Setting aside the Great Harness Debate – Have you ever considered a Perfect Fit Harness for your big dog?
Well, when Indie hit his fear phase and became reactive, I wanted to switch from a collar to a harness in order to feel more secure in handling him when he did demonstrate his fear.
Naturally, I turned to facebook for recommendations and this name popped up. I was about to invest in something of good quality, I wanted strong, robust and could truly handle a powerful animal when they were demonstrating all of that power.
I narrowed my options down to the perfect fit and the ruffwear front range, and I wanted to give you the benefits of my knowledge, understanding and my professional insight. (I’ve also, since, been working on a complete listing of the harnesses I’ve trialed)
Myth busting: Harnesses Make Dogs Pull
This is something I hear a lot. Often followed by “Huskies use harnesses to pull sleds” and whilst this is true It’s also … not really the same thing? The shapes are incredibly different because they’re built for different purposes. That said? They do have the same goal, of evening pressure across your dogs body – but an everyday sort of harness doesn’t do this to the same amount as a mushing, joring or canicross harness.
So, yes, a harness is going contain your dog better than a collar, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to charge you across the park suddenly.
Let me let you in on a secret.
The only one to blame for your dog pulling? Is you.
Pulling is something dogs do naturally, and it’s something you can overcome if you put in the work and train them. If you need help on that? Head over to How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On A Leash – The Ultimate Tried and Tested 7 Step Solution
Indie’s Perfect Fit Harness
We’re using the 40mm straps with a Large – Medium – Large configuration (this refers to the back piece, the chest piece and the belly strap respectively). Indie is on kind of the medium setting for the back and tummy – whilst he is on just about as big as it gets for the chest strap.
For clarity: Indie weighs approx 40kg (90lbs), has a 21 inch neck, and a 32 inch chest. He is pretty much exactly what the German Shepherd suggestion is on the breed chart. So I can totally verify that it’s pretty solid on it’s recommendations if you know your dogs breed.
How It Works.
Okay, so this is likely the most complex harness you will ever buy – why? Because you have to fit 3 separate parts, and all of those parts come with 4 different strap widths. Complicated huh?
You have to make them work together to create the “Perfect Fit” for your dog.
Perfect fit works on the premise that a harness that’s suitable for a jack russell terrier is likely not going to work too well for a Pointer… because they have such different body shapes, motion, and even down to the needs of the harness.
So, it comes in 3 adjustable pieces, one for above the shoulders, one for the front of the chest, and one for under the chest that goes up behind the front legs. There are 5 pinch clips made of plastic (we’ve been using ours for around 2 years and I’ve noticed no sign of wear and tear on these)
This does not come with instructions, so I would also watch the video to make sure you’re aware of how it goes together (as I have seen it done wrong!).
This is the obvious winner here. No matter what shape or size your dog comes in? This harness’ modular design genuinely allows you to construct a fit for your dog, When you consider that our dogs are unique, and that even within a breed we have such enormous variation, it’s good to recognise that with the ability to get a harness that fits all shapes and sizes.
Indie is a solid dog, sure he’s not the biggest out there, but he definitely is in the larger sizes of woof, and with that? He is immensely strong when he wants to be and understands how to use his size.
This means that I need a harness that can contain, that won’t wiggle, move or flex under him. That doesn’t have points of weakness and won’t easily be opened up by play (as he does still love to play) or by trawling through a bush. This harness? Has never shown weakness, other than a mildly misshapen D-ring where many others would have failed. The construct is light but it is as strong as I could ever imagine.
It’s straps (the nylon ones that dictate the 40mm size) are also pretty much double what’s offered on other harnesses made for dogs of Indie’s size – showing PerfectFit’s dedication to strength and security.
I find it hugely practical. It doesn’t matter where we’re heading or what we’re planning on doing? This harness is going to work for Indie. Whether we’re showing off some tricks in a park, I’m doing a demonstration, or we’re heading off through a trail – this is the harness I will go to first in my mind.
Ahhhh, another branch of practicality, but, this one is really important when you have dogs. Not just for that dog smell, but for the time that your dog goes in that filthy mud puddle and has a roll around, or gone for a dip in the salty, sandy sea.
Throw this in the washing machine (I do suggest doing so inside a pillow case to minimise the clanking) and it comes out as good as new. It dries nicely too.
Note: Do not use fabric softener on your dogs attire or bedding, it actually creates air pollution and can be harmful. So just wash with fragrance-free detergent to ensure your dog is not breathing in anything they shouldn’t – no matter how tempting the smell of your fabric softener may be.
Fleece-lined anywhere it needs to be.
All three pieces are fleece lined where the main contact points are with your dog. They are soft and incredibly well stitched in too. So you know for sure that they’re going to last and that they’re not going to create rubbing sores on your dog. Yay for no friction burns!
