Now that the weather is finally cooling off it’s the perfect time of year to start leash walking your pet. As a veterinary rehab therapist, I talk to my clients about leash walking their dogs every day. Now, I want to take a minute to talk about the kind of equipment we should be using to do so. Harnesses are always my favorite for walking my dog because of how safe they can be to use. A leash attached to a neck collar can cause excessive force and lead to issues such as collapsing the trachea.

There are a variety of harnesses available so I am going to explain the differences to help you pick which one is best for your pet.

Restrictive harness: This is the kind of chest harness that has a strap going horizontally directly over your dog’s shoulder joints and vertically over their upper back. This type of harness puts pressure on the point of the shoulder and upper back. It can cause pinching and compression of their shoulder tendons which can lead to forelimb lameness.

Non-restrictive harness: This is the kind of chest harness that has a Y shaped strap over the dog’s chest and is shaped that way to allow for less stress on the shoulder and upper back as it applies pressure more evenly.

For dogs that pull: The best design is a non-restrictive harness with the front leash attachment. This design does not cause increased tension on the shoulder or upper back and instead acts by squeezing around the middle of the patient which is safer for them.

A quick note about head halters:
*It works well if there are no neck injuries but has a high risk of causing neck and eye injuries if not used properly. The handler must avoid twisting and stressing the neck when the dog pulls too hard.

I hope this information helps you pick the best equipment to make leash walking your pet easier and safer. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to email us at Thanks Dr. Jennifer Martinson with UVHSmart!