Best Small Dog Harness Review – Are Harnesses Bad for Dogs?

Deciding which harness is best for your dog may be a challenging task, that’s why we have done our research, and through extensive testing came up with this list.

Why should you use a harness instead of a regular leash? What different harnesses are there and what is their use? There are so many questions that need to be answered, luckily for you, we have tried to answer all the questions you may have about harnesses in this article.

Don’t just make your final decision on this article alone, make sure you go into each and every one of the harnesses Amazon page and read the manufacturer’s descriptions, other buyers reviews, and the questions and answers. We are confident that you will find the perfect harness for you and your dog in this article.


Before we get started on this list of the best harnesses for your dog, please remember that no dog is the same, make sure you measure your dog properly and order the correct size.

If you are not sure which size will fit, most of the times you can check the questions on their respective Amazon page and someone will have asked and answered similar questions.

The Best Harnesses for Your Dog

In order to find out the best harnesses for your dog, we went and had a look at the internet to find what harnesses others had reviewed, we also checked amazons best sellers and tested a total of 18 different models.

To keep this article sweet and short, we decided to only include the top 5 best harnesses for your dog, so that you can easier pick the one that suits you the best.

Without further ado, let’s get into the list. Below we have listed our top 5 best harnesses for your dog, their specific features, and some pros and cons.

Ruffwear Front Range Harness – Top Recommended

The Ruffwear brand creates some of the best, and most popular products for dogs on the market today. Anything from quality harnesses, to highly durable leashes, boots, and jackets.

The Ruffwear Front Range harness is by far our most favorite harness we have ever gotten our Boxer, and she loves it too! Its soft nylon straps with added padding make this harness super comfortable for our little girl.

It covers a good part of the chest area, and also a smaller area in the back. The harness comes with a tiny pocket for your dog’s ID tag.

Get this harness with the matching Ruffwear Front Range Leash, available on Amazon.

Fit and Other Qualities

During our tests of the Ruffwear Front Range harness, we found that this was by far the most comfortable, and well-made harness of the ones we tested. It comes in different sizes, and it is possible to adjust the straps to fit your dog perfectly.

This is one of the only harnesses on the market that has 4 points of adjustment, which also makes it one of the best fitting ones on the market.

Whether you are looking for a harness for a day at the beach, a trip in the woods, or just simply during high-intensity training, this harness is perfect for any situation. Easy to put on and take off, strap this harness on in a matter of seconds and your dog will hardly notice it.

This harness is equipped with two attachments points for your leash, one in the back as most other models, and one on the chest to prevent pulling. If your dog is a puller, then try attaching your leash to the lower point, if he keeps on pulling from that point you can try attaching two leashes to both the rings or get a double-ended leash.

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Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack

This is the Ruffwear Approach Backpack, a perfect combination between harness and backpack for your dog. Perfect for long walks, weekend trips and much more, it has a lot of storage, full adjustability and the durability Ruffwear is known for.

The two bags are big enough to store food, water, and toys, just make sure you don’t overload your dog and that he can handle the weight. It is recommended that dogs carry no more than 25% of their own body weight.

You can also store a leash, pick up bags and other necessary items for your long walks. Keep in mind that the size of the saddlebags increases with the size of the harness.

Fit and Other Qualities

The straps on the Ruffwear Approach has a great overall fit and are highly adjustable to fit your dog. Other backpacks we have tried tend to wiggle slightly, this one, however, sits very nicely.

Other backpacks can be wiggling, putting an uneven weight on your dog and even put pressure on the neck. With this backpack we were never worried about any of those things, we went on a long backpacking trip in the woods and never had any problems with this pack.

There are 2 main compartments where you can store water, dog food, and other necessities. Above the main compartments, you also have two smaller pockets for treats, bags, leash, keys and more.

Overall we are very happy with this backpack and will be using it for a long time, mainly for longer hikes and backpacking journeys. If you are looking for the best dog harness with backpacks, then you have to try the Ruffwear Approach Backpack.

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OneTigris Tactical Service Dog Vest

Coming in at number 3 we have the tactical vest from OneTigris that comes in four different colors for you to choose from, black, coyote brown, grey, and ranger green.

