Does a no pull harness work?

There are many different training collars available to dog owners. I have used and recommended all of them (Haltis, Gentle Leaders, choke, prong and shock collars).

I know some people prefer one tool over others, because that’s what works for their dogs. But many of us have owned, fostered or cared for a variety of different dogs of all shapes and personalities. For us, I’m glad there are options.

Today I want to focus on a popular training tool, the anti-pull harness.

An anti-pull harness is also called a no-pull harness, a front-clip harness or an Easy Walk harness.

I will use these labels interchangeably, although Easy Walk is a brand name for the PetSafe Easy Walk harness (affiliate link) or Premier Easy Walk harness. I’m not focusing on a specific brand for this post, but I have used the Easy Walk harness and highly recommend it.

Does a no pull harness work

The no-pull harness is a popular tool recommended by many dog trainers who focus on positive reinforcement. You can see Coco modeling one above. I do have it clipped to her collar and the harness in that photo, just something I sometimes do for safety.

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I’m also noticing more and more shelters and rescue groups using no-pull harnesses in replace of choke or prong collars. One benefit to this is that a soft, colorful harness looks more appealing to adopters than a chain collar or even a Halti, which some people mistake for a muzzle because of how it’s worn.

No-pull harnesses vs. standard harnesses

No-pull harnesses are very different than standard harnesses. I generally do not recommend a standard harness (with a clip on the back) for dog walking or training because this type of harness allows the dog to pull with his chest, the strongest part of the dog. Unless the dog is well trained, he can be difficult to control.

How does an anti-pull, front-clip harness work?

Since you clip the leash to the front of the dog, on his chest, the harness creates an uncomfortable sensation for him if he pulls. Ideally, you would use this as a tool, in addition to training techniques to teach the dog to heel or walk on a loose leash.

Of course, some people will not use it as a training tool; they will use it for every single walk for the dog’s entire life. That’s OK, too. If it makes it easier for someone to walk a dog, then I see that as a win.

What kind of dog should wear a no-pull harness?

Any dog can wear one, really. If you’ve used one for your dog, let me know in the comments, along with your dog’s size and body type.

A no-pull harness can be good for solid, muscular dogs with strong necks and dogs with shorter muzzles like English-bulldog-types or pugs.

I do not believe they are the best tool for a dog that is 100+ pounds, depending on your own strength and size. For example, the humane society I work with uses these on all the dogs, and I saw a grown man with good dog-handling skills struggle to walk a fairly mellow but strong 140-pound St. Bernard on one. Since I am 130 pounds myself, I would need a Halti or Gentle Leader-type collar to control such a large dog, which I have done plenty of times.

So, the type of collar that is best for you and the individual dog you are walking depends a lot on just that – you and the individual dog. But, for extra-large dogs, I personally believe a head collar such as a Gentle Leader or Halti gives you more control than a harness.

An anti-pull harness also works well for medium and small dogs, and even toy breeds, especially if you’re concerned about a smaller dog slipping out of a regular collar or being injured by a choke/slip collar. A dog shouldn’t be injured if a collar is used correctly, but I realize this is a real concern people have with smaller dogs.

What dogs shouldn’t wear an anti-pull harness?

I don’t know that there are any specific breeds or types of dogs that shouldn’t wear a no-pull harness. Sometimes, I think it’s just a matter of trying out a few tools with your dog and choosing whatever seems to work best for you. I certainly used a variety of options when I was beginning to teach my Lab mix Ace to heel.

Coco modeling the no-pull harness

However, if you have an especially strong dog, especially if she is reactive to other dogs or people and you have trouble controlling her on the anti-pull harness, I suggest you meet with a trainer to learn some tips or possibly discuss other tools like a head collar or a prong collar. The anti-pull harness is not ideal for every dog, no matter what some trainers will tell you.

I do think anti-pull harnesses are helpful tools overall, but I have seen dogs that are still in control while wearing them, pulling their owners towards other dogs and such. Some of those dogs would be better off on a head collar or prong collar for the time being, in my opinion. (Judge away!)

As with any tool, you need to learn how to use the anti-pull harness properly and determine if it’s really the best choice for your unique dog.

OK, now let me know what you think.

Do you use a no-pull harness for your dog?

Also see my related posts:

Gentle Leader vs. pinch collar

Teaching a dog to heel vs. loose-leash walking

Halti vs. Gentle Leader

Reasons not to use a Halti

Yes I use shock and prong collars

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30 thoughts on “Does a no pull harness work?”

