German shepherd dog wearing a purple harness from Säker and pulling on leash

Why does my dog pulls with a harness?

Why does my dog pulls with a harness?

Dog harnesses in general are not designed to prevent your dog from pulling. The ones that are, are doing it by limiting your dog’s movement leading to potential joint problems and health injuries. Harnesses exist first and foremost to avoid excessive pressure on a dog neck. Good harnesses will keep your dog’s shoulders free and will not limit your dog’s range of motion.

We’ve heard it over and over again from dog enthusiasts all around the world:

“Harnesses cause pulling”


But how is that? Let’s jump into this never ending debate with facts and debunk this myth.

Why do dogs pull?

First of all, why do dogs pull? There are a couple of reasons why dogs like to pull on their leash.

Starting off with the simplest one, dogs have a natural walking speed and rhythm which is way higher than us humans. When a dog is moving, most likely depending on their breeds origin, some dogs natural rhythm will be a trott, while some others will be more of a gallop or a canter. All of those are much faster than a regular human walking speed, making it hard for them to follow us instead of wanting to get in front!

Another reason is that in most cases, dogs will be waiting all day for their walk. When they get outside, everything is exciting. With over 215 million more olfactory receptors than us, it’s really hard to ignore a bird scent trail, another pup's pee spot or the garbage your neighbor left outside.

Now, let’s get deeper into the gear part of the “Harnesses cause pulling” question. Many factors influence this statement. Which type of harness the dog is wearing is a HUGE game changer.

Harness design versus comfort

There are two main types of harnesses, the Norwegian harness or the Y Shaped harness. The latter takes its name from the shape it has at the front. While the Norwegian ones are claimed to help with leash pulling, many dog owners have found out that this statement is only true if it causes discomfort in your dog’s shoulders when it pulls. 

These harnesses restrict proper shoulder movement, and by doing so limit the amount of pulling, but also negatively affect their normal gait patterns. Over time, it can have horrible consequences on dog's joint health as they never get to fully extend their movement. The joints get "rusty" from not moving through their full range of motion.

Black dog wearing a Norwegian harness in snow
Black dog wearing a Norwegian harness


But what about harnesses that don't cause discomfort? They are called Y shaped harnesses. They allow full range of motion of the shoulders. This is basically way more comfortable for the dogs wearing them. Those are the harnesses people say CAUSE dogs to pull. However, with all the informations gathered in this blog, you can totally get why we think this isn't actually true.

Dog wearing a Y shaped harness from Säker at campsite
Dog wearing a Y shaped harness

While it's natural for mosts dogs to pull, it's even easier for them to pull when they are confortable in what they're wearing. While it's a good sign for your dog's joints health to see them loving to pull in their Y shaped harness, it might be a little harder to walk them on a leash. 

Then, how do I get my dog to stop pulling on walks?

There are a couple ways you can help your dog to walk better on a leash. Helping them get out their natural behaviors by leaving them dedicated time to sniff out things, or trying to go a little bit faster to match their pace a little bit more can help. Training also is a total game changer as it will help your pup to have a deeper connection with you.

Never forget that a tool that changes your dog's behaviour instantly when you put it on is causing discomfort to your pup and can hurt them in the long run.

If your dog's health is a priority, using a Y shaped harness and taking time to do some training is the best combination to help your pup to stop pulling while keeping him healthy. Remember, good things takes time!🐶

Happy trails!