Harnesses — why some are more appropriate for dogs than others
**Disclaimer - We are NOT saying that all other harnesses are inferior to our Fluid Motion harness. We only wish to point out the pros and cons to harness construction and how they are worn on your dog.**
Dog's use all four limbs for motion, because of this, their forelimbs are different in some ways from ours. Tendons, ligaments, and muscles are similar between humans and dogs, however, there are some orientation, size, and attachment point differences.
The bone structure of human and dog's forelimbs are similar. Both forelimbs are composed of phalanges, metacarpals, carpals, a radius, and ulna in the forearm, joining to the humerus at the elbow joint, and then the humerus joining in a ball and socket joint to the scapula (shoulder joint). (Information that really is not needed at this time, BUT is helpful in understanding the similarities between human and dogs limb structure)
So there are a lot of harnesses around, right?
So which are more suitable for performance dogs, rather all dogs in general? We are looking for harnesses that allow a full range of motion, and don't cut across large muscle groups found in their chests and upper limbs. Primarily their; Deltoid, Triceps, Supraspinatus and Bicep muscles.
Note that there are some muscles involved in shoulder extension, that are prone to common injuries. These are the supraspinatus, and biceps. Biceps tenosynovitis and Supraspinatus tendinopathy (We won’t get into the technical “stuff” here and now.)
If we look at one popular style of harness, and where this cuts across muscle groups, we can see that it cuts across the biceps, along with the deltoid, tricep supraspinatus and chest muscles.
Control Style Harness
This style of harness work's by restricting the dog's range of motion, therefore making it harder for the dog to pull forwards. This may make walking a pulling dog's easier, it is also likely to affect not only your dogs range of motion, but possibly cause injury.
Obviously, not all harnesses will fit all dog's perfectly, what you need to consider for your dog, is what is the best pieces of equipment to use with them, to meet your needs as well as minimize injury. Dog's can injure themselves on a flat collar and lead, or head halter, with incorrect fitting and use.
Sling Style Harness
Is your dog able to “back out of” the harness they are in right now, it would be a sling harness. Another issue of this harness type is that sit into the dogs armpit constantly rub into the armpit and can cause; hair loss, possible blistering and sores.
Your dog is able to escape this type of harness because they have learn to lift their elbow up and under the rear strap to allow them to back out of it.
By positioning the rear strap 3 - 4 finger widths behind the elbow medium and large breed dogs (2-3 fingers for small breeds), as in our Fluid Motion body harness they no longer can get they elbow into it and escape.
Similarity to the control harness it restricts your dogs range of motion and cuts into critical muscle groups.
FLUID MOTION Harness
When a harnesses front strap runs horizontal across the front they are restricting your dogs deltoid and tricep muscles. If these are used for any long period of time they can harm your dogs stride as they grow older. Another common mistake with harnesses is that they sit into the “armpit” of the dog as then run up the sides of the chest. This is where you will find chafing occurring on your dog.
Our FLUID harness is design to sit 3-4 finger widths behind the elbow and then around the rib cage on medium and large dogs, on small dogs, it should be adjusted to be 2-3 finger widths behind their elbow. Soon we will have a video breaking down our harness and what you should be looking for when selecting a proper harness for your dog as well as showing how to properly fit it to your dog.
On a harness there are 4 critical areas to note and adjust for:
In the front where the neck straps and the under belly strap joins at the 3-point connection, that connection needs to be positioned to be sitting on the top of their Sternum bone, no higher, we don’t want it cutting into the throat area. (It should make a nice V shape around the dogs neck to join at the upper base of their neck on the Spine.)
Adjust the underbelly strap so that it positions the chest straps so that they are 3 or 2 fingers behind your dog's elbows.
The top sits directly on top of their Spinal column and starts at the base of their neck.
To ensure that your harness is not overly tight for your dog, you should be able to run one finger (palm side down) between the harness strap and your dogs body with little to no resistance.
When ordering please make sure that you have the correct measurement of your dog's chest circumference. Whether it's 2 to 4 fingers widths behind their elbow depending on the breed.
XSMALL - Chest Circumference 15.5" - 19" MEDIUM - Chest Circumference 24" - 31"
SMALL - Chest Circumference 17" - 23" LARGE - Chest Circumference 31" - 40"