  1. I use a Mikki anti pull harness for Chip (a 3 year old Border Terrier). This does attach at the back but it kind of tightens around her legs when she pulls and therefore stops her pulling and it does her fine.

    I tried this with our new rescue dog (a 5 year old Border Collie) and Phoebe just has too much strength for this harness so I got a Halti Anti Pull harness which clips at the front instead. Let me tell you, my walks changed completely from that point. Phoebe used to really pull me down the road and had a lot more strength in her that I was not used to from Chip. The moment I put this on her, she immediately heeled and didn’t pull once.

    These harnesses are great because they turn the dog towards you when you pull on them which brings the dogs focus back to the owner. Its only a new product for me but I love it,. I can walk both my dogs with one hand now and actually enjoy my walks ! Great product and I would recommend to anyone!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Congrats on your new dog! I’m so glad to hear you like the Halti anti-pull harness and that it’s made a difference for walking Phoebe. I like my walks to be relaxing too, so I hear ya!

  2. I use a no-pull harness on Maya that works a little differently. It is called the Pac 1 Leader from RUN-Devue. It works great! I never could get her used to a gentle leader. I followed all their instructions and spent over a month trying to get her used to it to no avail. The Pac 1 Leader worked instantly. She can still pull a bit, but not like before. Although I like it a lot, I wonder if the PetSafe one will work better. One of Maya’s dog car harnesses has a front clip on it. I’ve used it to see if it works to keep her from pulling but it doesn’t. Is there something about the PetSafe one that makes it work differently than another harness with a front clip?

  3. Thanks for the post!
    I was just contemplating a no-pull harness for Chestnut, a 54 pound English Bull Terrier mix. Strong like a bulldozer. She came with a Gentle Leader but doesn’t care about any discomfort and pulls, pulls, pulls, like it’s her job.
    Anybody looking for a dog to start the sport of weight pulling with?

  4. I have tried the Gentle leader. Never really worked for us. My dog has a narrow nose & he kept getting out of it and didn’t like it. I use a harness because the trainer I have used doesn’t like choke chains. My Simon and I have some days when he is almost perfect and then others when he pulls like crazy and I get really frustrated. I think I am always looking for the perfect collar or system when deep down inside I feel it’s all my fault. Simon is 4 1/2 and we’ve had him since he was 7 mos. old. I hesitate to spend more money on something that won’t work.

  5. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the easy harness, but I don’t like harnesses for walking. This sounds crazy, but Bailie loves to pull. We tried everything to keep her from pulling. She does heal just fine in a classroom setting, but not on real walks. Finally, Mom gave up and just let her go on a super long lead. She could go back and forth, side to side, no commands, just do what she felt like. After several days, she stopped pulling. Now her leash has been shortened and with the exception of spotting a critter close by, she rarely pulls. It may be a fluke, we don’t know, but we are all walking happily now for over two weeks and she just has her regular collar and a leash.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s interesting! Who knows about that Bailie! 🙂 I’m glad to hear she’s walking so nicely now. That’s great!

  6. We use a front clip harness on Jack when we run with him – I do like it since it’s not at his neck, but I find it does pull over to whatever side we are at, so I wonder if it’s uncomfortable. I’m working on getting Maggie to walk better and have just started her with one too.

  7. I haven’t tried one myself, but we were at the Wag Festival in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend and I was surprised how many people use these harnesses. They must work pretty well for a lot of dogs! It was really nice to see thousands of people show up with their dogs and I only saw one small scuffle between two dogs and very few people who were struggling with dogs that were pulling on the leash.

  8. I tried a regular harness, but I have not tried one like this. Hmm… might work for our springer who still pulls even with the Gentle Leader. So far, my favorite tool by far is the Gentle Leader, but this one might be worth a try. Thanks for the info.

  9. we use one for Cookie sometimes when she’ s gonna be on a leash for extended amount of time. it works some of the time for some things and it does reduce the overall force one has to use to hold her when she does pull. doesn’t work around squirrels … Cookie can actually walk very nicely with exceptions.

