- A good no-pull harness can reduce your dog's leash pulling without causing them pain or discomfort.
- A professional dog trainer teamed up with shelter workers to test nine popular no-pull dog harnesses.
- The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is the best option to prevent pulling without causing discomfort or restricting range of motion.
- This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas. The purpose of this medical review is to ensure accuracy and does not imply any product endorsements or recommendations.
Being pulled down the street can turn a relaxing dog walk into a frustrating battle. As a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, more than half of my clients ask for help training their dog to walk nicely on a leash. I typically recommend that dog owners purchase a quality front-clip no-pull harness to assist them in training their dog how to walk on leash without pulling.
For this guide, I partnered with five shelter workers and volunteers at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco to test nine of the most popular no-pull harnesses. Harnesses were tested on walks with more than two dozen medium and large untrained rescue dogs. I also interviewed professional dog walkers and trainers about their favorite harnesses. With each harness, we evaluated how well it prevents pulling, whether it causes discomfort or impedes a dog's movement, overall fit, adjustability, durability, and washability. Read more about our testing methodology at the end of this guide.
Why you should walk your dog with a harness
Dog harnesses are more than just a training tool to discourage pulling. Even if your dog doesn't pull, a harness is safer than walking with a leash attached to a collar. Traditional neck collars should never be used for restraining or controlling your dog, as they can cause tension and stress on the dog's neck. In a 2020 study using canine neck models with pressure sensors, Anne Carter, PhD, a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that all types of dog collars have the potential to cause harm to a dog's neck. A flat neck collar's only purpose is for attaching your dog's ID tags or for decoration.
It's important to remember that front-clip, no-pull harnesses are not a magical quick fix. They are, however, an excellent management tool that makes it easier to train a dog to walk nicely on leash.
Here are the best no-pull dog harnesses you can buy
- Best no-pull harness overall: Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness
- Best versatile no-pull harness: 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness
- Best affordable no-pull harness: Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness
- Best no-pull harness for extended wear: Ruffwear Front Range Dog Harness
The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness significantly reduces pulling without impeding a dog's movement, sagging, or twisting.
Pros: Deters pulling better than other harnesses, six points of adjustment for appropriate fit, good for dogs that dislike putting their head through a harness, machine washable, 90-day chew replacement policy
Cons: More expensive than most other harnesses, no padding, can be confusing to put on at first
The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is a favorite among dog trainers and dog walkers alike. We were impressed by how much easier it was to walk our untrained shelter dogs when they were wearing this harness. The dogs pulled less and were easier to control.
When used with a leash attached to the front D-ring, this harness offers superior control for dogs that pull. Its Y-neck design does not cross the dog's shoulders or pinch under the armpits, offering a level of comfort not found with other harnesses. Like all the harnesses in this guide, the leash can be attached to either the chest D-ring to reduce pulling or to the back of the harness for dogs that don't pull.
If you've had trouble finding a harness that fits, this is an excellent option. There are six different points that can be adjusted for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The harness has a band that clips around the torso and another band that clips around the neck. While the neck band is ideal for dogs that resist putting their head through a harness, this design can make it confusing to put the harness on until you get the hang of it. The colored top strap on the back will help you keep straight what goes where.
Robyn Socarro, a professional dog trainer at Beyond the Biscuit in Bentonville, Arkansas, swears by the Balance Harness. "It is great for daily performance, and it doesn't interfere with the dog's shoulder movement," she said. "I do a lot of swimming and water activities with my dogs, and this harness doesn't need to be removed when using a doggie life jacket, and it dries quickly without irritating the skin."
"The Blue-9 Balance Harness is my go-to recommendation for my clients," said professional dog walker Clare Hart-Slattery, based in Oakland, California. "It has a higher level of adjustability than other no-pull harnesses, which helps eliminate loose spots that may encourage pulling or irritate the skin."
The Balance Harness has a minimalist design that includes unpadded nylon straps and comes in eight different colors and five sizes. I toss mine into the washer and let it air-dry, with no damaging effects.
Although the soft nylon has a 3,500-pound test strength, if your dog chews this harness, Blue-9 offers a 90-day replacement for half price — just pay shipping to mail in the damaged harness. Because of its design, however, most dogs cannot reach the straps with their mouths and I've never had a dog chew through one.The best no-pull harness for versatility
With front and back clips and a double-connection leash, the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness is versatile enough to use with any dog, even serious pullers.
