First: Why We Use a Dog Harness For Our Doodle
I love our little bundle of fur, but walking her has become a chore. She is gets easily excited when outside. This translates into her pulling on her leash. Since we use a collar this is a concern, but the real problem is when she sees a squirrel. Her instinct is to chase the squirrel even though she can’t run freely.
The short chase usually ends with her jerking her neck when she reaches the end of the leash. So in order for her not to hurt herself, we decided to switch to a harness while working on leash training.
Problem solved, right? Well, as any doodle parent can tell you, doodles and poodles mat easily, especially when something rubs their fur, which can be an issue with harnesses. So to find the best dog harness for doodles, I asked Goldendoodle and Labradoodle parents which harnesses caused the least amount of matting.
Why Are Dog Collars Dangerous?
Before we go any further let’s take a closer look at why dog collars are dangerous. Imagine that while you are walking your dog, they lug out after a squirrel like my pup. With a collar when your dog reaches the end of the leash they are abruptly stopped. This stop causes your dog to be jerked back towards you. All that force from their running and the sudden stop is focused directly on a small section of their neck. Whether it is from chasing a squirrel or just pulling on their leash, the repeated stress on their neck can lead to long term medical issues. These issues can include: damaging the thyroid glands, the trachea, and the spinal cord.
Even for dogs that are well behaved on a leash there will still be times when you need to react quickly and pull your dog to safety. If you are using a collar the impact of pulling them can cause injury to your pup. Plus your dog can be choked or worst if the collar becomes caught on something. Many dogs have been hung by their collars getting caught on a tree limb or fence post.
What to Look for in a Dog Harness for Doodles
- Safety – Is the harness adjustable? The harness should fit snug so your dog cannot slip out of it, but not too tight to cause discomfort to your dog.
- Comfort – Is the harness designed to fit comfortable on the dog? Are the materials soft? You don’t want to pick a harness that will irritate your dog’s skin
- Durability – You want the harness to last. Is the material sturdy? Can a dog chew through the harness?
- Less friction points – The best dog harness for doodles will have less fictions points. This can be done by either reducing the amount of material that touches a doodle’s fur or by using silky materials in the areas that are in contact with the doodle’s fur
What Causes Matting In Doodles?
There are a number of reasons that doodles mat. Here are just a few reasons your doodle can mat:
- Doodles that have a curly or wavy coat are more likely to mat than straight coated doodles. This is due to the curly hair wrapping around other hairs. Over time this wrapping of hairs turns into mats.
- Friction will speed up the hair becoming tangled together. Friction can be caused by wearing something that rubs against their fur like a collar or harness. It is also be caused by scratching their favorite spot.
- Matting can occur when they shed. As the fur falls out it can become entangled with the curly hair. Even low shed doodles shed some hair.
- Moisture can cause fur to curl more. Wet fur as it dries will wrap around the other hairs. Again if nothing is done they will become matted.
How To Prevent Matting In a Doodle
The best way to prevent matting is to brush and line comb your pup every day. But not everyone has the time to groom their doodle daily. Another option is to keep your pups hair short, since short hair matts less than long hair. If you need to find a groomer, here are are some things you should know when picking a dog groomer.
It is also best to avoid activities that can speed up matting. This means you should avoid activities that allow your pup to get wet or expose them to unnecessary friction. This is where your choice of harness comes in. To avoid mats caused by friction you want to look for a harness that either has a small contact area or is smooth on the inside.
Friction is also caused by wearing a dog coat. If you have a hardier doodle breed with long hair, wearing a coat in the winter may not be needed. But doodles with short hair or breeds that are not meant for the cold may need to wear a coat for their daily walks during the winter. To help you decide if your dog needs a coat, check out our post on Does your dog need a sweater in the winter?
If you are looking for a dog coat with low friction to avoid matting, check out our review post on the Shedrow K9 Tundra Dog Coat
To find the best dog harness for doodles we asked other doodle parents which harnesses they use for their doodles.
Dog Harness Types
Before we get into the recommendations it is important to understand the different types of harness. Depending on the manufacturer, harnesses are either classified by how they are put on a dog or by where the leash attachment is.
