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Finding the Right Harness for Your Service Dog

Your service pet works hard, and he deserves to be comfortable. Every time you walk out the door, he must slide into his vest and harness, so why not make sure it feels good to wear.

Table of Contents

Types of Harnesses

Shopping for a dog harness can seem overwhelming; after all there are so many styles to choose from. But, don’t worry, it is not going to be as difficult as it seems. Remember, many harnesses are designed to control pets. Your service animal is more than a pet  he’s a highly trained professional and won’t need many of the control harnesses you will see on store shelves.

What to Look For

When shopping you will likely come across one of these styles:

  • Class Harness: this is a basic harness, usually made of strong webbing, with metal or plastic clip. In most cases the leash hooks onto the animals’ back.
  • Front Clip Harness: this style offers more control over the animal and prohibits pulling. Service animals generally don’t need to be controlled in this manner, so you don’t need to worry about getting a front clip version.
  • Soft Vest Harness: a flexible and comfortable style for service dogs, a soft vest harness with a back clip is common among the service animal community. Not only does it allow the dog to move unencumbered, if features a pliable material that isn’t as likely to rub against the skin.

Of course, the style of the harness is not the only thing to consider when you buy: the material it is made from is also important. While leather is long-lasting and strong, it can feel heavy and become hot. Nylon, however, allows more air flow and tends to be more flexible which adds to the animal’s comfort.

Get the Right Fit

You wouldn’t want to walk around all day in jeans that were too tight and a sweater that itched, would you? Then you will want to make sure that your pet’s harness doesn’t feel as uncomfortable. You don’t want them to feel like restrictive clothes that don’t fit. The key to the perfect fit is to measure carefully , This begins by:

  • Measuring the broadest part of the dog’s chest
  • Measure at the fullest part of the neck
  • Weight your dog

What's Next?

Once you have these important measurements (in both inches and centimeters), then compare them to the sizing charts. You can find these chart’s online or at any pet store. Be sure to choose the harness that best fits these measurements  and don’t pick the smaller size because that is going to feel tight.

Once you have chosen a harness, check the fit to make sure that you can fit two fingers between the material and your pet’s skin. If you can’t, then it is too tight; and if more than two fingers fit then you need to tighten it a bit.

Other Considerations

What else should you consider when shopping for a new harness for your service animal? Here are few suggestions:

  • The weight of the harness: remember, your pet is going to wearing this piece of equipment for most of the day. Avoid heavy materials and harnesses with extra buckles or accessories that may dangle or rub against the skin.
  • Make sure it is made of breathable material: imagine having to wear a winter coat on a warm summer day. The wrong harness can feel that hot and sticky. Be sure that your dog’s harness is made with a breathable material that won’t induce sweating.
  • Check for rubbing elements. Some people can’t stand tags rubbing against their back from their shorts. Therefore, why expect your dog to deal with that! Buckles, snaps or other accessories that may rub against their neck, belly, side or chest will not be good? Check the harness for parts that may feel uncomfortable when worn for extended hours.


An important piece of a service animals uniform, the harness may be a necessity, but that doesn’t mean it should not be comfortable. Follow these tips and your service animal to ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable every time you leave the house.

Get Your ESA Today


Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.


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