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Big Dogs, Bigger Adventures: Harnesses for Large and Energetic Breeds

By Canada Pooch on Sep 25, 2023

It's exciting to explore the great outdoors with our canine friends, especially when those friends happen to be large breeds. They're energetic and fun-loving, and they certainly make for great hiking companions. However, with these larger breeds come unique challenges - one of which is how to best manage and take care of them during our outdoor adventures. 

A harness is a valuable piece of gear perfect for adventuring with your pup. Using a dog harness, you can better control your pet without harming their neck or struggling to keep hold of a leash. Let's embark on this journey to finding the perfect harness for your pooch. 

Understanding the Need for a Harness for Large Breeds 

When it comes to dealing with big dogs or giant breed dogs, their size and energy must be managed well to ensure both pet parents and pooches enjoy a good experience. This is where a large dog harness and leash attachment points come into play. Notably, harnesses provide better control over your pet, distribute pressure evenly around the dog's body, and prevent both pulling and injuries. For big dog parents, this equipment isn't just a fancy accessory but an essential tool for managing their energetic companions.

Most harnesses designed for large dogs have special features including a belly strap, durable and quality construction, and usually come with reflective trim for visibility at night. Depending on the breed of dogs and their behavior, pet parents can choose from a basic dog harness, moderate coverage dog harness, or full support dog harness. 

The Significance of Large Breed Dogs in Outdoor Activities 

When it comes to outdoor activities like hiking, trailing, or even a casual walk in the park, large-breed dogs are great companions. 

To ensure a fun, safe, and comfortable experience for the parent and the dog, choosing a dog harness that can accommodate the size and strength of large dogs is vital. Whether it's a front attachment harness or a back attachment one, having the right harness can make the experience much more enjoyable and safe.

Health and Safety Considerations for Adventurous Dogs 

Caring for active dogs is not just about providing them with regular meals and a comfortable place to sleep but also about ensuring their health and safety, especially during outdoor activities. A well-fitted harness is designed to provide support and control, prevent chaffing, and even reduce the risk of choking. Furthermore, dog harnesses with a reflective trim ensure that your dog is visible in the dark, reducing the chances of accidents or getting lost. 

The Role of a Harness in Managing and Training Large Dogs 

Believe it or not, harnesses play an important role in training large breeds. They allow pet parents to maintain better control and teach their pets the right behaviors, whether it's walking by their side or refraining from pulling on their leash. 

For instance, a no-pull harness, as the name suggests, is designed to discourage pulling by redirecting the dog’s body toward the handler. Similarly, a tactical harness can be used for advanced training. Each harness comes with its own set of benefits, so it's crucial for pet parents to research and consider their pet’s particular needs when choosing one. 

In conclusion, harnesses play a significant role in ensuring a healthy, happy, and safe experience for the pet parents and their large breed dogs. The right harness will cater to your dog's needs and behaviors and provide you with peace of mind knowing your pooch is safe and comfortable throughout your adventures together. 

Features to Look for in Large Breed Dog Harnesses 

As a big dog parent, there are several features you should consider when shopping for a large dog harness for your big dogs, including leash attachment points, quality construction, and adjustability. 

Harness Material and Durability 

A front attachment harness for dogs made of durable materials such as nylon or leather can withstand the strength of giant breeds. The leash attachment points should also be made of robust materials like stainless steel to support the force exerted by large and energetic breeds. Also, look for a harness with reflective trim for visibility during night-time walks.

Quality construction is crucial for a harness to last. Seek out harnesses with reinforced stitching and buckles. These can often be found in tactical harnesses designed for large and active dogs. 

Sizing and Fit for Large Breeds 

A proper fit is vital for any dog harness, but it's particularly important for large breeds that are chested dogs. Look for a large dog harness that offers adjustability, particularly around the belly straps. The harness should be snug but not too tight—your big dogs should be able to move freely without chafing or discomfort.

A common mistake big dog parents make is buying a single-size harness. Giant breed dogs, like Mastiffs and St. Bernards, are significantly larger than other large breeds like Labradors and German Shepherds, hence they require differently sized harnesses. To ensure your large dog has a proper fitting harness it is crucial to look at the size guides provided and compare your dogs weight and chest girth to them.

Review of Harness Features for Comfort and Control 

The Complete Control Harness, which has both front and back attachment points, is ideal for large and reactive dogs. The front attachment helps to steer the dog, discouraging pulling, while the back attachment is great for loose leash walking or dog sports, adding control for the pet parents. The front clip allows you to guide and redirect your dog's attention, making it a favorite among professional dog trainers. 

Lastly, remember that comfort is king. Look for a harness with padded chest and belly straps. Not only does this help distribute your dog’s pulling force, but it also adds a level of comfort for your pooch during your adventures. 