Step In Harness
As the name implies your dog steps into the harness straps, which are then pulled up and closed with a top closure. It takes fewer steps to get a step in harness on so it is easier to use with dogs that will not stay still
Over Head Harness
The overhead harness is put on a dog by first slipping the harness over their head before closing the bottom clips. These types of harnesses require multiple steps to get the harness on a dog and may be more difficult with dogs that do not stay still.
Front Clip Harness
A front clip harness has the D-ring in front of the dog’s chest. Front clip harnesses were developed as a way to prevent pulling. The idea is that dog will be redirected towards you when they pull on the leash. The issue with the front clip harnesses is that it is easier for the dog to become tangled in the leash.
Back Clip Harness
With a back clip harness the leash is attached to the harness on the back of the dog. A back clip harness allows your dog the most freedom. Since the attachment is away from the ground there is less chance of your dog getting tangled in the leash. However it does little to prevent your dog from pulling.
Dual Clip Harness
As the name implies a dual clip harnesses gives you the option to attach the leash from your dog’s back or front depending on your needs at the time. It is the most versatile of the harness options.
The Best Dog Harness For Doodles
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Easy Walk Harness by Pet Safe
First on our list is the Easy Walk Dog Harness by Pet Safe. This harness was the most recommended dog harness for doodles by doodle owners. In addition to being an alternative to using a collar, the Easy Walk Harness is designed to stop “light to moderate pulling”. This is a plus for doodle parents since doodles tend to be large dogs. Based on all the positive reviews the harness seems to work.
Pet Safe Inc. offers two versions of their Easy Walk Harnesses; the Easy Walk Harness and the Deluxe Easy Walk Harness.
Easy Walk Harness
The Easy Walk Harness (pictured left) consists of three thin bands. One that goes under the body just behind the front legs, one that goes over the back and one that goes across the front of the chest. The three bands are attached to each other with rings. The leash attaches to a d-ring which is then attached to the front chest band via a martingale loop. The Easy Walk Harness can be found at Amazon.com
Deluxe Easy Walk Harness
The Deluxe Easy Walk Harness has the same design as the Easy Walk Harness, including the no-pull Martingale leash attachment. What makes it deluxe is the neoprene lined straps for added comfort. Also the manufacturer’s description state that is has “highly visible, reflective strips”, but per the manufacturer the reflective strips are actually reflective stitching. The Easy Walk Harness can be found at Amazon.com
What is a Martingale Loop?
The Easy Walk Harness Martingale Loop is a loop that is created by the front harness strap. The d-ring for the leash to be attached is centered in the middle of the loop. When the dog pulls, the tension from the leash pulls on the loop, which pulls the front straps tighter across the chest. The purpose of the loop is to get your dog’s attention when they pull. It also keeps the harness from twisting.
Pro and Cons – Easy Walk Harness
- Ease of use
- Reduces Pulling
- Less material means less areas of friction
- 8 Size choices
- 1 Year Chew Damage Policy
- Harder to put on in the beginning
- Can be chewed through
- Needs to be readjusted occasionally
Ease of Use
The main complaint about the Easy Walk Harness is that it is hard to put on at first. However is does become easier to put on once you get the hang of it.
As you can see by the picture to the left there are two body straps with snaps on the harness. One that goes over the back and one that goes under the body. The straps are different colors so you know which one goes where. All the straps on this harness are adjustable to ensure the proper fit.
Tip: The top harness strap is longer than the bottom one. If you have a deep chested dog try reversing the straps. It may provide for a better fit.
The Easy Walk Harness is designed to stop your dog from pulling. Although no harness can completely stop a dog from pulling users of the Easy Walk Harness report reduced pulling and overall improved walking experience.
The Easy Walk Harness comes in 8 sizes including three half sizes making it easier to find the correct size for your dog.
1 Year Chew Damage Replacement
Because the Pet Safe Easy Walk Harness has been known to be chewed through by some pups, the company has a 1-year chew damage replacement policy. They will replace the harness for a minimal fee.
Ruffwear Front Range Harness
The second most recommended dog harness for doodles by doodle owners is the Ruffwear Front Range Harness. This harness is designed for every day comfort. The top, bottom and chest areas are all padded. Plus there are four adjustment points so you can get a great fit. The Ruffwear Front Range Harness can be found at Amazon.com
Pro and Cons – Ruffwear Front Range Harness
- Dual Clip Harness
- Reduces pulling
- ID section to hold tags
- Padded chest and back
- Dog may slip out of harness
- Most expensive one in review
- Multiple steps to put on
Dual Clip Harness
The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a dual clip harness. There is a V-ring on the dog’s back and a reinforced webbed loop located in the front chest area. The front chest loop was designed to resist pulling and offer additional control.