Pros: Works well for serious pullers, straps do not loosen or sag, velvet-lined straps prevent chafing, machine washable, available in 7 sizes and 23 different colors and designs, double-connection leash included
Cons: Can be confusing to put on, straps are difficult to adjust
The 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness has something of a cult following among dog trainers. With both a front and back D-ring, it's comfortable for walking dogs who are pullers and those who are not. Diane Livoti Perlman, owner of Metro Dog day care and boarding in Richmond, California, recommends this harness to all of her clients.
Users are frequently amazed at how quickly the Freedom harness reduces tension on the leash for dogs that pull, especially when paired with the included double-connection leash. By connecting the leash to the D-rings at the chest and back, the harness evenly distributes pressure, preventing a dog from feeling discomfort at a single point on their body and providing more control than most other harnesses. The martingale strap at the back tightens in response to pulling to help prevent a dog from squirming out of the harness and escaping.
Several of our testers found it tricky to put the harness on the first few times because the straps are fitted tightly in the stainless steel hardware. However, once the four points were properly adjusted, they got the hang of it. The straps stay secure and don't loosen up like some harnesses. There is also a buckle at the neck, so it doesn't need to be pulled over the dog's head. The velvet lining on the strap behind the legs is a nice touch for sensitive-skinned dogs.
2 Hounds has put a lot of thought and care into their product. Available in seven different sizes, the Freedom Harness works well for dogs of all sizes and shapes and is the only one in this guide that offers two different widths: 5/8-inch wide straps for smaller dogs and 1-inch straps for larger dogs. One of my clients could not find a harness that fit her low and wide Corgi-Labrador mix until she tried the 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness. It comes in 23 different colors and patterns.
This harness can be machine-washed on delicate cycle and air-dried. I accidentally put it in the dryer, and it came out fine. 2 Hounds will also replace a chewed harness for $12.99 with free shipping.The best affordable no-pull harness
The Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a durable, no-pull harness that won't break the bank.
Pros: Five points of adjustment for good fit, reflective stitching, some padding
Cons: Limited color options, heavy plastic buckles may be uncomfortable
With both a front and a back D-ring, the Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a solid choice. Attach the leash to the front of the harness to reduce pulling or secure it to the back ring for casual walks or running with your dog.
Beth DiMeccio walks shelter dogs most weekdays at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco and tested this harness on several untrained shelter dogs that were difficult to walk. She was impressed with how well it worked for serious pullers. "There's little chance a dog can wriggle out of this harness, which is a big concern with shelter dogs," she said.
This Y-shaped nylon harness does not restrict a dog's movement, unlike Petsafe's other popular no-pull harness, the Easy Walk, which has a horizontal chest strap that sits too low on some dogs. The 3-in-1's five different adjustment points allow for a comfortable and snug fit, and with a buckle at the neck, it doesn't need to be pulled over a dog's head. It's also easy to put on and take off after a few tries, but the tiny tags on the straps labeled "shoulder," "girth," and "center chest" are only slightly helpful. The light neoprene padding and reflective stitching are a nice touch.
With 1-inch wide straps, this harness is heavier than similar styles, creating too much bulk for smaller dogs. Although the wider straps mean less chafing, there is no padding to cover any of the large plastic clasps. Your dog may have some discomfort if they wear the harness all day.
The harness comes in four different sizes. Unfortunately, the color choices are limited to black, plum, and teal. It also comes with a built-in adjustable car control strap, which attaches to a car's seat belt. Neither the strap nor the harness are crash-tested, but when used together they will keep your dog restrained in the backseat while you are driving. Petsafe recommends only hand-washing the 3-in-1, which can make it difficult to get out the dog stink that most harnesses collect.
Petsafe offers two sweet guarantees: If your dog chews their harness, the company will ship a replacement for $14.90 (no need to send the damaged harness back). Bought the wrong-size harness? Petsafe has a Perfect Fit Guarantee: They'll send a new harness free of charge, with a suggestion to donate the first harness to a local shelter.The best no-pull harness for extended wear
The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a comfortable harness for active dogs and will hold up to years of use.
Pros: Padded, wide straps that won't chafe, can be worn all day, comes in 13 different colors and 5 sizes, easy to put on and take off, durable
Cons: Chest piece twists and gaps with serious pullers, not quick-drying
Designed for outdoor adventures, the Ruffwear Front Range Harness can take a lot of punishment while keeping your dog comfortable. The foam padding on the chest and belly prevents rubbing and chafing, and the built-in clasps are covered with fabric so they don't touch any part of a dog's body.
With only two clasps and two adjustment buckles, the harness is easy to put on and remove. It has two leash attachments: an aluminum V-ring on the back and a reinforced webbing attachment on the chest plate.