When we were originally looking for the best dog harnesses to review in this article, we wanted some harnesses with additional functionality. This, as well as the Ruffwear Backpack above, were two products we immediately thought would meet our needs.

Make your dog look good, and add on some cool pouches for additional storage and you are good to go. This harness is perfect for outdoor activities in the woods, be it hunting, backpacking or just long walks in general.

Fit and Other Qualities

The fit of the OneTigris tactical vest is good, it comes with very long straps so you can upsize this harness quite a bit. Some prefer to cut the excess straps, but as our boxer is still growing we decided to keep them for now.

The materials used are heavy duty nylon for the outer shell, and a very soft interior padding for a lightweight, and water-resistant comfort. We don’t feel this vest gets very warm, which is also good, our dog seems to love this harness so far.

On both sides, there are plenty of possibilities to put your own decorations as you see fit, such as patches or badges.  This tactical vest dog harness can be equipped with a wide range of different types of tactical packs and other accessories to store treats, keys, and smaller necessities.

Overall a very cool looking harness that perhaps is more suited for hunters, outdoor activities in the woods or if you just like the tactical type of apparel.

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Hurtta Active Dog Harness

What we love most about the Hurtta Active harness is the fit, it comes with soft, highly adjustable straps around the shoulders and chest. If your dog is very active, this is a perfect harness for you.

The harness is padded and very comfortable, it has not given our Boxer any rubs or discomfort at all. It also doesn’t impact the movement, which is a great quality for active dogs.

Hurtta harnesses are designed in Finland, made using soft and comfortable nylon straps and neoprene. This harness is water resistant and very similar to the Ruffware Front Range model we have listed above.

Fit and Other Qualities

In our tests, we tried this harness on our eleven-month-old Boxer, and it was a perfect fit. The construction is very soft and gives more control without putting stress on the shoulders or throat.

We do, however, recommend that if your dog measures in between two sizes, you should go for the larger size of the two. Should your harness turn out to be just a bit too small there’s nothing you can do about it, while if you get the larger size you can always size it down to a good fit.

Super easy to put on and take off, the handle on top is easily reached and allows for more control during intense activity. This harness suits all kinds of dogs, small or big, lazy or highly active, there really isn’t a scenario I wouldn’t recommend this harness to anyone.

If you are looking for a reflective active harness, then you should go for the Hi-Viz Orange or Hi-Viz Yellow as they have great reflective qualities.

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2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness

The Freedom No-Pull harness from 2 Hounds is a training tool that allows you to communicate better with your dog and to improve your relationship.

During our testing we saw a lot of owners getting pulled by their dogs, so we offered them to try the freedom no pull harness.

Immediately the dogs responded differently, listening to their owners for ques and both the dogs and their owners enjoyed the walk a lot more.

Fit and Other Qualities

This harness has a great fit, with 4 points of adjustability and maximum comfort makes this harness perfect for small puppies as well as fully grown dogs of all breeds. The straps are made out of soft velvet lining that helps prevent rubbing and chafing sores.

Rings and adjustment points are made out of durable stainless steel, and the straps themselves are braided to withstand a total of 3800 lbs of pulling strength, which means literally that it is capable of towing cars.

The Freedom No-Pull harness comes in all different kinds of colors and sizes anywhere from XS to XXL, making the fit perfect for all sizes of dogs.

It is adviced that you use this harness together with the Freedom No-Pull leash, sold separately on Amazon, or any other double-ended leash for best results.

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Why Use a Dog Harness Instead of a Collar

Taste can be argued over. While there is a growing belief that collars are more beneficial because the dog pulls less, the band around the neck carries risks that you should not neglect.

A collar can exert pressure on the cervical spine, trachea, and larynx again and again. At times, this may even increase intraocular pressure and lead to glaucoma (cataract).

In addition, there is the hypothesis that aggressive behavior on the leash is triggered by the recurring pressure on the neck.

Advantages:

  • No pressure on the cervical spine, trachea or larynx
  • Pressure distribution on chest and back area
  • Suitable for cycling and also for buckling in the car

Especially in puppies and young dogs, it is not advised to wear a collar because the damage in the growth phase can be even more serious.

A puppy must first learn to walk on a leash. His curious nose leads him in all directions and he pulls strongly on the leash.