The front loop reduces your dog’s pulling by redirecting them back to you. You can use this harness with both the front loop and back loop for training. However your pup could step on or be tripped by the leash when using the front loop. The main complaint about the front loop is that it is not metal. It is a combination of webbed material and a plastic coating.
Most dog harnesses does not have a convenient place to keep your pups tags, which means wearing a collar and a harness. However the Ruffwear Front Range Harness offers an ID pocket. The pocket keeps your dog’s tags from jingling, but still easily accessible.
The front shoulder straps and rear straps are adjustable. Helping you get the best fit for your dog. Here is a video by Ruffwear to show you how to adjust the harness to fit your dog.
The Ruffwear Front Range Harness only uses one measurement for their sizing.
Ruffwear offers a matching leash for their Front Range Harness. This can be found at Amazon.com
New Earth Soy Comfort Wrap Adjustable Harness
Last on our list of harnesses is the New Earth Soy Comfort Wrap Adjustable Harness by Costal Pet Inc. We use this harness with our Ratdoodle. Here is Bella showing off her harness. Too bad you can’t see it due to her long hair. She is also modeling the harness above in the Harness Yype section of this post.
We discovered the Comfort Wrap Harness at our local specialty pet supply store. The New Earth Costal Pet Comfort Wrap Harness is earth friendly as it’s made from a by-product of the soy food industry. The 100% natural soy fibers are strong and soft to the touch unlike typical nylon harnesses which can be rough. The New Earth Costal Pet Comfort Wrap Harness can found at Amazon.com
Pro and Cons of the New Earth Soy Comfort Wrap Harness
- Soft and comfortable
- Easy to get on
- Single closure
- Less material means less areas of friction
- Fully adjustable
- 7 color choices
- Made from Earth Friendly materials
- Does not reduce pulling
- Can be chewed through
- Needs to be readjusted occasionally
- Only 3 sizes
- Made in China
- Hard to find
Soft and Comfortable
The top reason to buy a New Earth Soy Comfort Wrap Harness is the material’s softness. It’s great for dogs with sensitive skin. The soft soy fibers won’t irritate like a nylon harness might. Each strap on the comfort wrap harness is adjustable, allowing for a better fit. Plus the front strap sits low across the dog’s chest so it won’t pull against their throat during walks.
Ease of Use
The New Earth Soy Comfort Wrap Harness is very easy to get on your dog. Just lay the harness on the floor and have them step in the straps. The single back closure makes getting it on your dog a snap.
The belly and chest straps are adjustable making it easier to find the right fit. But the limited sizes means that it will not fit all dogs.
As an added safety measure the Comfort Wrap Harness offers two D-rings on each side of the closure to ensure the clasp does not open.
I am always looking for healthy options for my pup, so I like that it’s made from earth friendly materials and dyes. However, I am disappointed they are not made in the USA. I feel that many of the earth friendly benefits disappear when you consider it needs to be shipped across the ocean.
New Earth Soy collection also offers a 6′ matching leash to go with the Comfort Wrap Dog Harness. The matching leash an be found at Amazon.com
How to Choose the Right Size Dog Harness for Doodles
No harness will be able to fit every dog. Just like people dogs come in all different shapes and sizes. You may need to try a few harnesses before your find the right fit for your dog.
Because every harness uses different points to measure make sure to use the manufacture’s website to find the measuring instructions and size chart.
Tip: Take the measurements while your dog is standing rather than sitting. If they are sitting the measurements may be off.
How to Check for Proper fit
The harness should fit snuggly against your doodle’s fur, but you should still be able to place two fingers between the strap and the dog. Check all straps on the harness to see if they fit properly.
In addition to checking the straps, look at the overall fit of the harness. You should not see gaps nor should there be pulling. If you see the skin bunched up that is an indication that the harness is too tight. When you walk with your dog there should be minimal movement in the harness. Also look for irritation spots and indentations when you take off the harness.
Lastly, check to see if you can pull the harness off by pulling on the front straps. Some dogs are able to slip out of front clip harness by pulling backwards from the leash attachment. You should not be able to slip it off nor should you see a lot of movement.
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