Because Rugby is so very reactive on the leash when he’s out and about, I started using a harness many years ago. Using a leash and collar with Rugby seemed to heighten his anxiety and reactivity, and I think he responds better on a harness. Truthfully, I lose a little of the good control I would have with a collar, but for my dog, this is a much better option. I think he’s far less reactive on a harness, and because I can’t take him to many populated places, it’s a very safe arrangement that works well for us. When nothing much trips his triggers, I don’t have to worry much about having lots of control, because he’s relaxed and calm.
Because I’m a dog trainer, Rugby always gets to be my Guinea Pig when it comes to trying new things! And honestly, I try things out on him before I use them on client’s dogs, because there are some types of equipment that just don’t seem to work well with the way that I train, or Rugby hasn’t responded well at all, and so I’m leery of asking a client to spend the money for something that I don’t think will help produce results for them!
Rugby’s not a fan of being a Guinea Pig, but in all honesty, he’s quite a little champ when it comes right down to it. He makes it clear that he doesn’t like the process, and then sucks it up and gives it a go anyway. He generally looks at me a little like he’s thinking, “Just what is this contraption that you have for me this time?!”
I remember the day I wanted to try out these Sporn walking harnesses with Rugby. I had tried a head harness with him only to have awful and terrifying results, so I was really hoping that a walking harness would work for him.
I tried a very popular walking harness that has a front loop on the dog’s chest where the leash is attached, and because of the way that the harness was made, it loosened up over time, and one day, I narrowly caught Rugby just as one front leg was out and he was working on the second leg and heading out as a free agent! Rugby happened to have seen another dog, and was in his full blown meltdown to escape! In seconds, he had almost nearly escaped that harness, and that’s the last time he wore it! We all want to know that our dogs are safely secure in the equipment we choose to use with them! I have clients who use the front loop style harness with good success, so it’s not a bad harness at all. It’s just not a good choice for my dog, who is extremely reactive!
I felt as frustrated as so many of my clients do when they spend money and products just don’t work for them or for their dog. As a dog trainer, I often have an edge on new “gear” that’s coming out. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes…well…it just doesn’t cut it for me. When I can find something that really works, and I can recommend to my clients and help them get great results, that’s a great product in my book! And this is a harness that really delivers!
First of all, it’s a harness that has some built in mild correction to it. The mesh panel which fits at the dog’s chest, has elastic strips enclosed which will gently compress the dog’s chest when he pulls, offering a mild correction. Many dogs feel uncomfortable with that arrangement, and they stop pulling.
Secondly, you don’t need an engineering degree to put it on your dog or fit it to him! That’s a big bonus! I have clients buy harnesses, and they hand them to me in a big knot, and say, “Can you figure out how to put this on my dog?” And then I’m fumbling with it, looking at a wad of straps and mess that makes no sense to me! This harness is super easy to put on and take off!
Thirdly, it’s easy to fit, and it stays snug on your dog! Because Rugby nearly escaped the other style harness that I had tried, I really wanted to find something that was going to securely contain him! Let’s face it: Outside a securely fenced area, your dog is only as safe as the equipment that you’re using on him!
The only hang up for a dog that I can see, is for those dogs who really seriously object to anything going over their heads. This harness does slip over a dog’s head, and you feed his paws through the side loops, and pull a little button box down to fit the harness snugly on your dog. The leash attaches to a ring which is on the back of your dog. I’ve only had two dogs ever refuse to let me put it on them, and this video will help you make the process easier. In fact, you can use this same process for anything that goes over your dog’s head…collars, sweaters or coats, etc.
Truthfully, I think these Sporn walking harnesses are terrific! They’re affordable, durable, and I really like the way that the manufacturer was thoughtful enough to add sherpa sleeves over the straps to prevent any chafing or rubbing the sensitive area under a dog’s front legs. So many traditional, figure eight type harnesses can rub raw spots and so for me, fit and comfort are really important!
I’ve used this style harness for calmer Pitbulls and German Shepherds down to Chihuahuas and everything in between! For dogs who are mild pullers, or who need a harness over a collar, this harness works nicely. Keep in mind that for this harness to really be effective, you’ll need to train your dog to walk well with you on a loose leash, and that will take a bit of practice to master it. But if you’re patient and consistent, your dog will do really well on this harness.
Sporn did not pay me to endorse their product and they have no knowledge of anything that I’ve written here. I purchased the harness myself, and have not received anything at all from Sporn. All opinions expressed are purely my own and Sporn is not responsible in any way for this review.