A service dog harness is an absolutely essential piece of gear for most people and their service dogs. If you rely on your dog for mobility or stability, you need a sturdy harness to help you hold on and to give your dog an effective way to support you comfortably.
Harnesses can also hold the gear that you need for your service dog. Of course, they also carry the service dog patch so that everybody will know why your dog is allowed in public places. I looked into the five best service dog harnesses to find out which are ideal for the unique needs of service dogs.
Who needs a service dog harness?
Your dog should only wear a service dog patch on their harness if they have specific training to help you with a diagnosed disability. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”
This is different than an emotional support dog that benefits the owner’s mental state or psychological disability by being with them, or a therapy dog trained to provide emotional benefits to people in hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, schools, etc. Only dogs that are trained to assist their owner in a specific way for a particular disability or disabilities should wear a service dog harness or vest.
While harnesses and patches are available to anyone, and there’s no certification required to have or use a service dog, it is very important that only dogs trained specifically to assist people with disabilities wear service dog patches.
Training your dog to wear a service dog harness
Teaching your dog to wear a harness should be an important part of service dog training from day one. Choose a harness that allows you to choose a “Service dog in training” patch until your dog is fully trained.
- Begin by exposing your dog to the harness while rewarding them with treats, toys, and affection.
- Once your dog is excited by the sight of the harness, you can begin putting it on briefly. Put the harness on, reward your dog, and take it off.
- Continue increasing the time your dog spends in the harness until they are comfortable wearing it all the time. Watch for rubbing throughout this process and make adjustments as necessary.
*When your dog is wearing the harness, it needs to be work time. Practice putting pressure on the handle, asking your dog to perform service commands, and doing other training exercises during the brief periods that your dog wears the harness. Be sure to take the harness off when your dog is engaging in playtime, resting, and generally not working.
Here is one person training their service dog in a harness specially adapted to their disability needs.
One of the most important features of a service dog harness for most people is a very stable handle and a good fit. Stability is why you may choose a harness over a service dog vest. If you need assistance with mobility, stability, or want to hold on to your dog to pull your wheelchair forward, you need a handle sturdy enough for you to comfortably hold for an extended period.
Make sure that the harness you choose is stable enough that it won’t slide around on your dog even if you grab the handle from an angle. The harness can’t slip back and forth, which helps ensure both your safety and your dog’s comfort.
Your service dog will be wearing this harness a lot. If you need mobility help in your home, your dog will likely wear this harness all day, every day. Therefore, you need a harness that is very comfortable for your dog.
Every dog is built a little bit differently. Even dogs of the same breed often have very different dimensions and ways of moving. Choose a harness that is highly adjustable if your dog has an unusual build such as short legs, a long back, or a very thick neck. Choose a harness that is both breathable and light, especially if your dog will be wearing it in hot weather.
If you go everywhere with your dog, you’ll need to take some things with you. Pockets give you somewhere to put your dog’s necessary supplies like treats, food, and a water bowl. They can also give you a place to put important things like medication, messages to people who may see you in an emergency situation or find your dog, a tracking device, etc.
“Service Dog” label
If you will be using this service dog harness in public, you need a service dog label. You can choose a harness that has a service dog label already attached, one with a hook and loop attachment that comes with separate service dog patches, or a harness that does not have patches included but has plenty of hook and loop space for you to put what you want on it. However you want to do it, it is important that the label is large, easy to read, and has bright colors that stand out, such as red or orange.
Easy on and off
Your service dog should only wear the harness while working. This is the best way to make sure that they associate the harness with work time. It will also prevent them from developing sores from rubbing when wearing the harness while resting.
You need a harness that is easy to put on and take off, especially if you have physical limitations that may make this especially challenging. Choose a harness with buckles that can be released with one hand so that you don’t mind taking it on and off frequently.
5 Best Service Dog Harnesses
- Top Notch Quality: 1000D Nylon construction for durability and dirt/water/abrasion resistance; One loop panel on top of harness for attaches DO NOT PET patch, ASK TO PET patch, blood type patches,...
- Patrol Harness Vest with Pouches: Dog vest feature 2 rows of MOLLE straps on each side compatible with MOLLE pouches, pet bowl, doggy waste bag holder, water pouch etc
- Multifunction Pouches: 3 in a set for carrying gear, it can be adapted to retain anything. EMT pouch for holding medical kit, sunscreen, tissues, etc.; EDC pack for carrying water, dog treats, poop...
