Properly Fitting a Harness

Not all harnesses fit the same way; here’s what you need to know.


A harness can be a valuable and effective tool if it’s used and fitted correctly. Do you know how to ensure your dog’s harness is properly fitted to his body? Keep reading to learn why properly fitting a harness is critical for your dog.

One Size (or 3 or 4) Does NOT Fit All

Many harnesses found online (and even in some pet stores), only offer three to four sizes to fit “all” dogs. With over 189 AKC-recognized dog breeds (not to mention mixed or unrecognized breeds), the odds of just a few sizes properly fitting all dogs is next to nil.

Poor Sizing Has Side Effects

Why is proper sizing so important? An ill-fitting harness can be uncomfortable and even painful. Any discomfort from a poorly-fitted harness will distract your dog’s attention and instead be focused on either backing out of the harness or trying to escape the discomfort in some other way.

What signs indicate a poorly fitted harness?

  • Rubbing or chafing around the harness area (especially in sensitive areas like the armpit, chest or stomach).
  • Lost fur around the harness area.
  • The dog is rubbing against you or the ground in an attempt to dislodge the harness.
  • The dog is able to wriggle out of the harness.
  • The dog refuses or resists walking in the harness.
  • The back of the harness moving from side-to-side.

The fit of harness is vital for the harness to work correctly and ensure the comfort of your dog.

How to Determine a Good Fit


Typically, most commercial harnesses are based on a dog’s weight.

While this may seem like a reasonable idea, consider the body shape of a labrador against that of a greyhound. The weight may be the same, but muscle mass, chest  and waist size and waist size and overall body shape will ultimately determine if the harness fits properly. If the points of adjustment are not adequate, the harness will not fit properly in some area and lead to issues. Step-in harnesses are usually limited in adjustment options, so you may want to look into an over-the-head harness which offers four or five points of adjustment.


Taking your time to both research and properly fit your dog’s harness is time well-spent in both control and your dog’s ultimate comfort.


Click here to learn more about the ergonomic BrilliantK9 Dog Harness (featuring 20 fully adjustable sizes from Teacup to Giant) that can be properly fit to your dog no matter their size or shape!

Resources and Additional Reading

“How to Fit a Dog Harness.”

“How to Properly Put on a Dog Harness.”

“How to Fit a Dog Harness – Expert Advice.”