  10. We used a no pull harness with Rodrigo to curb his pulling. Today, we use a traditional harness on all of our dogs, no pulling. I’m not sure if the no pull harness curbed Rodrigo’s pulling or if growing up did it for us. One thing that I found even more useful for all of our dogs was to change directions when they started doing – it made the walks long and they seemed counter productive, but eventually our dogs started looking to me to lead the walk instead of leading me 🙂

  11. Linn løkketangen

    I use a front clip harness on pelle (8months labmix). I’m quite happy with it, but I might have overestimated his size. I bought an XL expecting him to grow into it, but he hasnt yet. The reason I got it was to spare his growing skeleton the tugging and pulling by the collar on his neck before we were able to teach him to walk nice. Most of the time now he’s fine on the leash and doesnt pull, but when there’s something really interesting he will, and the front clip area ends up on the side of his shoulder.. :p it was really expensive so rather than buying a new one I might modify it myself, but i think ill give him a few more months to grow into it before i get the needle and thread out:)

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I know, I’m not sure what size to get for Remy. I’m thinking large. It will be too big right now but he should grow into it. I think!

  12. Cathy Marcoccio

    Those don’t work enough for my two dogs. They still pull. They could care less if it was awkward. The boy, I managed to get in check, unless he gets overly excited. The girl, I learned of the Wonder Walk leash. Now, That worked like… a… Charm! It’s like a Gentle Leader but the handler has it from behind the head instead of under the chin so there’s no fumbling having to switch sides. Like the Gentle Leader it’s Very important to use it properly or your furry companion could get hurt. I learned about it from my client dog who (I walk 3x/week. No Fun!) they took to a school who has this in their program. Their dog went from like walking a 55lb ferret w zero attention span to a manners school graduate in one day. Blew my mind. Worked on my dog just as well. Happy walks

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Nice, haven’t heard of it. I use a Gentle Leader on my puppy Remy and while it’s the best thing I have at the moment he pulls way too hard with it and it rubs/hurts him under his eyes.

  13. Cathy Marcoccio

    I work with the strays, surrenders and ones with issues at my local shelter so I walk a large variety of dogs. They use the no pull harness and I hate it, personally. It minimizes pulling for the dogs that pull mildly. If you have a dog who’s auditioning for the Iditarod, then you’ll be disappointed.

  14. Cynthia Danna

    our Chocolate Lab is 10 months and 80 lbs, and even though she passed intermediate dog training at 6 months, she still wants to pull. She can focus heel very well, but usually I prefer a casual walk. I have found that whenever we are going for a walk, learning to go into stores, etc, I use the harness that clips more on the back and a bungy leash. (it is wonderful! less pull to your arms and the leash actually pulls back on her gently!). The MOST important part is to stay in training mode and when she pulls, stop immediately, call her back to you, even take a step back or change directions and when she complies, reward. It has worked wonders!!

  15. Cathy Marcoccio

    Lindsay, I can see how that could happen w the Gentle Leader since the strap is flat. With the Wonder Walk or Wonder Leash it’s round.. It’s basically a slip lead. Just put the loop over the head, figure 8 under the chin and goes up/over the muzzle and tighten obv. Some have a back up attachment to the collar which I prefer because I work w such unpredictablity not knowing the dogs. But if you have it secure properly you should be fine. Or double up to start by using a collar and leash in addition to the Wonder Leash so you get a feel for it. That’s what I did.

  16. I used the sensation no pull harness on my 36lb dobie mix and it worked well until I noticed the hair was rubbed off and skin irritated under her front right arm. Vet said it was fit properly too. Never used it again and went to a martingale collar but she is still pulling when she sees cats and squirrels so have to rethink things for her own neck protection

  17. The Gentle Leader has worked wonders for me and my 63-lb hound for about 3 yrs now…he’s 4. He will still pull sometimes if spotting a bunny, kitty or squirrel, but otherwise it’s great. I’d really like to teach him not to pull altogether and sometimes he’s fine without it for a short while. I tried the Easy Walk harness which didn’t help at all plus it chafed him under his “arms”. I’d like to try a thinner- strapped anti-pull harness. I’ll never use a prong collar, choke chain, shock collar, etc. I consider that cruel and unnecessary.

  18. A “No Pull” harness may be great -but- not if the dog will not let you put it on him. I get the harness and he runs. IF and when I get it on him he runs around like crazy all excited. Then we go for our walk and he is ok. I have a Ruffwear Front Range Harness. Has the clip on the back -and- on the front. I hook up both cause I thought that was the way it was supposed to be used. Now from reading your article and some of these replies I think that I should only be using the front clip when training and can use just the back clip when it is just for fun.
    Thanks for all your efforts.

  19. I found that even if you fit it properly, the easy walk harness can still cause abrasion underneath the leg area as the dog tries to pull.

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