When your dog is an escape artist, even a basic walk around the block can become a stressful event. In order to find the best escape-proof dog harnesses, I reached out to Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert with Rover. According to Ellis, choosing the right size, design, and materials will prevent your furry Houdini from breaking free.
“First and foremost, you need to find a perfect fit for your dog,” Ellis wrote to Bustle. Most top-selling harnesses come in a wide range of sizes, so you can find the right option for everything from a chihuahua to a mastiff. They also have accompanying sizing charts, which will be especially helpful once you’ve measured your dog around the widest part of their chest. That said, it only takes one loose strap for a dog to escape, which is why Ellis looks “for harnesses that are fully adjustable” so it’s a good fit throughout.
A great design should also keep your dog secured without restricting their natural movement. While “a lot of dogs tend to back out of harnesses when scared or fearful,” Ellis wrote, “you also want to ensure the harness doesn’t cut across the shoulders [in a T-shape, which may] reduce forward motion and abduction and lead to gait issues.” Instead, look for a “Y shape in the front.”
Finally, opt for sturdy, high-quality materials, especially if you have a particularly strong or active dog. “I require all the products I use on my dogs and my clients’ dogs to have strength-rated clasps,” Ellis wrote. The straps themselves should also “be strength-rated, but not heavy enough to weigh the pet down.”
These are some of Ellis’ direct recommendations for escape-proof harnesses — plus an affordable fan-favorite that was designed by a veterinary behaviorist.
1. The Most Adjustable (& The Dog Trainer Favorite)
If you have trouble finding a harness that’s the ideal size for your dog, opt for the Blue-9 Balance harness. It’s Ellis’ “top escape-proof harness, hands down” because “every single strap on this harness is adjustable, which means you can have a perfect fit and prevent your dog from escaping or backing out.” Ellis continued, “I also love that it doesn’t cut across the shoulders like many escape-proof harnesses, which can lead to gait and mobility issues. I have yet to see a client get out of this one!” In addition to its six points of adjustment, it also has multiple leash attachment spots, a Y-shaped neck strap, and a minimalist design, all of which prevent escapes while still allowing for a full range of motion. Get it in eight colors and five sizes.
- Available sizes: X-Small — Large
One reviewer wrote: “Best harness I have bought for my dog. I bought size small for my 25 lb standard Dachsie, and it fits well. Easy on and off, not restricting his shoulders, and clipping him on the back is enough to keep him from charging out. It really does feel like it holds the dog in a balance of sorts.”
2. A Padded Pick That’s Great For Adventures
The RUFFWEAR Web Master harness is a direct recommendation from Ellis: “This harness has an extra strap that goes near the rear of the rib cage. The extra connection is where the belly gets smaller, and by having a strap there, even the Houdini of dogs can’t manage to get out.” It also has more than 4,000 reviews and a 4.7-star overall rating on Amazon.
People love its sturdy aluminum leash attachment, reflective trim, and padded handle — and since it’s rugged and quick-drying, it’s suitable for all types of adventures (not just walks around the block). Last but definitely not least, since it’s adjustable in five places and comes in five sizes and three colors, it works for most dogs.
- Available sizes: XX-Small — Large/X-Large
One reviewer wrote: “This is the best harness, ever. The extra buckle at the flank keeps my Basenji, who is a Houdini, from wriggling out. […] Numerous times with other harnesses I am left holding an empty leash/harness but not with this one.”
3. The Best Harness For Dogs That Pull
According to Ellis, the “Sleepypod Martingale is the first harness of its kind where the top D ring is on a martingale to prevent your dog from pulling and escaping.” There are no narrow straps that dig into a stubborn dog, and this one uses soft, body-conforming, breathable mesh, which holds your pet back without chafing or cutting in. Finally, Ellis wrote, “the wide Velcro that goes around the rib cage is extremely strong to ensure it doesn’t release under any pup pulling and allows you to get that perfect fit by making it as tight or loose as you need.” (Ellis also points out that “they make this same harness for cats, which are the ultimate escape artists.”) It comes in five colors.
- Available sizes: Extra Small — Medium
One reviewer wrote: “My chi-min pin is a harness escape artist and she can’t get out of this one and loves to put it on! Great harness!”
4. The Best Budget Harness
Finally, there’s the PetSafe Easy Walk harness, which is the best option under $20. Even though it’s a fraction of the price of the others on this list, it still has over 22,000 reviews and a 4.4-star overall rating — and it was created by a veterinary behaviorist. Despite the price, it still features a martingale loop, multiple adjustment points, and secure chest strap. It’s also lightweight to prevent dogs from overheating, but many reviewers still swear it prevents escapes. Choose from a ton of different sizes and colors.
- Available sizes: Petite — X-Large
One reviewer wrote: “Too good to be this cheap. […] When I had it recommended to me by several frequent dog fosters, I assumed it would set me back at least 4 times the price I found here on Amazon. [… My dog] had previously escaped from her top-mount harness, by suddenly pulling backward and slipping her legs out. There is no such escape route with the Easy Walk.”
Nicole Ellis, professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert with Rover