Dog harness

Dog harness

A dog harness is piece of equipment for dogs, generally similar to harness tack for horses. There are various designs depending on the type of use, whether it be for assistance to a disabled person, hauling a cart or sled, or pulling a human being, such as in skijoring or pulka. Harnesses are also commonly worn by non-working dogs.

Pet harnesses

A harness is commonly worn in conjunction with a collar and used as an alternative for leash attachment. While a collar only encircles the neck, harnesses have a loop that surrounds the torso as well, with connecting straps between them for reinforcement. This design allows for distribution of force which may prevent choking and a lower chance of slipping out than may be possible with only a collar. Harness usage is growing in popularity among many pet owners- especially for those with smaller breed dogs. Recently, pet clothing frequently sports a properly-placed buttonhole for hooking a leash to the harness worn under the garment. Dog harnesses that are designed to look like clothes are available. These items are designed to reduce the stress placed on a small dogs neck while walking on a lead.

Assistance dog harnesses

Assistance dogs will sometimes wear a harness if part of their job includes guiding or providing physical or mobility assistance. A handle is generally built in for the person to grip, along with more reinforcement or padding in the breast area of the dog. Overall sturdiness of the design depends on whether the dog is gently leading, acting as a brace, or physically pulling a wheelchair (where the design may be similar to that of a sled dog's).

Sled dog harnesses

Sled dog harnesses vary depending on whether the dog is hauling freight or racing. Harnesses come in three main types: the freight harness, the H-back harness, and the X-back harness. Dog sports are growing and more types of harnesses are being developed, including the Y-back style and guard or distance harness. This type of harness is quickly becoming a favorite for those who enjoy skijoring.

The freight harness, often an H-back harness with a wide chestband and sometimes extra padding, is designed to help the dog pull heavy weights efficiently, and may feature a spreader bar behind the wheel dogs and before the sled or cart. The straps form an 'H' or ladder-like effect across the back of the dog. These harnesses help distribute the weight of the cargo over a broader body area.

Racing harnesses are lighter and shorter than freight harnesses. The X-back harness, so called because the straps form an 'X' across the back of the dog, is used more frequently than the H-back, with short versions that ride farther forward on the dog's body recently gaining in popularity.

The Y-back or hybrid harness is similar in appearance to the H-back. The tugline attaches to the harness on top of the dog's back and stretches parallel to the ground or upwards to the skier, bicycle, or other load.

In contrast, dogs that participate in weight pulls (as compared to a regular freight harness) will wear very heavy, padded harnesses, with broad chestbands to help spread the weight and prevent harm to the dog.

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