Back in May, we discussed whether to use a dedicated Nose Work harness. Now we'll talk choosing a Nose Work harness, including features, and some of the available choices.
Any harness you want to use for Nose Work must have a back clip. There are two big reasons to use a back clip while searching: (1) The front-clipped leash gets tangled in the dog's legs so easily when the dog searches out ahead of the handler, and (2) If the dog reaches the end of the leash, the front-clip will pull her to the right or to the left, depending on where the leash is at the moment, likely pulling her away from odor and perhaps into an unproductive area.
To control the dog at the start line, and for a clean release, it's very useful to have a handle. Several choices below have handles.
Some of us have dogs that are big and strong and may pull us around between searches, when they're supposed to be minding their manners. Front clip harnesses are a great tool for this purpose. Several choices below have both a front clip and a back clip.
We haven't found a harness that combines all three features: a back clip, a front clip, and a handle. If you find one, please let us know. In the meantime, you'll have to choose which features are the most important for you and your dog.
A quick note about martingales when used in back clip harnesses: The martingale can be a very useful tool in teaching loose leash walking, because it discourages dogs from pulling. However, in Nose Work, we want to give the dog as much freedom of movement as we can, within the limitations of each search area. Our Labradors were bred to power through any obstacle in pursuit of a duck, and they don't seem to notice when the martingale loop tightens during an odor search. But martingales will cause most dogs, who are more body-sensitive than Labs, to have reduced drive, focus, and enthusiasm in finding odor source.
The Hurrta Harness: Active and Dazzle These harnesses have a nice handle and a back clip. Neither harness has a front clip. The Active and the Dazzle are sturdy and will last a long time. These are very nice harnesses if your dog has a medium to wide chest, and users swear by these harnesses. The front panel is a little wide, and if your dog has a narrow chest, or is a small dog, the edges of the front panel may dig into your dog's armpits.
Front Range Harness This popular Nose Work harness has both front and back clips. The front clip isn't metal, but it's very sturdy. The harness looks very comfortable, and it's so lightweight, we can almost imagine the dog forgetting that he's even wearing a harness. It has no back handle for holding the dog at the start line. It comes in six beautiful colors. This is our favorite Nose Work harness, even though it has no handle.
CTC Dog Gear Shoulder Harness comes in a wide variety of colors, including Tie Dye and Zebra stripes. It has only a back clip, and no handle. Still, it looks like an excellent harness for Nose Work.
Freedom No-Pull Harness This versatile harness has both front and back clips. However, the back clip is a martingale, which is discouraged in Nose Work. This harness has no back handle for holding the dog at the start line. It comes in lots and lots of colors.
No Longer Recommended
There are several popular Nose Work harnesses that we no longer recommend. Why? Because they impede the dogs' shoulder movement. This blog explains what to avoid, and why.
Choosing a Nose Work Harness
There are so many choices today. We've listed a few. We'd love to see you post pictures of your dog wearing your favorite Nose Work harness in the comments section. And please share with us if you have a favorite Nose Work harness we haven't listed above. We're always eager to learn.
Copyright 2015 by Linda V Fletcher