A well-fitting dog harness distributes pressure evenly across the chest and back.

So a harness that does not sit well can cause a lot of pain and bruises. At worst, it can even lead to a deformed spine, due to a poorly adjusted back.

Before you go buy a dog harness, you should measure your dog. The four most important size classification measures are neck circumference, chest circumference, back length, and thorax length.

If your dog’s size is exactly between two sizes specified by the manufacturer, then always choose the larger one. Also, take one size bigger if you own a long-haired dog.


Cheap vs Expensive Dog Harnesses

Harnesses are available in all price ranges – from the cheap harness, which costs only a few dollars, to the luxury harness, for which you have to dig deep into your pocket.

What affects the price most are the processed materials. This applies to all types of dog harnesses. Model forms differ only slightly in price.

For example, a simple nylon harness is available from as little as $5. However, the low-priced models are usually so cheap because they are too small and lack any sufficient padding.

mid-priced price segment at $10-$20, the designs and prints are more diverse, but the material usually remains unpadded nylon.

In the higher price range around $40, the nylon straps are padded through a chest and abdominal insert, which ensures good weight distribution and long-wearing comfort.

Price Differences and Quality of the Different Types of Harnesses

This applies for most types of harnesses, be it an H-harness or a Y-harness, don’t be cheap when it comes to the comfort of your dog.

A simple Norwegian harness made of nylon is available from about $10. Here, however, the padding (neoprene) is usually limited to the chest strap.

Nylon models from $20 and up are padded with fleece and provided with reflectors from the outside. These provide more security, especially during dark evening walks in autumn and winter.

A simple step-in harness with very narrow straps made of nylon or textile, which is suitable for very small dogs or puppies, is available from $5. This low price segment the harness is often of very poor quality.

Nylon models from $10 are available with wider straps of 0.4-0.6 inches. If you want a slightly more unusual print on the nylon belt, you’ll be happy with harnesses of this model from $15.

For harnesses from $20, the chest area is padded with soft fleece. With a soft variant of the step-in harness, you also have to expect to pay about $20 or more to get high quality.

Would you prefer a leather harness? Then you will have to pay about $50 and up.

With leather harnesses, the costs are again dependent on the respective leather, and cowhide is usually cheaper than nubuck leather.

Upwards the price for dog harnesses seem to have no limits, so you can count on extraordinary harnesses made of leather with studs or brass fittings sometimes even sell for $300 or more.


Different Dog Harnesses – Which Type of Dog Harness is Best

In general, one can distinguish between the 5 different common types of dog harnesses:

  • Harness (H-harness)
  • Y-harness
  • Norwegian harness
  • Saddle harness
  • Step-in harness

In each of these models, the design, fit and way in which the harness has to be put on are different. This brings with it individual advantages as well as disadvantages.

Accordingly, depending on the physique of the dog and requirements for the harness, one out of the five models may be best for your specific dog. We would like to help you in the following section to find out which dog harness is best for your dog and therefore also for you.

For this, we introduce you to all types of dog harnesses mentioned above. In addition, we explain to you, in each case their advantages and disadvantages.

H-Harness Pros and Cons

The biggest advantage of the H-harness is that it can be adjusted and is very flexible in size. This ensures that the harness can be perfectly adapted to your dog’s body and thus sits very well. These qualities are essential for sports activities.

This dog harness consists of a spine, to which two loops are attached. One of them leads around the neck and the other around the chest, or the trunk. The chest strap, a bridge on the ventral side, connects this neck and torso loop between the front legs with each other.

As a rule, the circumference of the neck and trunk loop can be adjusted continuously. This is a great advantage especially for young puppies and still growing dogs. The dishes grow practically to a certain extent.

Due to the fact that none of the straps is placed over the shoulder blades in this model, they are under no circumstances restricted during walking and running. This helps to prevent any damage or chafing your dog may be suffering from other models.

These features make the harness the perfect companion for the everyday walk or even sportier activities, such as jogging, cycling or trailing.

The H-harness is the most popular harness model. Its timeless appearance and its great advantages in the accuracy of fit make it a perennial favorite in dog shops. Nevertheless, of course, this model has its disadvantages, which you should consider before buying.

