Is a No-Pull Harness Bad for Dogs? (The Pro’s & Cons)

For years, dog owners have been told that a no-pull harness is the way to go when training their dog to walk politely on a leash. But, in recent years, some experts have started to question this advice and wonder if this type of harness is bad for your pet.

A harness is often considered a better alternative to a collar for your dog but is it?

In our article today, we will look into the pros and cons of both sides of the debate so you can make an informed decision about which harness is right for your pup.

Is a no-pull harness bad for dogs? That’s the question on many UK dog owners’ minds, especially since these harnesses have gained popularity in recent years. So, what’s the answer? Let’s take a look.

Are No-Pull Harnesses Safe?

Dog trainers use them and they can be beneficial for strong pullers as they have a front clip leash attachment instead of a back ring. This type of harness directs the dog towards you as they pull without putting pressure on the dog’s neck like a traditional collar and leash combo. A no-pulling harness can be safe if not used for long periods when used correctly.

Dogs carry 60% of their weight on their front legs and recent studies have shown that when a restrictive harness is worn whilst leash walking, some of this weight is transferred to the hind legs, which shows a no-pull harness is uncomfortable for them.

It isn’t recommended to use a no-pull harness on young dogs or a puppy as the restriction to their shoulders can hinder their development and a restrictive harness shouldn’t be used for canine athletes either as these dogs require a full range of motion.

What Makes for a Good Harness for Your Dog?

Any harness you choose for your dog, be it one that stops pulling or a back clip dog harness, should be made of high-quality materials and preferably padded around the chest area. The fastenings and buckles should be sturdy and there should be some adjustment points so that you can customise the fit, especially if you own barrel-chested dogs or oddly shaped ones like Bassett Hounds and Dachshunds.

We would advise picking a dog harness with both a back and front clip to attach the leash and a grab handle is also handy, there are various designs available but the best are ones that don’t rest across the shoulders. Take a look at our in-depth no pull dog harness reviews to find the perfect fit for your pup.

Like when you fit a collar on your dog, you should be able to place two fingers between the harness and your dog’s skin. If it’s too tight, it will chafe and if it’s too loose, your dog may be able to slip out of it whilst on a walk which could be potentially fatal.

Potential Risks of Anti Pull Harnesses

Most owners who find it difficult to control a dog pulling will agree that an anti-pull harness is a godsend and a great alternative to a standard collar, but there are some risks you should be aware of when you walk your pet with a harness.

If it doesn’t fit your dog well, there could be a risk of injury and you may find using a double-ended leash attached to both the back and front is better for brachycephalic breeds such as Bulldogs and Pugs or those with tracheal issues.

You should never leave your dog unsupervised when wearing a harness, as it could easily become a choking hazard, for example, if it gets caught in their crate. Never leave the harness on when it is wet after a walk, as it may cause your pet to get skin infections.

When No-Pull Harnesses Can be Bad for Dogs

Although your dog may pull less when wearing a harness with a front lead attachment, there are some disadvantages and your dog may be uncomfortable, which none of us wants.

They restrict your dog’s body movement.

These harnesses limit pulling but also restrict shoulder flexion, which affects your dog’s gait and balance. A no-pull harness put’s no pressure on the throat like ordinary collars, but these harnesses sit above some important muscles and tendons such as the biceps and supraspinatus. Compression and restricted motion in this area can lead to inflammation, pain and even arthritis in the long term.

A harness that prevents pulling also affects your dog’s balance, which is key to overall health, fitness and core strength. If your pup does wear a harness, it’s worth incorporating some balance exercises into your best friend’s activities.

It can be hard to get the right fit.

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and if you read the reviews on no-pull harnesses, sizing issues are one of the main negative feedback. Each brand has its own sizing guidelines and there is no one size fits all.

It can be hard to get harnesses that fit barrel-chested dogs like Pit Bulls, Greyhounds and Bulldogs. If the harness doesn’t fit correctly, it can chafe and cause skin irritation, resulting in your dog being uncomfortable and may even result in chest injury if your dog is pulling hard constantly. Even if you have the right fit they can be difficult to put on, that’s why we have this guide to show you how to put on a no pull dog harness.

Small dogs

Harnesses with a front clip are not always the best solution for small dogs; this is for two reasons; if your pooch is low to the ground, the lead at the front may get tangled around their front limbs and cause them to stumble.

Also, little dogs have a delicate bone structure, which is why collars can cause damage to their windpipe but any pressure on any part of their bodies when pulling can result in injuries. A back clip harness is usually best for teeny pups or a wide flat collar.

They are no substitute for loose-leash training.

While front-clip harnesses are great for many owners whose dogs pull, they address the symptoms, not the cause. Proper dog training is the only way to get your dog to stop pulling when you go for a walk and it’s not difficult; all you need is some time, patience and a pocketful of tasty treats, so why not give it a try.

This video shows how to train your dog to walk on a loose lead.

Last Word

A no-pull harness is an excellent tool for dog owners looking to stop their pet from pulling on the leash during walks. You may be wondering whether or not these devices are safe; are they better than a collar? We’ve summarised both of the pros and cons above.

One pro of this type of product is that it helps encourage canine cooperation when walking. It gives the dog owner more control over larger, more powerful breeds. Its design wraps around the dog’s torso rather than just sitting atop their neck as traditional collars do, but there are some disadvantages too!

We know that trying to find a harness for your dog can feel overwhelming. You have the option between front attachments or no pull restraints, which come with their own set of benefits and risks!

We recommend doing the research before purchasing any new equipment for your dog, so you are informed about all potential problems down the line.

John Devlin

Hi, my name is John, and I am the founder of Dogsbarn – a UK-based website dedicated to helping the owners of furry friends enjoy life with their four-legged companion. We currently own two golden retrievers, George and Henry, who love running around in the park together. We are thinking about adding a third – called Frank! Our mission is to provide excellent guides and introduce great products we’ve bought or come across online.