How do I choose the correct harness for my dog?

Dogs in Motion article about Choosing the Correct Harness for your Dog by Michelle Monk

This is a question we get asked at least once per day at the Dogs In Motion clinic. Choosing a harness that suits you and your dog is no mean feat! There are different harnesses for different purposes- and some suit some dogs and their owners better than others.

Most of the harnesses we recommend and sell are for assisting dogs to move and walk and be lifted in and out of cars or up and down stairs. After trying many different harnesses over the years, I have a handful of harness I use and recommend regularly.

This information is to help you select a harness that will suit the needs of you and your dog best. This list is not exhaustive and if you find something else you like that suits you and your dog better, by all means use that one.


Help ‘em Up Harness:

Best For: Most mobility conditions – front limb conditions, hind limb conditions, spinal conditions, general debility, hind limb amputees.

By far the best harness I have ever used to help a dog move and walk is the Bluedog ‘Help ‘em Up Harness’. We use these harnesses every day in our rehabilitation clinic. To assist dogs to walk, to help them during hydrotherapy sessions, to help lift them in and out of the car or their wheelchairs. In my opinion, they are the best on the market for this purpose. Great value for money, well made, durable and comfortable.

These harnesses have both a front and a rear section. The benefit of the 2 sections being clipped together is the rear section cannot fall off the back of the dog. The harness can be kept on your dog for prolonged periods of time – up to 12 hours. The handles are well positioned to enable the handler to easily lift and manoeuvre the dog.

You also have the option of purchasing accessories: a walking handle or leash to enable a good body posture for the person assisting the dog.

A seat belt can be easily attached in the car for secure travelling.

This is a great harness for helping your dog to get up from lying down. To help them walk if they are weak and cant weight bear well. Or to lift them up and down stairs, or in/out of the car. Also great for use during therapy sessions – in the underwater treadmill, or swimming, or to help balance on exercise equipment. Can easily be washed if soiled.

Choosing a size:

There are 5 sizes, that all have quite a degree of adjustability in them. See the sizing section for more details. These can go right up to the largest of dogs, or down to the smallest.

They come in 2 styles: conventional and U-band. If you have a female dog, then the ‘conventional’ is the way to go. If you have a male, then you will need to check your dog’s anatomy to determine which style suits your dog. Click here for more information.

Every vet clinic should have a set of these – they really have made my job in the clinic easier and enabled many pets to walk with greater ease and comfort. This harness is my favourite!


Walkabout Harness Rear Harness:

Best For: Assisting walking and getting up for Hind limb lameness or weakness, neurological or spinal issues causing legs to want to cross

The walkabout harness can be a great harness for dogs needing assistance in the hind limbs. The legs go through 2 leg holes like a pair of pants. Then fasten over the top of the hips with Velcro. This harness needs to be placed on each time you move or walk your dog around.  If left on for prolonged periods it tends to slide off the back end of the dog. It can be really helpful after spinal surgery. Or for any neurological conditions where the rear limbs are wanting to cross or coming very close together. This harness can help to keep the legs apart. It can be worn in the water and is easily cleaned. Made of neoprene so the dog can sweat in warmer weather if left in place for prolonged periods.

Choosing a size:

There are 7 sizes, that all have a small amount of adjustability in them. See the sizing section for more details.

Ruffwear Webmaster

Best For: Front limb amputees, any front limb weakness or lameness

Now if your dog has had a front limb amputation, then this is the harness for you. Most harnesses can slip around the chest wall when placed on a dog with a front limb amputation. The Webmaster Harness has a strap that does up further down the dog’s back, behind the ribcage, helping to prevent slipping forwards or rotating on the chest wall. The sizing guide is here.

Choosing a size:

There are 5 sizes, that all have a small amount of adjustability in them. See the sizing section for more details.


Belly Sling

Best For: easy / speedy lifting or assistance to move dogs with rear limb mobility issues. Also for those with sensitive skin

The Belly Sling Harness great for assisting dogs to walk over slippery surfaces in or outside the house, to protect a limb that is healing or painful, or if both the hind limbs are weak. They can be helpful to assist dogs up steps after surgery on the rear limbs. Or to help support them during toileting. Lined with a soft sheepskin, so the harness is gentle on the skin under the abdomen. They come in 3 sizes small, medium, large.

Choosing a size:

There are 4 sizes, that all have a small amount of adjustability in them. See the sizing section for more details.


So this list is by no means exhaustive. But it is designed to give you some guidelines to follow to help you select the best harness for you and your dog. Dont forget to contact us if you have any questions.

Wishing good health to all dogs and their owners.


About Michelle Monk

I am completely passionate about providing access to rehabilitation for as many dogs and their owners as possible. Not just through my own clinics but also by teaching other health professionals such as Vets, Vet Nurses and Physiotherapists how to provide quality rehabilitation in their clinics.