Many dog owners commonly prefer harnesses as a safer alternative to collars which can cause neck injuries, but a question we’re commonly asked is; Can I leave my dog’s harness on all day?
The answer is No you should not leave a dogs harness on all day.
Harnesses are also not designed to have pressure on them all day, so they may cause sores under the armpits if worn all day. Even if it is fully padded, it can still rub and cause sore spots!
A well-fitting harness designed for purpose can be worn for more extended periods. For example, service dogs or assistance dogs tend to wear their harnesses for hours at a time, but it’s still advisable to remove them when your dog is sleeping, so they do not develop sores.
Your dog’s comfort and safety are largely dependent on your choices, so below, let’s examine some of the reasons it’s not advisable to leave a dog in a harness all the time.
Why Harnesses are Better Than a Collar
A dog can suffer all sorts of problems when wearing a collar, especially a small dog at risk of tracheal collapse or a brachycephalic dog breed like a Bulldog or Pug. However, whilst they are not putting pressure on the neck, they need to be fitted correctly to avoid the risk of chest injury. For more on a harnesses vs collar, read this guide.
Things to Consider When Leaving Dog Harnesses on 24/7
If you use a dog harness for walking your pet, you may be tempted to leave it on, especially if it’s taken you some time to adjust it correctly. However, whether it’s a back clip harness or a training harness, there are a few things to consider that may make you think again!
The dog harness may cause discomfort.
While there are specific designs that take the comfort of your dog into consideration, most harnesses aren’t designed to be worn all day and may cause skin irritation, or if it’s tight, it may put pressure on certain parts of the body as your dog lies down. Some dog breeds like Pit Bulls, Greyhounds and Bulldogs have deep chests and it can be challenging to find the right harness that fits your dog perfectly, making it more likely to chafe your dog’s body.
A dog harness is perfectly safe for walking and even wearing in the house for short periods. However, they have a lot of straps that can cause injuries, especially if your dog is left wearing them unsupervised, something may get caught in the harness, and Fido may injure himself trying to get free.
Also, some dog harnesses have a front clip; these types of harness can hang low in the front and alter your dog’s gait slightly; this may not cause an issue in the short term but could result in problems if they wear a harness constantly.
Can cause matted fur
When a dog harness is left on for long periods, hair or fur can easily get tangled in it or mat, especially if you have a dog with long hair. This can cause your dog discomfort and might even lead to pain when trying to remove the harness – not something any pet owner wants to deal with!
Puppies may chew the harness.
Your dog may start to chew the harness in an attempt to remove it if the harness is left on for too long. This is especially true if it’s a delicious smelling leather harness or you have a puppy. Even if your pooch doesn’t usually treat the harness as a chew toy, they may get bored.
A wet harness – the risks
A wet harness doesn’t dry in minutes; it stays wet on your dog’s skin for hours, increasing the risk of skin infections, yeast infections and hot spots etc., which are caused by moisture. Therefore it’s essential to remove dog harnesses when it’s wet. Unless it’s made of breathable fabric, moisture can still occur under the armpits etc., even if you’ve not been on a rainy walk.
Different types of harness
No pull harnesses are fantastic if your pup pulls on the leash and you end up being taken for a walk instead of them. They often have a leash attachment on your dog’s chest, although some styles lift and tighten around the legs to deter your dog pulling.
Back clip dog harness
If your puppy only pulls occasionally or you have a small dog, the right harness for you may be one of these as they are suitable for less aggressive dogs. The leash attaches at the back and you can use a double leash attached to your dog’s collar for extra control if needed.
Commonly made from breathable mesh or nylon, as the name implies, these are similar to a vest and are less strappy. Dog vests are excellent for a small dog as they can make nervous dogs feel more secure; they also do not chafe as much as a regular harness; if you want to have your dog wear a harness indoors, these are the best option.
Dog’s Chest harness
These are dog harnesses like the Julius K9 harness; your pooch will still be able to pull with this type of harness as the leash is attached at the back. Although the pressure from the leash is on the chest rather than the throat area, they do not do as much damage as a collar for puppies and adult dogs. They need to be fitted correctly and if worn indoors, the chest strap should be quite loose, so pets don’t feel it tighten as they lie down.
Can a dog wear a vest harness all day?
In theory, a dog can wear these harnesses 24 hours a day; however, this is not advisable. Ideally, pet owners should only put a harness on their dogs when going out for a walk, training, or other outdoor activities when it will be needed.
Are harnesses bad for dogs?
No, harnesses are great for training purposes and daily dog walking, they give more control if your dog pulls and are much better for aggressive dogs, but they should not be worn all the time.
How long should a dog wear a harness?
Many dogs wear a harness all the time during the day, for example, service and police dogs; however, these dog harness types are designed to be worn for longer and are padded around the dog’s chest and leg area.
Should I take my dog’s harness off at night?
Yes, definitely, it’s rare, but if the harness gets caught or tangled in any bedding, it may cause a choking hazard for your dog. Older dogs may find it difficult to get comfortable wearing a harness all the time, plus the moisture caused if your pooch gets too hot may cause a skin infection if the harness rubs.
Harnesses are a much safer alternative for pets than dog collars; there are front clip harnesses to prevent pulling, ones designed for hiking and others intended for use in the car. The one thing they all have in common is that they have buckles and straps, both of which can rub and cause your pup discomfort, especially if worn all the time.
Some vest harnesses can be worn for longer periods as they can give your pet a feeling of security, but it’s always essential to ensure the correct fit as being both too loose and too tight can cause problems.
You should be able to fit two fingers snugly between your dog’s skin and the harness and for a puppy, regularly check to make sure they haven’t outgrown the harness and it isn’t too tight, the same as you would for a collar.
To sum up, put your dog’s harness on for a stroll or training, then take it off and let your pet relax afterwards, perhaps with a stylish house collar.