The Front Range doesn't reduce pulling as well as the other harnesses we recommend. Although it is normal for a front-clip harness to move when your dog pulls, the Front Range has more twist than our other top picks, causing it to shift to the side with consistent pulling.
But, if your dog tears through bushes or plays rough with other dogs, this harness is a durable option. After seven years, the Front Range is the only intact harness my dog still wears from his younger days. The polyester shell fabric is durable and doesn't fade over time, and the reflective stitching is a bonus for nighttime dog walking. The harness is available in 5 sizes and comes in 13 different colors to match every possible preference because, of course, your dog needs a hibiscus pink harness.
San Francisco-based professional dog trainer and dog sport enthusiast Scarlett Cermak, owner of Embark Today, loves the size range and color options as well as its comfort and versatility. "The padding is nice because it doesn't rub on my thin-coated dog," she said. "I also really like that there is a back-clip option because there are times, believe it or not, when I want my dogs to pull, like in sports like canicross or joring."
Hand-washing is advised, but I've had to put my dog's harness in the washer and dryer many times. It's held up, but the edges are now slightly curled. The chest vest can take a while to dry, so it may stay damp for a while after washing or if your dog swims in it.
Ruffwear's warranty covers manufacturing defects, but there is no chew replacement policy. In my experience, only the most acrobatic chewers can reach the straps with their teeth.How we tested
We considered the most popular harnesses on the market and solicited opinions from professional dog walkers and dog trainers who were already using the brands under consideration.
Three shelter staff and two volunteer shelter walkers then tested the harnesses on walks with more than two dozen rescue dogs at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco over a period of eight weeks. The dogs were all medium and large-size (over 50 pounds) and chosen because they were known to be difficult to walk due to overexcitability, lack of training, or reactivity. Dogs were walked with the tester harnesses for 30 to 60 minutes on city streets and in local parks.
Unmanageable leash pulling is typically a problem for dog owners with larger dogs, so we did not test these harnesses on dogs under 25 pounds. Many small dogs strain while on leash, but owners do not struggle with being pulled off their feet.
We also did not test head halters, as most dogs initially find them uncomfortable and will resist wearing them. The no-pull harnesses in this guide are a better choice for anyone looking for the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) approach to dog training and behavior modification. If you'd like to learn more about head halters, read about them in our guide to the best dog harnesses.
We rated each harness according to the following criteria:
- Prevents pulling: We assessed how well it prevented dogs from pulling on leash while walking. Dogs were walked for a minimum of 30 minutes on 4-foot leashes.
- Does not impede or restrict movement: Harnesses were tested on dogs of different sizes and shapes to check for sagging and straps that lay over the dog's front legs and shoulders.
- Does not chafe or rub: We tested harnesses on both long- and short-haired dogs to check for chafing or rubbing.
- Dog cannot slip or back out of the harness: Because these harnesses were tested on shelter dogs who tend to be flight risks, this was a crucial consideration.
- Easy to put on and take off/ease of adjusting: Putting on or adjusting your dog's harness shouldn't be frustrating. Our shelter volunteers and testers were asked to record their impressions when first putting the tester harnesses on dogs.
- Durability and washability: We asked professional dog walkers for their opinions on how well these wear over time and whether they hold up after multiple washes.
- Initial cost and replacement cost: We considered whether the price of the harness is justified and how easy it is to replace if chewed.
- Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness: This is an affordable harness with a padded chest plate and both front and back leash attachments. It's a solid choice as an everyday walking harness for larger dogs that pull moderately.
- Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness: This is a somewhat effective no-pull harness, with a vest-shaped design similar to the Ruffwear Front Range. Unless your dog is barrel-chested, the front of the harness twists to the side whenever the dog pulls. The straps also require constant tightening as they loosen too easily.
- Petsafe Easy Walk: This popular front-clip harness is inexpensive and easy to put on and adjust. The front chest strap, however, tends to sag more than any other harness we tested, causing it to hang across the dog's front legs and impede movement. With no padding and thin straps, the Easy Walk may also rub and create abrasions. The buckle ends up under the armpit on many dogs, which can be uncomfortable.
- Wonder Walker Body Harness: This is a sturdy front-clip harness that works well to prevent pulling. Unfortunately, the horizontal chest strap tends to sag significantly and ends up laying across the dog's shoulders or front legs.
- Bolux Dog Harness: One of the most inexpensive harnesses available, this harness does nothing to prevent your dog from pulling, as it only has one leash attachment on the back. Squirmy dogs can easily back out of this harness and escape.
