Ruffwear Webmaster Harness
It's a fast learning process having your first dog. I run a lot, so any dog we were going to get was obviously going to have to be a runner. I'd seen one or two dogs out running previously in some sort of body harness, but had passed it off as over-protective owners. Not so. Whilst it's perfectly possible to run with your dog on a lead attached to a collar there are pitfalls and dangers. I recently reviewed a running leash / lead, which has some elasticated webbing in it to allow the dog a degree of movement with increasing resistance before things go tight. This has been a revelation for running with him, but on a few occasions now he has chosen to go the other side of a tree to me meaning that we have both been pulled up short. If the lead is attached to his collar then this puts an awful lot of strain through his neck. If connected to a harness, it spreads the load much more evenly over his much stronger torso.
The Webmaster Harness is a well made affair. To put it on I get the dog to sit, and kneel or crouch in front of him so he can see me. It first goes over his head, and then his right leg needs lifting through a closed loop. The left leg loop is then created by means of a strong plastic clip which sits inside a protective little 'garage' underneath his tummy. A second plastic buckle sits a little further back to complete the assembly. The buckles are adjustable, but once initially set, they don't need much, if any, tinkering. There are three other adjustable buckles too meaning that you can set the thing specially for your dog.
The main attachment point for the lead is a metal ring sewn into the top of the harness some six inches behind the collar. Sitting just behind the metal ring is a grab handle which can be used to help guide the dog over rough ground. Whilst it is not fully load bearing and should not be used to actually lower the dog down any distance, I have found it useful for helping him scramble down some pretty steep rocky terrain on local runs which he would otherwise have stood at the top of whining.
An added bonus is that, having had dogs slip their collars in the past, there's no chance of this happening with the harness. I also like the fact that there is some reflective trim sewn into it to make it more visible at night.
In terms of comfort he has absolutely no issues with me putting it on. In fact, when he sees me take it off the hook he knows that he is about to go running and gets very excited. So far he's managed a couple of 2 hour runs on the same day, and shown absolutely no signs of discomfort or stress at wearing it.
It retails at £69.95, which is less than your average vet bill. If you run regularly, or you run fast, then it's definitely an investment worth going for.
More information on the Ruffwear website where you can also buy it.
Here's a Blog piece about our new dog.