You’re here because your dog is having a comfort issue. Most dogs are comfortable in our harness and your dog should be too. The good news is most comfort and chafing issues are easily resolved with the following troubleshooting and informational steps. The ‘bad news’ is that there are a lot of issues around comfort – so there are many suggestions and things that can be done. But it is worth the reading to have a happy dog. In general, the there are three areas we look at to resolve these issues: the harness, the dog, and how the harness is used.
If the tips and idea here don’t resolve the issues, please email us the answers to the questions at the bottom of this page.
Most harnesses chafe a dog because of poor design. Walk Your Dog With Love eliminated these design problems, getting rid of all the hard hardware (buckles, rings, sliders) or hard folded over & sewn webbing that most other webbing harnesses have. Plus, it’s not bulky or stiff or one of those confining whole-body harnesses. Those are some of the classic things that can cause chafing; Walk Your Dog With Love is light and simple.
Like you, we never want your dog walked by its neck – so resolving this is very important. Collars and chokers are not a safe, compassionate or friendly way to be walked. You can see why we say this here. Walking a dog by its neck is dangerous, with all the damage being caused inside where you can’t see it. Like with your neck, literally everything for Life passes through the neck as it goes from the Head to the Body to the Brain and back. More than just air, food and water, it’s the spinal column, nerves, electric impulses, major and minor arteries and veins … and then there are the numerous fragile structures ranging from the larynx & trachea to sensitive glands like thyroid & lymph glands. Walking with a collar/choker, the neck is pressed, pulled, tugged and tweaked (yes, even with the most gentle walking dogs in the world). Does this make any sense to do? No. There’s no other animal on earth walked by its neck – so why do we do this with our dogs, our “Best Friends”. Simply putting your own hand on your own throat should answer the question of ‘Is it OK?’.
The first thing to do is to make sure that you have the right size and then review the fitting information. That info is below.
Some ‘fine’, yet important, points from the Fitting video are reiterated in the notes below the video. Often this review alone will make all the difference. If you have a sizing question please email us your dogs WAG: Weight, Age and Girth as we show how to measure it. If your dog’s an English Bulldog, please tell us (Yes, you can tell us about your dog even if it isn’t an English Bulldog 😊)
Boo-boo’s.. That chafed spot needs to heal. Many vets prescribe Quadritop for minor boo-boos when the skin isn’t broken. Our technique for minor boo-boos is to take a very very small dab of triple-antibiotic and the same of hydrocortisone and to mix them together in the palm of our hand. Then we apply the thinnest, invisible layer to the dog’s affected spot, several times a day (usually before something distracting, so that they aren’t interested in licking the treatment off).
Sensitive dogs. Some dogs are just sensitive and might chafe more than others. They, like their humans, might simply need a little extra layer of softness between them and their outer wear. That’s why socks and underwear were invented. More on this in a moment because there are many other things to consider.
How WE walk the dog. There are several simple things WE humans do to cause our dogs to chafe. The good thing is when we stop doing them, the chafing disappears.
Understanding the ‘strength’ of a front-leading harness. Leading from the front requires a different kind of walking style than you might be used to because the front-leading harness put a lot of ‘power’ into your hands. It is, in fact, like power steering in a car. Unfortunately, many humans feel they need to ‘Pull hard to be heard’. This is not the case with a front-leading dog harness. Leading from the front generally requires a lighter touch. Pulling hard can lead to chafing or worse – for instance is we pull when the dog is in the middle of a leap, they can end up on their backs.
Understanding front-leading design. A front-leading harness puts the body strap closer to the dog’s armpits than a back-attached harness. It’s unavoidable. As dog parents we need to be cognizant of this when we walk.
We also need to be cognizant of it as Manufacturers. Most front-leading harnesses are ‘contraptions’: they have a ton of hard & heavy hardware, lots of folded over and sewn webbing (which is stiff and has sharp edges), plus poor design (like using strap tension to hold the harnesses in place). This all leads to chafing. A lot of back-attached harness suffer these issues too.
Unlike other harnesses, Walk Your Dog With Love uses intelligent dog-friendly design to make the lightest, simplest and most minimal harness ever. So it is sweet on your dog. We also have a back-attached harness; depending on your dog’s activities it might be a good match.
Many humans hold their leash very high. We see this all the time, as do the countless trainers that we work with. The ‘cure’ is to ‘relax’ your hands and arms and let them go down to a more natural position, lower and more at your sides. A walking belt can go a long way to helping this issue because it lets a person relax their hands and arms.
Holding the leash ‘up’ can cause the body strap on any harness (ours or the competitions) to pull into your dog’s armpits. This one tip will probably ‘do the trick’ to correct the issues. As noted above, when Trainers ‘train’ their humans on how to hold the leash, the chafing issue usually goes away. And usually the dog behaves better too! This is because it’s human is more relaxed, and the dog isn’t under continual stress from its human.
