The Best Puppy Harness You Can Buy, According To Trainers
To start your leash training off right.
Successfully leash training your puppy is one of the most important milestones in both his life and yours as a pet parent. Being able to head out on walks without your pup pulling on or getting tangled in his leash is a skill he’ll carry throughout his entire life.
But to leash train effectively, you need to invest in a great puppy harness that will make the process so much easier and safer.
We talked to certified trainers to find out which is the best puppy harness you can use to leash train your dog, and there are a handful of great options for puppies both big and small, and those going through a growth spurt.
- Best overall puppy harness: 2 Hounds Freedom Harness
- The runner-up: Blue-9 Balance No-Pull Dog Harness
- Best padded puppy harness: IVY&LANE Vest Harness
- Best step-in puppy harness: Best Pet Supplies Voyager Adjustable Dog Harness
- Best X-shape puppy harness: Gooby Pet Comfort X Harness
- Best for your super-small breed: Frisco Small Breed Soft Vest Harness
What to consider when shopping for a puppy harness
When looking for the best puppy harness for your dog, there are a few key elements to keep in mind. The best puppy harness is one that is adjustable, features a front and back clip, and fits your dog comfortably (isn’t so loose that he might slip out or so tight that it causes chafing).
Is it adjustable?
“When looking for a good puppy harness, I love one that is quite adjustable, as puppies grow quickly,” Rover Dog People panelist and certified professional dog trainer Nicole Ellis told The Dodo. “One with multiple adjustable straps is ideal.”
Adjustability is key because you want to make sure your puppy’s harness not only fits well at his current stage of life, but will fit well as he grows larger, too. “Puppies aren't always the best walkers, and it's important to do what we can to prevent them from slipping out of the harness and creating a potentially dangerous situation,” Ellis said.
Some harnesses have adjustment sliders on all straps, whereas others only have adjustment sliders on one or two straps, so make sure you understand how your puppy will grow and take that into account when choosing the right harness for your dog.
Does it have both a front and back clip?
Some harnesses only have a D-ring clip attachment on the back of the harness near your dog’s neck. But other harnesses have both the back clip and a clip located on the chest strap of the harness, which could make training your puppy to walk on a leash much easier.
“The front clip allows for an owner to control the front half of the dog and makes it easier to redirect, maneuver and establish a proper walking position by your side with a leash that is short but not tense,” dog trainer with Dan’s Pet Care Stephanie Weinberg told The Dodo.
Weinberg continued, “The back clip keeps the leash out from under their feet when engaged in free-roam activities such as sniffing walks, hikes or trails.”
Having the option to walk your puppy using either clip may be beneficial for pet parents still in the training stages.
What’s it made out of?
Harnesses can be made from nylon straps — the same material standard flat leashes are made from — or padded, cushioned fabric or neoprene. Though most trainers recommend a nylon strap harness, small dogs and puppies who can’t fit into these harnesses may be better suited for padded, fabric harnesses instead.
How do you put it on?
Harnesses come in all different shapes and sizes, and how they fit may impact your dog’s comfort. Trainers mostly recommend a Y- or T-strap fit that slips over your dog’s head, crosses over his shoulders and buckles around his belly because these harnesses tend to be the most adjustable.
“Step-in” harnesses can be made of nylon or fabric and don’t require you to pull anything over your dog’s head, but, rather, your dog steps into leg holes and you secure the harness at your dog’s back.
And some harnesses are X-shaped, meaning they form an X at the chest, which is great for pups who have a tendency to pull on their harnesses, because it won’t put pressure on their trachea. These almost always slip on over the head.
The best puppy harnesses for every kind of pup
Here are the best picks, according to the trainers we talked to.
“My favorite harness, hands down, is the Freedom Harness,” trainer Irith Bloom of The Sophisticated Dog told The Dodo. “It won’t necessarily fit every puppy, since the hardware they use means it can’t be below a certain size, but it’s a very secure harness.”
Weinberg also prefers the Freedom Harness because it has both a front and back clip. It’s also fully adjustable and comes in various sizes to fit chests ranging from 15 inches to 44 inches. The Freedom Harness also comes with a matching leash.
“My go-to is the Blue-9 Balance harness as every strap is adjustable so I know it will be the perfect fit no matter what shaped puppy!” Ellis said. It also comes in plenty of sizes — extra-small through large are available.
Plus, the Y shape of the Blue-9 Balance harness gives your puppy free range of shoulder motion. Ellis prefers a harness that doesn’t restrict shoulder movement, as “this can lead to gait issues down the line.”
If you’re looking for adjustability and a front-clipping harness but want to get something a bit more padded than the nylon strap harnesses listed above, then this harness from IVY&LANE is a good option. All the nylon straps are adjustable, and the padded harness even comes with a heavy-duty gripping handle in case you need to keep your puppy more firmly in place.
An extra-small size can fit puppies with chests as small as 13 inches, and a large can be adjusted up to 35 inches.
The Voyager puppy harness from Best Pet Supplies allows your pup to step into the leg holes — each of which are totally adjustable — and secures behind his shoulders with a sturdy plastic clip. This harness comes in five different sizes so you can get the one that best fits your puppy now and in the future!
Vox pet parent Bart Szyszka said he loves the Comfort X harness from Gooby Pet because the design prevents choking if and when his dog pulls on the harness. “I like that these avoid touching the trachea (my previous dog’s vet warned about tracheal collapse),” Szyszka told The Dodo, noting that this design is especially ideal for flat-faced breeds because they are more prone to tracheal collapse.
Some puppies are just too tiny to be suited up in standard-sized nylon harnesses. For those tiny pups, you should check out the Frisco small breed vest harness that’s designed to fit puppies with chests as small as 11 inches. This harness is a step-in vest style that secures at the back and can be adjusted using the Velcro closure.
“A harness is one point of contact, but always remember to pair your harness with a regular collar with its proper identification tags on them,” Weinberg said.
Buckled into a comfortable, adjustable harness, your puppy will be ready to begin his leash training, and you can have peace of mind that he’ll be safe and sound while working through new cues.