How to Hook Up a Dog Harness

Harnesses allow you to control your dog while walking or working.
Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Controlling your dog is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, and a harness is a safe alternative to traditional collars. A harness wraps around the neck and chest of the dog, evenly distributing pressure around the body rather than focusing it on the neck as a collar would. The numerous straps and buckles of a harness might be intimidating the first time, but even novice dog owners can hook up a harness.

Step 1

Sit in a chair with your knees directly in front of you, and lay the harness over your knees with one closed circle over each kneecap. The large D-ring for the leash should be on top of your lap, and the long straps with the buckles will hang down towards the floor.

Step 2

Call the dog over to you, and have him stand directly between your feet. Reward him with a treat for standing still and to show him that putting on a harness is a positive exercise.

Step 3

Move the harness from your knees to the dog's back, with the D-ring on his back and the closed circles on either side of his shoulders. Pick up his right front foot and gently place it through the right circle, and slide his left foot through the left circle.

Step 4

Buckle the straps under the dog's chest, and adjust the harness until you can fit no more than two fingers between the straps and the dog's body. Clip a leash to the D-ring and you're ready to step out the door.


  • Never pick a dog up by the harness. While it may evenly distribute the dog's weight, it could cause serious harm.


  • Harnesses can be used on small breeds and large breeds, and are useful for dogs that like to slip out of standard collars.

An Item You Will Need

  • Treats