Four-legged best friends make excellent companions on the trail. Ideally, you would have your dog hike unrestrained but the wild presents temptations that might get them excitable and dashing off into danger. And there are all kinds of hazards such as dicy terrain. To keep your furry friend safe in the great outdoors, you should have him or her leashed.
A harness is the next best thing to letting them hike off the leash. It will ensure a wonderful experience on the trail for both of you. Your dog will enjoy the freedom of movement, comfort and lack of constricting pressure on their neck (especially if they tend to pull). And you will find it effortless and pleasant to control your pet and keep them safe without hurting them.
Our goal here is to make it easy to find the best hiking harness for your dog. Below, we’ve reviewed ten best hiking harnesses that are comfortable, sturdy, durable, and loved by both canine hikers and their owners. Following the reviews is a guide on what to consider in order to make the right choice of harness for your companion on the trail.
How To Choose A Dog Harness For Hiking – Buying Guide
As you evaluate the various hiking dog harnesses on the market, the most important factors to consider so you can choose the best dog harness for hiking depending on the size and temperament of your dog are the following:
You want a hiking restraint that is ergonomically designed to be comfortable and allow freedom of movement. You also want a design that suits your dog and meets your preferences. To ensure that the harness you order meets these requirements, check that the straps are comfortable and easily adjustable. Padding on the back, chest, and straps add comfort. Do you prefer a harness with pockets? Check that they’re well placed. Pay attention to the attachment options so you can choose a style that suits your dog.
One of the advantages harnesses have over collars is comfort. However, too small a harness will be so tight that it digs into the dog’s body causing pain and discomfort and making it difficult for your dog to breathe. Too loose a harness leads to chafing and your pooch can easily wiggle out.
A harness has to fit just right for it to be comfortable and functional. So how can you tell that a harness is a good fit for your canine hiking companion? Before you go shopping, take your dog’s measurements (as explained next) so you can pick the right size for your dog. An adjustable harness gives you better control over the fit so you can achieve a more secure and comfortable fit.
Once you get the harness you ordered, put it on your dog to see how it fits. It should be balanced, secure and snug but a little loose – there should be room to comfortably fit two fingers between the harness and your dog. There should also be an adequate allowance for the legs.
Hiking dog harnesses come in many sizes just as there are many dog sizes. You will need your dog’s exact measurements in order to determine what size will be a perfect fit for him or her.
Using a tape measure, measure around the widest part of your dog’s rib cage. This is the girth measurement. The back length is the measurement from the base of the neck to about the base of the tail. Finally, obtain the neck girth measurement, which is the circumference of the dog’s neck where a collar sits.
When ordering, compare these measurements with each item’s size chart. Don’t forget to take into consideration any unique features your dog has such as wide shoulders.
Hiking is rigorous and the trail is tough. A harness material that is heavy duty is a must. It should be soft and comfortable yet strong and able to withstand outdoor conditions. The climate and conditions in which you hike will dictate what material is best.
For hiking in the summer, a lightweight and breathable fabric such as mesh is best. In wet conditions, you will need a harness made using a water repellant and quick drying or waterproof material. On muddy or dusty trails, you need a harness that doesn’t get dirty readily or one that is easy to wash.
Where do you prefer to attach the hiking dog leash and what will work best for your dog on the trail? When using a harness, you can attach the leash on the dog’s chest or back, or both. Front-attaching hiking harnesses are the best dog hiking harnesses for dogs that pull as they discourage pulling. They also offer more control for large, strong and aggressive breeds.
A back attachment gives calm or well-trained dogs more freedom and independence close to an off-leash experience and is also more comfortable for small breeds. Clip a puller on the back and you will make their urge to pull even worse. Harnesses with both front and back attachments offer the best of both options.
To ensure you make a solid investment, durability should be at the top of your mind as you shop. The outdoors is tough and dogs are rough on gear – they like to roll and rub against things. A hiking harness will be subjected to heavier wear and tear and its design and construction should be sturdy and heavy duty.
The material should be strong and rugged. The stitching, straps, and buckles should be high-quality. The leash attachment clips should be strong enough to endure the constant pulling tension without breaking.
There are other great features the best hiking harnesses will have. A locking mechanism ensures your dog is securely contained. A reflective element keeps your dog visible when hiking at night. A harness with pockets for gear storage is great when you want to teach your dog to work or want to tire them out and slow them down. A dog harness with handle/loop on top is convenient, as it enables you to lift your dog and assist him or her over obstacles.
Ease Of Mobility
The harness should restrain your dog without limiting its freedom of movement. With a good harness for hiking on, your dog should be able to walk, run and even jump freely. It should be lightweight and snug but not too tight. If you prefer a dog harness with pockets for your dog to carry some of his dog hiking gear, ensure they are well designed so that the weight will be evenly distributed.
Based on where the attachment clip for the hiking dog leash is located, there are front clip, back clip, and dual clip harnesses. The most popular is the back clip harness. It is easy to put on and adjust, easy on the neck, and comfortable for dogs to wear. It is best for small dogs and calm dogs that don’t pull.
A front-clip harness where the leash attachment point is on the dog’s chest discourages pulling and is the best harness for a dog that pulls. A dual-clip harness has both a back and front attachment.
Based on the fitting style, there are over-the-head and step-in dog harnesses. An over-the-head dog harness is easy to put on – just slip it over the head, adjust the straps and clip it closed. A step- in harness requires the dog’s legs go in first then it is pulled and fastened. It can be a hassle to put on unless the dog is patient.
Q: Why Do I Need A Hiking Dog Harness?
Q: Why Does My Dog Need To Be Leashed?
Q: What Is The Difference Between A Regular Harness And A Hiking One?
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Though you will fork out more for a great hiking harness the than you would a collar, it is definitely worth it. With a harness, hiking with your four-legged best friend will be easier, safer, and much more fun. You will be able to keep your dog safe without exerting too much effort or hurting him or her. And your dog will be able to enjoy the hikes, as a harness is the closest thing to an off-leash experience. Be sure to measure your dog carefully and consider their temperament in order to get the best hiking harness for them.
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How about you? Which of the harnesses on our dog harness for hiking reviews is your favorite? Have some tips on how to have a great experience when hiking with dogs? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below!