Pros

  • Very flexible, and adjustable
  • Good overall fit
  • No belt sits on the shoulder blades

Cons

  • The back bar can be too short

The high degree of adjustability is a curse and a blessing at the same time wasthis dog harness. Because it has to be set up properly or else you will have problems down the road. If you have never used a harness before, we suggest you either ask a friend who has experience or lookup good informative videos online.

In addition, you should make sure that everything really fits well. Despite all the adjustability, for example, the spine, which can not be adjusted, can be too short. This, in turn, can lead to damage to the spine of your four-legged friend.

You should also make sure that the webbing is wide enough. If this is not the case, it can press on the larynx and sternum when loaded, causing injury or consequential damage.

In this model, the dog has to slip his head through the front loop, as there is only an opening and closing clip on the hull loop. Not every dog is enthusiastic about this procedure. If this also applies to your dog, you are better advised with a Norwegian harness, a saddle harness or a step-in harness.

When buying a harness for your dog, make sure that it fits well. Above all, the shoulder blades of your four-legged companion should under no circumstances limit it. H and Y harnesses have the advantage that their straps do not touch this sensitive area.

Y-Harness Pros and Cons

The Y harness is a modification of the H-harness. The difference: the harness has no spine. In contrast to the harness, the neck and torso loop meet on the back. This is also where the ring is to which you attach the leash.

One of the biggest advantages of this harness is, as with the H-harness, that it can be adjusted in size and the shoulder blades are free. Thus, these cannot be disturbed in any form when moving through the straps.

However, what makes the Y-harness significantly different from the H-harness is that it sits even closer than the first one. A slip-off is therefore virtually impossible. Especially for dogs with low chest size, this harness is therefore highly recommended.

Y-harnesses are easy to put on by pulling over the head, passing the lower part between the forelegs and closing the buckles on the chest.

This dog harness has great advantages that set it apart from other harnesses. Nevertheless, of course, this model has its disadvantages, which we do not want to withhold from you.

Pros

  • Very flexible and adjustable in size.
  • Good fit, especially for dogs with a smaller chest.
  • Slipping out of the harness unintentionally is practically impossible.

Cons

  • May restrict the freedom of movement of the front legs.
  • Risk of chafing and consequential damage.

Since the Y-harness is very tight, a good fit is extremely important – even more important than with the H-harness.

Your dog can feel limited in this model very quickly when it comes to the freedom of movement of his front legs.

In addition, due to the tight fit, there is a risk of chafing that can develop into bald skin or, worse still, eczema.

Accordingly, it is particularly important in this model that you pay close attention when buying, that it fits perfectly on your dog.

You should also make sure that the webbing is wide enough. If this is not the case, it can press on the larynx and sternum when loaded, causing injury or consequential damage.

Norwegian Harness Pros and Cons

The biggest advantage of the Norwegian harness is that it is easy to put on and take off. Just pull it over the head, pull it around the trunk and close it – done! Accordingly, these harnesses are particularly suitable for more sensitive dogs who do not like to have to first put their head through the harness.

This harness consists of a horizontal chest strap and a trunk strap. This leads behind the front legs once around the rib cage. The trunk strap can be attached to both sides with the chest strap.

As the Norwegian harness does not have a stomach belt that passes between the forelegs, it is the right choice for sensitive dogs. Even dogs who feel quickly hemmed in will appreciate this harness rather than other models.

Especially practical is the large loop on the back, which is typical for the Norwegian harness, where you can grab the dog. This pays off especially for leash-less walks if you, for any reason have to grab a hold of the dog.

They look beautiful and have, as described above, quite great advantages. Nevertheless, you should also consider the drawbacks of this harness before you buy it.

Pros

  • No strap on the waist.
  • Do not narrow down.
  • Large loop on the back for you to hold on to.

Cons

  • Only a few options.
  • Hull strap sits over the shoulder blades.
  • Can restrict when walking and running.
  • Missing an abdominal belt can lead to scratches.

The Norwegian harness has only a few options. The torso belt can usually be adjusted. The circumference of the chest belt, however, can not be changed at all. This means that the harness has to fit perfectly on your dog.