Many humans also have the drive to ‘fidget’ with the leash. This is another thing that trainers see all the time. It means that humans constantly tug on the leash – as if they need to ‘feel’ something on the other end. If they had a helium balloon on a string, they would do the same thing. This constant, and unnecessary, ‘doink-doink’ with the leash is doink-doinking their dog the other end – constantly pulling on the harness, which is rubbing on their body. Imagine if someone was to doink-doink you all the time. Many of us do this with the leash unconsciously. Is it a reflexive form of ‘control? Is it a deep rooted basic insecurity? Is it an OCD behavior? Do we believe that if we tug on the dog all the time the dog will be ‘safer’, or know that we are the boss, or know that we care? Is it a way of ‘being connected’ to the dog?
Whatever it is, now that you know, you can catch yourself doing it – and stop – because it’s likely chafing your dog. It’s for sure annoying it. Doink-Doink
Oppositional behavior. Oppositional Behavior is the natural instinct of an animal to pull in the opposite direction when it is pulled on. Think “Sled Dog”. By leading from the front, our harness helps to minimize this on the dog. Yet it doesn’t minimize it on the part of humans … WE still want to pull when pulled on. So when our dog wants to sniff here or go visit that cat over there – our instinct is also to pull back. Even if we don’t have to. Pull. Pull. Pull. Yes, this is similar to the items mentioned above – and it is something to be aware of because it can cause chafing and annoy our dogs.
When we take our dog for a walk – whether it is a poop & pee or a pleasure walk/hike, we are out with a Being that has its own thoughts and desires. And the very purpose we are out with them…is to be with them. It’s ‘their time’. So the key would be to ‘let them be’. Sure, we need to keep our dog’s from sniffing that porcupine or chasing that car, yet The Struggle doesn’t need to be such a struggle. Nor does it need to be a constant struggle. When we minimize our own Oppositional Pulling, we won’t be creating extra chafing.
Allergies. Like with humans, some dogs have allergies that might cause them to chafe. Our Original harness is made of Polypropylene. The Sportso/NEO/BroadBands are made of Nylon. The Soft & Sweet is made of Polyester.
Dog fur-type and style of harness. There are furry dogs, hairy dogs, fuzzy dogs, flat coat dogs, no coat dogs…. There are also three different harness materials. Matching the material to the fur-type might help in some cases. The Original is thin, textured, doesn’t absorb water and is very flexible. The Sportso/NEO/BroadBands are more robust and have a smooth surface, The Soft & Sweet has a ‘fabric’ like surface and is the softest of the three materials. Most no-coat, flat coat and thin haired dogs would probably prefer our smoother Sportso/NEO/BroadBands styles or the Soft & Sweet style. If chafing is known issue for your dog then the Soft & Sweet would be the choice from the start.
Right tool for the right job. What kind of activities are you doing with your dog? Humans use different tools for different jobs, and the same is true for dog walking because not all walks are the same. Given the choice, humans use different shoes and clothing for walking, running, dancing, bowling, office work, construction work, ballet, yoga. What works well in one situation works against us in another. Yet we ask a single harness to perform a multiplicity of tasks on our dogs.
Having the right harness for the kind of activity your dog is doing is important; otherwise you might get chafing. For instance, jogging or running is a rapid motion, high impact activity for your dog versus even a very energetic walk. We go on a jog with our lightweight sneakers with energy-absorbing soles and our moisture-wicking high performance running shorts… and our dog just gets ‘the same old same old’. A four hour hike versus a poop ‘n’ pee walk is the same issue. This is not something that is at the top-of-mind for most people. It is for us. If you contact us, please tell us what kind of activity your dog is involved in, so we can make recommendations.
Full time wear versus just on walks. Dogs do best in the clothing that they were born in. So the less time we expose our dogs to wearing anything, the better. Full time wear means that the dog has more opportunity to rub, etc. Also, the harness will be on a dog that is doing a lot of things other than walking – like laying down with it on – which means that the fabric and hardware can rub and push against their bodies in ways it wouldn’t do on a walk. We recommend only wearing a harness during an on leash activity and where you are supervising your dog. There are many reasons for that last part, mainly concerning the dangers of full time wear and the safety of your dog. Feel free to contact us for details. As noted above, this is not something that is at the top-of-mind for most people…but it is for us.
Tie out. Is your dog wearing the harness while tied out? Tie outs can cause chafing because of where the line is being ‘held’ (a hook on the building, an overhead line, a stake in the ground, etc.). There are also different kinds of forces that can occur on a tie out – like accelerating forces from running and then suddenly being stopped. There is also a whole other discussion needed abut being tied out – because it has many dangers - chafing being the least of them. As above, feel free to contact us for details – our job is to Think about these kinds of things.
Retractable leads. Without going into tremendous detail, retractable leads cause accelerating forces that are not usual for a dog or its harness to take – and that can cause chafing. These leads are also extremely dangerous for dogs and their humans. Once again, as noted above, this is not something that is at the top-of-mind for most people…but it is for us. Please contact us for details if you walk your dog this way.