It Doesn’t Have To Be An Over-The-Head Securing
Whilst I use this to go over Indie’s head? It’s designed in such a way that if your dog fears things going over his or her head, then this one will offer you a flexibility that most harnesses do not. Because of the general flexibility of the clips and the multiple parts, you can clip this together in whatever way your pup feels most comfortable.
Who Needs This?
There is a good variety of people who need a perfect fit harness, but I’ll address the main headliners as I see it!
For Those Learning Not To Pull.
Getting the additional front d-ring attachment creates a two point harness, which is my single favourite way of teaching a dog not to pull. So, if this is something you’re looking at? This harness is the tool I would truly recommend.
For the oddly shaped
But, for those of you who struggle to find fits, because your dog is potentially oddly shaped compared to ‘normal’ then these are perfect. The flexibility of parts and pieces of this modular harness is something that your dog is going to benefit from. So whether it’s a complicated birth defect, or just a quirky cross breed, perfect fit will have something that works for them.
For the Tri-pawed
I love seeing this, but for the dogs who are missing a leg? These harnesses still work. I mean, how wonderful is that?
For the escape artist
A well fitted harness or a perfectly fit harness, is a harness that is going to be as tough as hell to get out of. Unlike the regular harnesses that come in Small Medium and Large, these offer the flexibility to make it truly fit. That trueness means that if they back up, wiggle, or try and outsmart it? It’s going to stay in place.
That said? I would still prefer the Ruffwear harnesses with the additional tummy-strap like the webmaster or flagline.
For the Reactive dog parent
I found this harness to be my saviour – in all honesty. This harness during indie’s fear reactivity time, meant I knew I could trust his harness not to give out on me. It was never a question.
And it can be that for you too. Find one that fits properly, and there’s no real ability to wiggle out of it. There’s little chance that you’re going to find yourself with a broken clip due to poor quality. Sure it’s going to cost you a smidge more, but overall? This will last you longer and be cheaper in the long run.
I mean, that’s why it’s my rop recommended harness in here, right? Best Equipment For Large Reactive Dogs 2022
For the filth-hound
If your dog has a nose for dirt, grot, grime and all the other wonderful stuff? Then this one is for you, it washes so easily and dries quickly too. It doesn’t stain or mark, and it won’t look tired anywhere near as quick as others on the market.
Who This Is Not For.
This is for the pet parent who is looking for safety and security over good looks. It’s a very functional harness, but if you’re competing with the neighbourhood cavalier for the most fashionable pup in the town – then this harness isn’t going to win you that accolade, sorry. But it might be your preferred option for those out of town hikes!
What’s My Favourite Features Of The Perfect Fit Harness?
They have a really wonderful no-fuss policy about pieces of the harness that do not fit as designed. They’ll take them back without hesitation and send you on the part that actually fits – which I adore.
Despite being pretty complicated to start? These products are genuinely built with all dogs in mind.
They are safe, secure, strong and they last so well! They’re machine washable, they don’t have any large panels that get caught, no handles that pose risks to catching on branches or bushes. They’re well build harnesses that (to me) minimise the intrusion on your dog.
After all, I’m sure they’d love to run around with no collar, no harness or otherwise – but our world just doesn’t offer that, does it? So, if we have to keep them contained, this is a fantastic solution with minimal inhibition upon our wonderful woofs.
Is There Room For Improvement With The Perfect Fit Harness.
The first point on this used to be their website — but I’m delighted to say that they’ve changed it! (Thank you to the wonderful Lori who let me know this!) and it’s sooooo much more infinitely user friendly now. I couldn’t be happier. So, PerfectFit team, if you’re out there? Thank you so much!!
One other tweak I would make? Would be that I would love a spot for an ID tag. This is something another harness does really well and something I find lacking in the perfect fit. That said, it is a truly minor thing!
Oh! And, whilst the D-rings are incredibly strong – Indie has managed to bend one slightly. That said? In the situation we were in, it held and the leash didn’t. So… I know it’s strong! It’s just potentially something that needs to be increased a smidge for bigger dogs.
Do I Recommend It?
Abso-freaking-lutely. This one is currently my single most favourite pieces of equipment that I’ve ever gotten. This is a truly fantastic piece of kit that I rely upon. It’s gone through rivers, ponds and even in the sea, over rocks and through trees – and (other than some additional floof thanks to Indie!) it looks as good as the day I got it home.
I can’t help but be impressed with it.
It’s also why it made it as my primary harness recommendation for reactive dogs!
Where Can You Get One?
If you’re in the US, UK or anywhere around the world, Perfect fit send their harnesses from perfect-fit-dog-harness.com/ – the site is a hundred thousand times easier than it was before to place an order.
I wish I could give you a price, but given how bespoke they are, there’s a significant price range. But Indie’s cost £40 – and is one of the most expensive of their varieties and is actually £10 cheaper than the ruffwear front range! (I mean what?!)
For a close to bespoke harness? This is the best you can get.
Need help? Book In!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!