If you go everywhere with your service dog, you probably have a few things that you like to take along with you. You may want to carry two bags, a water bottle, and food and treats. This convenient harness comes with detachable pouches so that you can take everything that you need right along with you.
Lots of hook and loop sections make it easy for you to attach a service dog patch or any other patches both on the main body of the vast and on the pouches. This can also be very convenient if you want to label a pouch with important things that you need, such as insulin or medication.
This harness isn’t cheap, but it has top-notch construction and is made of 1000D nylon that is durable against dirt, abrasion, and water. This harness has double handles so that you can grab your dog at either the neck or the back, giving you more support and more control over your dog.
- Three pouches included so that your dog can carry everything you need
- Extensive hook and loop sections so you can attach service dog patches, other labeled patches, pouches, etc.
- 1000D nylon is highly durable against water, dirt, and wear
- Double-grab handles so you can control your dog from the neck or behind and easily stabilize yourself when necessary
- Widely adjustable so you can achieve the perfect fit for your dog without frustrating issues with sliding
- Handle stitches may degrade somewhat with lots of use
- Highly functional, tactical appearance may be off-putting for some people
- Rear strap may rub some male dogs with shorter backs
- [2x METAL BUCKLE]: 2 x Metal Buckle (1000 lb Proof-Load Test ) on Dog Shoulder Position which the most Load Bearing Point When Dog Pulling, 2 x POM buckle (250 lb Proof-Load Test ) on belly...
- [CUSTOM- FIT]: No Rub As well as Escape-proof; Harness was designed by Putting 2 Individual Components Together ,Offer 4 Position Adjustable ( Shoulder ,Chest ) ,Free adjust Properly ;Make Sure This...
- [NO PULL/SAFETY CONTROL]: Connect leash to No pull front clip,redirect the dog forward motion and make dog's leg off the ground ,Allow you to Control the puller with few effort and training your dog...
Here is a highly effective harness that is made for dogs at work. The two metal buckles have stood up to a thousand-pound load test, so if you need your service dog to pull your wheelchair or give you support, you know this harness can stand up to the job. The no-rub design of this harness is designed for comfort, but it is also escape-proof, which is essential when training your service dog in new situations.
This harness is designed to prevent your dog from pulling when you don’t want them to, which can be one of the most difficult things for service dogs to master, especially in exciting new places. You can connect your leash to the no-pull front clip, which pulls your dog’s leg off the ground and arrests forward motion so you can control them with minimal strength.
A back clip is ideal for average walking as well as for when you need your dog to pull you. Hook and loop patches on both sides and on the back allow you to attach not only service dog patches but also collapsible water bowls, leash attachments, etc. The sturdy fit of this harness means that it is unlikely to slide from side to side so you can stabilize yourself with the handle more easily.
- Affordable but highly effective working dog harness
- Space for hook and loop patches for service dog patches or anything else
- Rub-free and escape-proof design is perfect for training working dogs
- Heavy-duty metal buckles have stood up two-thousand-pound stress test so you know they can handle your weight if your dog needs to support you
- Attachment clip at the front gives you control over your dog and prevents pulling
- Doesn’t come with pouches
- Very important to size it properly, since there isn’t much wiggle room in the neck space
- Made from the strongest materials on the market. No more frayed seems or Hook and Loop that won't hold.
- Removable patches mean you need only 1 harness for everything from grocery shopping to doctor visits.
- The only service vests that accommodate backpacks (sold separately) for food, bowls, or medications.
Industrial puppy is a well-known name and service dog harnesses for good reason. This harness has a sturdy front chest strap and belly strap along with good padding that provides a stable connection to your dog without wearing your dog down with a heavy, big harness.
This harness comes with two removable service dog patches. It can also accommodate backpacks, which are sold separately, to hold your (and your dog’s) necessary supplies like food, medications, and a water bottle.
The handle stands up firmly so that it is easy to grasp and stabilize yourself. The D-ring on the back is easy to connect your dog to and allows them to pull a wheelchair as necessary.
