacks and treats along the way. The RUFFWEAR Every-Day Dog Harness has a grab handle for supporting your dog while climbing or on hikes, and two points of contact on the front and back for attaching your lead. 

4. Best car harness for puppy 

For a safe car harness for puppy, you want a harness that is going to be crash-tested. Our favourite harness for the car is the Kurgo Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Dog Car Harness. It’s been through all the crash-tests and can also be converted to a regular walking harness. It’s difficult to find anything safer.

5. Best puppy vest harness and lead set

Vest harnesses are quite popular for puppies, though many require the puppy to put their head through and aren’t so adjustable around the neck so the fit isn’t the best. The PET SPPTIES Puppy Vest Harness With Lead is a step-in vest style harness which does up around the back, and most puppies will find this easy to get on.

puppy in harness playing with ball
Photo by Chris Knight on Unsplash

Harness vs collar: which one is better for your puppy 

Are you debating on just a collar or pairing it with a harness? It could be useful to jot down the pros and cons of each. 

Collars are easy to put on your puppy and can hold their ID tags, but they can choke your puppy if they pull and can be easy for your puppy to reverse out of. Puppies will often scratch at their collars too.

Puppy harnesses take a little more time to put on your puppy, and you might need to teach your puppy to accept wearing them, but they do give you greater control and safety when walking and training your puppy. 

To be honest, we think that having both is actually the best. Outrageous, we know! But UK law says your dog must wear a collar and an ID tag, and we’d much rather you walk your puppy in a well-fitting harness, as it’s generally kinder and safer. Best of both worlds if you ask us. 

Since you’re already asking about collars and harnesses, you probably have questions about what else to buy for your new puppy. Perhaps you’re looking for a collartraining lead, new blanket, a puppy bed, or if you simply want some good advice on puppy training.

By downloading the Zigzag puppy training app, you can start your training journey today and access a team of expert puppy coaches who’ll be with you every step of the way. Look at that – it rhymes beautifully. 

We’re also endorsed by some of the leading dog training and behaviour organisations, so take a look at what they have to say about us!