I wanted to call this the “Naked Harness”, but that could’ve been taken out of context. 😄 So, for the time being, until I can think of a better name, this is my “Deconstructed Dog Harness”.
There are literally dozens and dozens of dog harness designs on the market. Some work better than others. Personally, I prefer those that clip or pull from the front. My experience with harnesses that fasten from the back, between the dog’s shoulders, is that they tend to make the dog pull even more. Dogs have a built-in Opposition Reflex, meaning they will pull in the opposite direction of any force…if you push, they’ll push back, if you pull backwards, they’ll pull forwards.
A front-clipping harness does not mean you’re pulling your dog. Dogs have four legs, we have two, so naturally the dog, unless it’s afraid and putting the brakes on, will be going faster than its handler, and giving the impression that it’s pulling ahead eagerly. We’re not going to talk about how to get a dog to heel or walk on a loose leash here, we’re talking about dogs that pull and harnesses that deter them from doing that type of behaviour.
At the risk of trying to reinvent the wheel, I wanted to create a no-pull dog harness that:
1) is easy to put on and take off. Many dogs are head-shy, which makes it difficult for handlers to slip a harness over their heads. Others get overly excited and prance about, which makes “step-in” harnesses hard to put on.
2) doesn’t constrict movement around the shoulders or chest. Many harnesses on the market have adjustable straps on either side of the chest and/or on either side of the shoulder area. This means fitting a harness on different dogs is potentially an exercise in adjusting 2 – 4 straps each time. Poorly fitted harnesses can constrict the dog’s chest, chafe its underarms and chest, poke into its shoulder blades.
3) is secure. Some harnesses on the market require you to purchase a “connector strap” which provide extra security should the harness break or come undone. Others have no protection in the event of metal/fabric fatigue.
And so, after Pinning lots of harness ideas onto my Pinterest board “Dogs 101”, aka “research”, I came up with my “Deconstructed Harness”.
Here are its 4 constituent parts (these are the raw parts before sewing, they’ve just been pinned in place):
From top to bottom:
Girth belt – constructed like a giant dog collar
Back Connector – connects the Girth Belt to the Collar
Collar – exactly like a standard dog collar, but with an extra D or O ring for the Back Connector to clip to
Front connector – this bit joins the Girth Belt to the dog’s Collar, and the O ring is where the dog’s lead clips to and leads the dog
4 hours sewing later…(yes, really)
This photo shows the Girth Belt on the left and the Collar on the right. The top of the Girth Belt is connected via the Back Connector to the extra D or O ring on the back of the Collar. The bottom of the Girth Belt is connected to the O ring on the front of the Collar, using the clip, while the strap with the small end O ring passes through the ring on the Collar. The lead is clipped to this small ring. All 4 components can be disengaged from each other, and the collar can be worn on its own.
Shelagh was my very patient and cooperative model through all this. Here she is sporting the complete outfit.
Photo showing the Girth Belt, Back Connector and Collar.
Photo showing the Bottom Connector passing to the front between Shelagh’s front legs, and clipping to the Collar, with the small end O ring passing through the Collar’s O ring and clipped to the lead.
Shelagh was so patient with my endless measuring, adjusting and fitting of the harness. Love that dog so much!!
All set and ready to go! I chose a camouflage cotton fabric sewn over webbing for this harness. My next one will be in bold, bright colours, I think!