Finding the right harness for your dog is like choosing the perfect running sneakers. The right fit is crucial. There's nothing scarier than your dog wriggling or backing out of a loose-fitting harness. An ill-fitting harness will also be uncomfortable, and if it's too tight, it can cause chafing. Sagging harnesses can impede a dog's full range of shoulder or leg movement.
A well-fitting harness should be snug but not too tight, with enough room to fit two to three fingers under all the straps. Check the sizing charts and read the instructions on how to measure your dog. When buying online, measure carefully and check the return policy before ordering. If you have a puppy, prepare to purchase more than one harness as they grow.
Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, so what fits well for one dog may not work for another. You may have to try a few different harness styles if your dog has an atypical body shape.Why do dogs pull on leash and how can you stop it?
No dog is born innately understanding how to walk on a leash. Most dogs will pull unless loose leash walking is taught and reinforced.
Dogs pull because they naturally walk faster than we do and because they want to get to the park or greet another dog or sniff something interesting. They pull because they've never been taught not to pull. Dogs also strain on the leash because it works for them: They pull, and they get to move forward. Tension at the end of the leash is a learned behavior.
The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to train loose leash walking using positive reinforcement. If your dog is a veteran puller, there is no humane piece of equipment that you can just put on them to instantly stop the pulling. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that neck collars do not prevent pulling and put too much pressure on the dog's neck.
Although front-clip no-pull harnesses are not a magic bullet that will instantly stop your dog from pulling, they are a management tool. A good harness will help you manage and control your dog while teaching them leash manners.
Although we tested these no-pull harnesses on medium and large dogs, pulling on leash can be a problem for dogs of any size. While some handlers may tolerate leash pulling with a small dog, a no-pull harness is just as helpful for them.How do front-clip no-pull harnesses work?
Front-clip harnesses are designed to discourage forward pulling by pivoting the dog toward you whenever the leash is taut. There's no magic — that's it. This spinning toward you provides a training opportunity while your dog focuses on you. If you keep walking whenever your dog pulls, you are not only missing out on the chance to train loose leash walking, but you are also reinforcing pulling.
Not all front-clip harnesses are created equal. Harnesses come in two basic designs: A Y-shaped chest strap or a strap that lays horizontally across the chest. Y-shaped harnesses better allow for full freedom of movement.
"Any product that forms a Y shape around the dog's neck and under the chest is non-restrictive," said Chris Zink, DVM, a canine sports medicine consultant and researcher at Johns Hopkins University.
The best no-pull harnesses have both back- and front-clip rings, and some brands now sell cleverly designed leashes that clip to both rings simultaneously, giving the handler better control and balancing leash tension across the body instead of at a single location.
Leashes that attach to the back of a dog's harness are a safe and comfortable option for dogs that don't strain on the leash. Back-clip harnesses are also useful for attaching a dragline when teaching recall ("come").Why we don't recommend prong, choke, and e-collars
We only considered no-pull equipment that does not cause pain or discomfort for a dog. Prong, choke, and shock collars are all designed to punish a dog by inflicting pain around the neck whenever they pull. Prong collars and choke chains can also cause damage to a dog's neck.
"As a general rule, I don't like anything that puts too much pressure on the neck," said Siracusa. "Definitely no prong or shock collars. Even a martingale-type collar, which I do like, will not prevent the dog from pulling [and] will apply pressure on the neck."
Punishment and pain create fear, stress, and anxiety in dogs also have no place in modern dog training. Studies show that e-collars (shock collars) produce behavioral and physiological signs of stress when used on pet dogs. As of October 2020, Petco, the second largest retail pet company in the United States, discontinued the sale of all shock collars online and in stores. Shock collars are banned and illegal in many countries, including England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. To train your dog more humanely, effectively, and successfully, use science-based positive reinforcement and rewards-based training and handling methods.No harness is chew-proof
There is no such thing as a chew-proof harness. A chewed-up harness is not a manufacturer defect or the fault of a poor design. It takes less than 30 seconds for a determined dog or teething puppy to destroy a brand-new harness, so take it off them when unsupervised. Be sure to also remove harnesses to prevent injury when dogs rough house, as teeth and limbs can get entangled.
If your dog is a veteran harness destroyer, check the manufacturer's chew guarantees before purchasing. We were pleasantly surprised by how generous some of the replacement policies are.Who we consulted
Anne Carter, PhD, is a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University.
Chris Zink, DVM, is a board-certified specialist in veterinary pathology and veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. Chris is one of the world's top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians and researchers. She is a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Carlo Siracusa, DVM, is the director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.