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- If you struggle with leash-pulling, the Balance Harness can transform walks with your dog from stressful to relaxed.
- The harness fits snugly, which minimizes the problematic chafing and pulling that can occur with other no-pull harnesses.
- It comes in eight colors, five sizes, and is easy to adjust and put on.
- Dog trainers and owners, alike, have found the Balance so effective for leash-pulling that we named it the top pick in our guide to the best no-pull dog harnesses.
- For dogs that don't pull on the leash, check out the best dog harnesses for dogs of all sizes or with different needs.
Bowie was strong. Just past puppyhood and already 60 pounds, he had the curiosity and hyperactivity of an adolescent in the body of an adult German shepherd. The old joke "Who's walking who?" was written for Bowie. Walks were miserable his owners told me on the phone when they called to inquire about private dog training. He pulled, he darted, he lunged; one of them had already hurt their elbow trying to walk him.
I had only one question for them: What type of harness are you using?
Pulling on leash is one of the biggest training struggles many people will go through with their dogs. There are plenty of science-based training techniques to teach a dog to walk nicely on leash, but those take time to work. For a faster solution, you need the right equipment. And thanks to a variety of no-pull harnesses now on the market, you never have to subject your dog to the dangers of prong or choke collars.
But not every no-pull dog harness is created equal. My favorite, the Balance Harness from Blue-9 Pet Products, not only fits well and is easy to use, but it can also make a big difference in the quality of your walks.
How the Balance Harness works for dogs that pull on the leash
I came prepared to meet Bowie with the Balance Harness. Dog trainers like myself seem to almost universally favor this nylon harness in large part due to the vast improvements in fit it has over older no-pull harnesses. Products like the Sense-ation Harness or the Easy Walk, which clip to the leash at the front of the chest, often hang too low, impeding a dog's full range of motion. Depending on a dog's body shape, the design of these harnesses can potentially result in chafing under the armpits and stress on muscles and tendons in the forelimbs.
The Balance Harness, though, fits snugly, with a band that clips around the neck, a band that clips around the chest, and two straps that hold both in place, one under the chest and one along the spine. Contrasting colors make putting it on correctly every time a cinch, and there are six different places on the harness to make adjustments for wide necks, barrel chests, and chunky bellies. The website has a handy fit chart for choosing which of the five sizes will work best for your pup.
The magic that stops dogs from pulling while wearing this harness is in the sturdy D-ring where the leash clips at the front of the chest (there is a second D-ring at the spine to use with dogs that do not pull or to use with a double-ended training leash that clips to both rings).
I slipped Bowie's new bright orange harness over his head - the Balance comes in eight colors including a camo print - and adjusted each strap tight enough to allow only two fingers to fit between the harness and Bowie's body. I clipped the leash to his chest, and we headed out for a walk.
Bowie's owners quickly saw how the harness worked. With his previous harness, the leash connected at Bowie's spine. When he got moving, he just dragged them along like a Husky pulling a sled. Now when Bowie tried to pull ahead, the tension of the leash in front of his body caused him to turn. In order to keep walking straight, he had to slow down. The harness stayed in place as we walked and didn't appear to impede the movement of his front legs.
Just like that, problem solved. Bowie's walks immediately went from stressful to relaxed.
What can't this no-pull harness do?
The Balance Harness isn't perfect. It's a management tool, but it's not actually teaching your dog how to walk nicely on leash. Unless you do some walking training with your dog, you'll have to continue to use the harness to prevent them from pulling.
While the harness worked for Bowie, it, unfortunately, isn't magical for every dog. For the smallest of pups, it is a lot of material, and the straps are more likely to ride up under the armpits and around the neck. The majority of people who try this harness with their dog will find it extremely helpful, but there will always be some dogs for whom it doesn't have much of an impact.
If your dog's walking skills don't get a boost from the Balance, consider a head halter like the PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar (also included in our guide to the best no-pull harnesses) and/or upping your loose-leash walking training.
The bottom line
If you don't have a dog that pulls on leash, the Balance Harness is attractive, easy to use, and comes in a number of colors and sizes for a somewhat pricey $49.95. If you do have a dog that pulls on the leash, it's worth its weight in gold by transforming your walks from stressful to relaxed without the fit problems inherent to some other no-pull harnesses.
Pros: Available in five sizes and eight colors, accommodates double-ended leash, sturdy hardware, easy to put on correctly, fits well on a wide variety of body shapes and sizes
Cons: On very small dogs, the harness may ride up under the armpits and around the neck