Environment. Where and when we walk our dogs can impact chafing. A romp on the beach is fun, yet sandy. One grain of sand in your flips flops or sneakers can chafe your foot, think about all the grains of sand on your dog and your dog’s harness. What about water? Sure it’s fun to get wet in the rain, stream, pond ocean or even snow. Yet that wetness is also being held in and can irritate, plus it often has extra bacteria along for the ride. And it also attracts dirt and grit. After you take a swim in a pond, you might take a shower…the dog just gets to dry off.
A sedate short walk on a drizzly day can even attract dirt and grit. Or even on a nice dry day; walking barefooted where your dog walks will quickly show you that there is a lot of chafing dirt just about everywhere – even in your house. And dogs are a lot closer to the dirt than us, and their hairy bodies are designed to attract it. Now sandwich that in between a harness strap and add some rapid motion…
What to expect from wearing anything. Next to you, we love your dogs more than anyone else in the world (That’s why this section is so long). Sometimes clothing ‘does’ things. Just wearing a watch can rub the hair off your wrist. Sneakers cause a callus, etc. The same can be said for some dogs and their harnesses. Of course we don’t want your dog to be in pain or hurt in any way, yet you will need to determine if this is a ‘wearing clothing thing’.
Sometimes unique circumstances do require unique responses. Some dogs just are super sensitive and chafe when they wear anything. Take our friend Bronco, the white Boxer. He has very little hair, and literally everything makes his skin turn red. Poor dog. In cases like this, you will want to provide some ‘clean underwear’ usually in the form of a soft fabric sheath for the harness. That extra layer of softness can make the difference. Some people are handy and can make them out of super fluffy socks or faux wool from the fabric store. Other people purchase them – touch base with us for where to do that.
Fitting The Harness
Please take a moment to make sure the harness is a) adjusted correctly and b) put on your dog correctly. Please watch the video below . . . even if you have seen it before.
Please note the following fine points in the video:
It is not a matter of "tight" it is a matter of "right". Too tight is one of the major reasons a harness will chafe. We feel the best way for it to fit your dog is 'snug'. That means 2-4 fingers can fit under the harness at the shoulder (where the reflective material is). You can see this on the video.
To make sure the harness isn’t pulling into your dog’s armpit, make sure that the front part of the harness is not too tight. The front part is the part that has the O ring and slider with the two straps of material (that need to be kept even) going through it. If the front part is too tight, it pulls on the material that goes by your dogs armpits.
Please note the 'gap' mentioned in the video. The 'gap', and the harness 'bowing out” are part of the design; you will see this when the dog pulls. The material, and your dog, are flexible; the harness is not supposed to fit like skin-tight spandex. Please do not over-tighten the harness because you see this.
Because the harness pulls from one side, it 'bows' and 'gaps', and it doesn't look even, yet this is perfectly normal. Front-leading harnesses are asymmetrical, so the left and the right side do not look even when in use. While this might not please the human eye, it is exactly how the harness should look.
Please note the "scooching" for proper fit. This is very important.
You also might need to adjust it a few times to get it "just right".
As noted in the video, once you find where you like the slidy side, customize it further by "setting" it as described in the video. Now you have a dog harness tailored just for your dog!
It should fit approximately like it does on Teddy, the blond dog in the photo below
Getting The Right Size Dog Harness
Getting the right size is easy. It can usually be done just by knowing your dog's approximate weight.
YET, to totally make sure you get the right size, see the Girth measurement chart below. Girth is the measurement that goes over your dog's shoulders, right behind the front legs, and back up again. Like the red arrow shows.
Please measure with your dog standing. Measure it as if it was the harness - not too tight, not too loose.
If your dog can fit in two size harnesses, we usually prefer the bigger dog in the smaller harness. If the measurement is at the very top of one size, then go up to the next size. If you still have sizing questions please email us your dog’s WAG (Weight, Age, Girth as described above and in the picture) and we will help you.
If you have a puppy, we have a Puppy Promise, where the next size up is just half price. Yes, even if you have a Great Dane.
Next Steps. Assuming that you have investigated the tips above and tried them, and you are still having issues please email us the following:
Your dog’s WAG: Weight, Age and Girth as we show how to measure it above.
Photos. 1 of the size label. 1 of where on the dog any issue is occurring, 1 of the whole dog wearing the harness from the side where the issue is. Please get as close as you can to the dog, yet include the whole dog in the photo.
What was your dog using before this harness? What was your dog’s experience with it?
Why did you get this harness?
Is this your first time using any harness?
Is this the first time using our harness? How many walks have you been on with this harness?
Please share with us anything you can about how you found out your dog was having an issue. What you first noticed, etc.
What did you try from the above list, and how did it work for you?
What activities do you do with your dog wearing the harness and what are the conditions? The more share with us the more insight we can have to help your dog be more comfortable e.g. my dog only wears the harness only for walks/full time/only for outside activity. We take just poop & pee walks/long street walks/mountain hikes/beach jogs/at the dog park/ playing with the other dogs in the backyard, etc. Also please make sure to tell us in what ‘conditions’, e.g. just the street, trial, etc.