The fact that the torso belt sits exactly over the shoulder blades, can limit your dog’s movement when walking and running. The harness must therefore really sit 100% correct to reduce the chance of scrubbing or even lasting damage.

Since chest and torso belt are not connected, as with other models, in addition by a chest strap, it can happen that your dog slips out of the harness. Accordingly, the Norwegian harness is unsuitable for anxious dogs, dogs with a strong hunting instinct or young impetuous dogs, because they can rid themselves extremely quickly by jerky movements.

Saddle Harness Pros and Cons

Just like the Norwegian harness, a saddle harness is great if you want it to be quick when putting on and taking off. Your dog does not like to slip his head through a harness loop? Then the saddle harness is an excellent choice.

This harness, like the Norwegian harness, consists of a horizontal chest strap and a torso strap. This leads behind the front legs once around the rib cage. The trunk strap can be attached to both sides with the chest strap. The difference is made by the saddle plates on the back.

Despite the benefits, you should also think about the disadvantages of the harness model before you buy it.

Pros

  • No strap for the waist.
  • Do not narrow down.
  • Large loop on the back.

Cons

  • Saddle plate can be uncomfortable.
  • Hull strap sits over the shoulder blades, can restrict movement when walking and running.
  • Missing an abdominal belt can lead to scratches.

The saddle or power harness has only a few adjustments. While the trunk strap can be adjusted, the chest strap is often not adjustable. This means that the harness has to fit 100% when buying. For dogs that are still in the growth phase, this point should be particularly weighed because the harness could not fit well enough.

Due to the fact that the torso belt, just like the Norwegian harness, sits exactly over the shoulder blades, they can restrict movement during walking and running. The size and fit of the harness must, therefore, be perfect to prevent scuffing or even permanent damage.

Step-in Harness Pros and Cons

A step-in harness is in contrast to the types of dog harnesses described above rather an exotic and quite rare to find. Nonetheless, if your dog does not like having to slip into a harness head first, it’s the right choice.

The biggest advantage of the step-in harness is that it does not have to be pulled over the head when putting on or taking off. Thus, it is the perfect harness for dogs that not only have a problem with their head to slip through a harness loop but also that the straps must be generally tightened from above.

This harness consists of two loops which are pulled up over the dog’s front legs like a pair of trousers and connected over the shoulders.

Especially practical is the fact that the harness can exert absolutely no pressure on the chest and neck area.

Pros

  • Does not have to be pulled over the head when putting on and taking off.
  • Does not put pressure on the chest and neck area.

Cons

  • Unsuitable for deep chest.
  • Can restrict freedom of movement.

The soft harness, a variant of the step-in harness, comes mostly (almost) completely without straps and consists of mesh material. This makes it excellent as for puppies. The fabric is fastened to the dog’s shoulders with a Velcro strap on which there is a clip for the rings to where the leash is attached.

The step-in harness is definitely the wrong choice if your dog has a deep rib cage. Then there is the danger that he can slip out of the harness. Generally, you should think twice about a big, heavy dog, if it really should be a step-in harness. The step-in harness is, therefore, more suitable for small, light four-legged friends.

Tightening the harness can be challenging. A small, light dog can be better positioned by lifting the front legs slightly when putting on the harness, as a larger dog brings more weight on the scales.

Even with rather fidgety contemporaries, getting dressed and undressing will be difficult. Another shortcoming of this harness is that even with a good fit it can quickly restrict the freedom of movement as the straps run behind the shoulders along the sensitive underarm regions.

Basic criteria for the collar:

  • Adjust loosely enough so that it can slide down the neck as much as possible
  • Firm enough that it can not be pulled over the ears
  • As wide as possible to avoid injury to the trachea, larynx
  • Ensure perfect workmanship: plug locks and latches of the highest quality!
  • A device for attaching an identification mark should be present.

How to Choose the Right Dog Harness

At this point, we’ll show you what factors to consider when buying a harness. This will make it easier for you to decide if a particular model is right for you and your dog or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Acceptance of the dog
  • Materials used (washing machine suitability)
  • Upholstery
  • Adjustability of the straps
  • Security

In the following paragraphs, you can read in each case, what it has with the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Acceptance of the dog

The most important purchase criteria should definitely be the acceptance of the harness carrier. This can usually be seen already in the first reaction of the dog, which shows up when first putting on the dog harness.

