How Much Do You Know about Dog Harnesses?

Harness the Full Potential of Canine Equipment

A dog harness is piece of equipment for dogs, similar to harness tack for horses. There are various designs, depending on the type of use. Harnesses can be used on Seeing Eye dogs in assistance of a disabled person, on working dogs that haul a cart or sled, or even in sporting events, such as in the Scandinavian practice of skijoring and pulka. Harnesses are also worn by non-working dogs for purposes.

A harness is often worn in conjunction with a dog collar and used as an alternative for a dog leash attachment. While a collar only encircles the neck, harnesses have a loop that surrounds the torso as well, with connecting straps between them for added reinforcement and control. The design allows for distribution of force which may prevent choking; a dog will also not be able to slip free from a harness as they may easily do from a standard collar. Harness usage is growing in popularity among many pet owners, especially for those with smaller breed dogs. Buttonholes in pet clothes allowing access to harness straps are among recent adjustments to accommodate the increasing use of harnesses.

Assistance dogs will sometimes wear a harness if part of their job requires guiding or providing physical mobility for a disabled person. Generally, the harness design includes a built-in handle for the person to grip; this type also offers reinforcement to the handler as well as a padded breast plate for the dog’s comfort. Overall sturdiness of the design depends on whether the dog is gently leading, acting as a brace, or physically pulling a wheelchair.

Sled dog harnesses vary depending on the purpose of the animal; the two basic duties of a sled dog is hauling freight or some sort or racing. Harnesses come in three main types: the freight harness, the H-back harness, and the X-back harness. Dog sports are growing and more types of harnesses are being developed, including the Y-back style and guard or distance harness.

The freight harness is often a H-back harness that forms a ladder-like effect across the back with a wide chest band and sometimes extra padding. The construction distributes the weight across the chest and over the shoulders because of the broadness of the area; is designed to help the dog pull heavy weights efficiently. They may also feature a spreader bar behind the wheel dogs and before the sled or cart.

Racing harnesses are often lighter and shorter than freight harnesses. The X-back harness gets its name from the straps that form an 'X' across the back of the dog. It is used more frequently than the H-back, with short versions that ride farther forward on the dog's body recently gaining in popularity.

The Y-back is a hybrid that is somewhat similar in appearance to the H-back. The tugline attaches to the harness on top of the dog's back and stretches parallel to the ground or upwards to whatever is being hauled; the direction depends on what is being hauled.

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