- Comes with two service dog patches that are removable with hook and loop design
- Welded D-ring is strong enough to hold your dog even when they need to pull you
- Attachable pouches and packs sold separately
- Weatherproof materials designed to hold up to everyday use in any weather
- Quick-release buckles and full adjustability to make it easier for you to fit it to your dog
- The light vest is a good choice for smaller dogs
- This harness may not be the most secure you can choose if you need to put a lot of weight on your dog, as it can slide from side to side
- Some people have trouble choosing the correct size for their dog
- The chest strap is made of velcro, and not as strong as it could be
- LARGE DOG MOLLE VEST Neck Girth: 24.8” - 34.6” (63 - 88cm), Chest Girth: 31.5” - 41.3” (80 - 105cm), Back Length: 11.4” (29cm). Ideal for Large Breeds such as German Shepherd, Belgian...
- MILITARY-STANDARD MATERIAL Heavy duty vest made of 1050D Nylon with sturdy stitching for extra durability and wearability, suitable for all field use. Two METAL Shoulder Buckles can bear great...
- PRACTICAL DESIGN FOR VERSATILE USE MOLLE system equipped on both sides for pouches, water bottles, and dog tactical gears. Multiple Hook & Loop Panels for morale patches and badges to showcase your...
Here is a highly effective harness for your service dog that comes at a significantly reduced price compared to the competition. This heavy-duty harness is made of 1050d nylon with very sturdy stitching that offers great durability for any kind of use.
Metal shoulder clips are strong for when your dog needs to pull you. There is extensive padding over pressure points, and it has breathable air mesh so your dog will be comfortable even when they are pulling you over long distances.
You can choose between leash attachment points at the chest for greater control or at the back when you want your dog to pull. Lots of hook and loop area gives you room to attach service dog patches or separately sold pouches and gear so that your dog can carry everything that you need.
- Durable tactical harness at a fraction of the cost of competition
- Attach pouches to the hook and loop areas so you can bring whatever you need with you
- Durable material and sturdy metal hardware make this a harness that will last for some time
- Leash attachment points at the back and the chest
- Easy to take on and off with quick-release side buckles
- Sturdy nylon webbing is both durable and breathable
- The buckle on the chest lays quite low, so that some dogs may lay on it when they lie down
- Measurements are not very adjustable, so be very careful to order the right size
- Buckles tend to loosen after significant wear and need to be tightened
- NO PULLING, NO CHAFING, NO STRESS: Minimize discomfort with this no pulling dog halter dog vest. Reduce or stop pulling with the no-pull vertical martingale loop and back D-ring clip; with no pressure...
- REFLECTIVE, SAFER: Nylon webbing with 3M reflective material ensure good visibility at night on the road. Perfect for daily walking, running, hiking, training, hunting, outdoor adventure and more
- ADJUSTABLE AND EASY OPERATE: 2 adjustable slide straps let you create a custom fit for your dogs; 2 quick release buckles for easy put on and off while providing extra security
If you don’t want to spend too much on the harness itself and don’t want to have to order patches and accessories separately, this might be the harness for you. This harness comes with the service dog label already attached.
It is designed to reduce pulling, thanks to the martingale loop. This means that you can keep your dog from pulling without making them choke or gag and without pulling them sideways. The handle is a sturdy rubber, which is very easy for you to grab and hold onto.
A belly strap keeps this harness from tilting from left to right, so you can trust it to hold you upright when you need it. Reflective stitching throughout makes it safe to use in the night.
- No-pulling dog halter with a vertical martingale loop that causes your dog to be responsive without choking them
- Sturdy plastic handle makes it easy for you to grab and hold on when necessary
- Adjustable and quick-release buckle easy for you to fit and put on and off
- Reflective stitching throughout for nighttime safety
- Comes with service dog tag already in place
- Very affordable service dog harness option
- Belly strap for stability so it won’t slide around on your dog when you need to use the handle
- Still slides on some dogs despite the belly strap
- Martingale feature does not keep many dogs from pulling and does not replace effective training
The harness that your service dog wears is very important. You don’t want to cut any corners when choosing this device, which will keep both you and your dog safe as you go through the world together.
While there are certainly cheaper options, the OneTigris Tactical Dog Molle Vest Harness Training Dog Vest gives you everything that you need in order to do everything with your service dog. There are pouches for anything that you might want to take with you, room for the “Service Dog” and other patches, and a sturdy fit that means you can put your weight on this harness without concern.
All of these features make this one of the best options for service dogs.