Do you have to force your dog in the harness or does he feel pressured? That will probably not change in the future and the unpleasant thing will be perceived as a foreign body.

However, if everything works without problems, nothing stands in the way of the purchase. Unless the harness is bothersome after putting on, if the dogs’ movement is restricted, for example.

Materials Used

Colorful nylon will come your way most often when buying a harness. Also polyester, denim or mesh are gladly processed. This outer material is often lined with neoprene or fleece, or padded, which is better wearing comfort.

Noble, in contrast, dog harnesses made of leather. However, these are much stronger and do not handle water as well as the nylon models.

There is no doubt about taste, but what makes a good material is that it nicely adapts to the dog’s body and feels soft. It should not scour under any circumstances. If you think of its applications, it is of course also advantageous if it is washable and dries quickly.

So in advance ask yourself what you expect from the appearance of the dishes. If it should be more textile, step-in and soft harnesses come into question. For outdoor activities, wipe-clean models made of nylon or water-repellent outer material are best.

Upholstery

Well-padded harness models are not only more robust and last longer, but also provide better pressure distribution. Thus, it does not come to painful pressure points.

Above all, the chest and shoulder area should be well padded, as it can cause permanent damage to these sensitive areas.

If good upholstery is an essential purchase criterion for you, you should take a closer look at the corresponding upholstered models presented.

Adjustability of the straps

Adjustability is essential for a perfect fit.

A flexible adjustable model is also very useful when the dog is shorn or its coat changes. In addition, a bit of winter bacon is not the same problem when the dishes can be easily adapted.

Especially in the fast-growing puppy or young dog is a model that offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of adjustability, absolutely necessary. Who wants to buy new dishes every few weeks?

Security

A not insignificant criterion is safety. With regard to safety, the various types of dog harnesses have considerable advantages and disadvantages. These, in turn, are individually dependent on the body shape of your dog.

With the Y-dog harness and also with the harness, it is unlikely that the dog can break free because of the two loops in a good fit.

For fear dogs, who break free from panic moments by jerky movements from other harnesses, an escape-proof harness (safety harness) is probably still the better solution. The extended back piece of this model has a third strap attached, which you close behind the chest. Since the dog’s waist is narrower than the chest, the dog can not slip out of this model under any circumstances.

Especially with the Norwegian harness, however, it can happen that the dog can easily get out if the harness is not 100% correct.

If the harness is not secured properly, your dog can get injured. If the harness is too loose, the straps can scour the skin. A slipped harness can hurt your dog.

For a Norwegian harness, it is therefore important to measure the dog very carefully before purchasing and pay close attention to the size specifications of the manufacturer.

In order to be well visible even when walking in the dark, harness with reflective stripes is recommended. The best option for the model of your choice is to have reflective elements on the back and chest area.


Best GoPro Dog Harness – How to Choose the Best Dog Harness for Action Cam

If you are looking for the best dog harness for mounting your GoPro or any other action camera, then the best alternative is the GoPro Fetch Dog Harness, the official GoPro harness for dogs.

See the world through your dog’s view, or why not send him off on an adventure and watch it in replay. There are many uses for mounting an action camera on your four-legged friend.

Check out this cool little video of a GoPro strapped on a dog, on a great adventure.

There are of course other alternatives, we feel, however, that the official GoPro dog harness is the right choice, as they offer great support and have amazing reviews for you to read through.

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Summary

To recap this article, we have touched on the 5 best dog harnesses and their pros and cons. Through our extensive testings, we found that Ruffwear creates some of the most impressing products on the market today. The Ruffwear Front Range Harness, coupled with their Front Range Leash is the clear winner in this list.

We also discussed the question so many new dog owners ask, why should you use a harness instead of a leash? There are a few simple reasons for this, namely:

  • A harness puts little to no pressure on the cervical spine, trachea, or larynx, depending on which model you choose to go with.
  • The pressure is distributed evenly on the chest and back area.
  • Harnesses are suitable for cycling and other means of transportation.
  • Some harnesses are made to buckle your dog in the car, for a safer ride.

If you enjoyed this article or learned something new, please don’t forget to share it with friends and family who may also benefit from this list.