Fitting Your Adventure 

How to Properly Fit a Dog Harness for Maximum Comfort and Safety 

Proper fitting is crucial for every dog harness, especially for giant breed dogs. It not only ensures comfort but also prevents skin abrasions and reduces the risk of your dog escaping. Here are some tips for properly fitting your dog's harness: 

  • Make sure you select the right size harness based on your dog's measurements. It should fit snugly without constricting movement. 
  • Weight plays a big role in keeping your dog safe and comfortable. Compare the size guide to your dogs weight to ensure proper fit.
  • Adjust the straps so the harness fits close to the body but you can still fit two fingers between the harness and dog. 
  • The chest strap should sit just behind the front legs. Tighten so it doesn't slide back towards the shoulders. 
  • The belly strap needs to allow elbow movement but not be dangling loosely. Tighten so it fits close without moving too much side-to-side. 
  • The neck strap should allow you to fit a couple fingers inside. It should not be pressing on the throat. 
  • The harness should sit evenly on the dog's back without twisting. Make sure straps are symmetrical. 
  • Double check that buckles and clips are fastened securely so the dog cannot wriggle out. 
  • Watch your dog move with the harness on. Make sure it does not constrict range of motion or chafe anywhere. 
  • Retest the fit regularly as your large breed dog grows. Check for any signs of rubbing. Adjust straps as needed. 
  • Introduce the harness gradually if your dog seems bothered by it at first. Have them wear it for short periods to get accustomed to it. 
  • Give your dog treats and praise while wearing the properly fitted harness to reinforce positive associations. 

Common Fitting Problems and Their Solutions 

Even with the guidance of size charts and measurements, large breed dog parents often face harness fitting problems. One common issue is a loose leash leading to slipping out of the harness. This problem typically arises due to an incorrectly fitted belly strap. A quick adjustment should snugly fit the belly strap to prevent escape without causing discomfort. 

Chafing under the belly straps is another issue seen in large-breed dogs. An easy solution to this is choosing a moderate coverage dog harness. These harnesses have moderately spread straps that reduce strain over a single area, reducing the chances of chafing. 

Harness Training Tips for Large Breed Dogs 

Many large dogs aren’t inherently familiar with harnesses, which can create an aversion towards them, causing poor temperament, especially in the large reactive dog breeds. Gradual habituation is the key. Begin by letting them sniff the harness. Use positive reinforcement like treats and praise when they show curiosity about the harness. 

Start with short wears around the house before upgrading to long durations and outside walks. If your dog refuses to move with the harness on, don’t force it. Instead, lure them with treats or their favorite toys to make them walk. Remember, patience is key to successfully training your dog to comfortably wear a harness. Also, always go for quality construction and proper fit. 

The Care and Maintenance of Large Breed Dog Harnesses 

Large dog harnesses often bear the brunt of all the trailing, bouncing, and sometimes, uncontrollable running that comes with owning a sizable, adventurous pet. The effectiveness of these harnesses is heavily dependent on their condition, and as such, requires consistent care and maintenance. From conducting regular checks for wear and tear to understanding when to replace them, the upkeep of large-breed dog harnesses is vital for every big dog parent. 

Cleaning and Storing Your Dog's Harness 

No matter the type of harness it is important to properly clean it. Rough cleaning can weaken the leash attachment points and reflective trim. Most dog harnesses are cleaned by rinsing them under cold water. Using a cloth, wipe down the belly and chest straps. Occasionally, deep cleaning using mild soaps with a soft brush to scrub off dirt in the corners, especially on a full support dog harness, is recommended. 

After cleaning, it's best to hang-dry the harness in a well-ventilated space. Dryers can warp the plastic parts of the harness. When dry, store the harness in a clean, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can result in the discoloration and deterioration of the material, affecting the harness’ durability and aesthetics. Belly straps and chest straps should be stored straightened out to maintain their shape and quality construction. 

Regular Checks for Wear and Tear 

Dog parents should perform regular checks for wear and tear on moderate-coverage and full-support harnesses. Pay attention to the leash attachments, belly strap, front attachment, and contrasting panels with the reflective trim. These parts are usually under the most stress during walks and dog sports. Watch out for any frays, loose threads, or damage on the adjustable straps. Damage on certain parts signifies a robust likelihood of snap wherein a large breed dog could break free, endangering both itself and others. 

Examine the buckles for any cracks or weak points. The last thing a dog parent wants is a buckle breaking during an energetic run in the park. Furthermore, check that all connection points are working correctly. The leash attachment points are particularly important in maintaining control over large and active dogs. Continual checks allow for a preemptive step in harness maintenance and avoiding chaos brought by poor temperament breeds. 

When to Replace Your Dog's Harness 

Even with meticulous care and timely maintenance, every harness reaches a point where it needs to be replaced. If you see persistent damage, compromised attachment points, or if the harness no longer fits correctly due to the potential growth or weight changes of the dog, it's time for a new harness. An adequately fitted harness helps in loose leash training, ultimately improving the quality of life for both pet parents and their large or giant breed dogs.

Lastly, remember that a great fit goes a long way in containing and managing the energy of large and chested dogs. Therefore, having a properly maintained harness not only ensures your pup’s safety and comfort but also helps in nurturing a stress-free and deepening bond between you two. So keep in check, clean, and replace on time! 

Conclusions: Harnessing the Adventure with Your Large Breed Dog 

From big dogs like Bernese Mountain Dogs and German Shepherds to giant breed dogs such as the Great Dane and Saint Bernard, large and energetic breeds vary in size and strength, but share a common theme – they love adventure. As pet parents, it is our responsibility to ensure safety while complementing our large breed dog's need for adventure. One of the best ways to do this is by choosing the right large dog harness

Dog harnesses allow us to have control over our dogs while we're outdoors, minimizing stresses associated with leash pulling and proactive dogs. As big dog parents, we need to consider not just the size but the design, leash attachment points, reflective trim, and whether belly straps are included when choosing the right harness.

Remember, dog harnesses provide more than just control – they are about ensuring your dog's safety and comfort, regardless of their size or breed. Every large dog parent needs to find the perfect harness that is designed for their breed's unique needs.

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