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Discussion Starter #1
Having trouble finding correct gear for this beast of mine.
She's about 35# and built skinny. Has the body style of a German Shepherd but petite and short, thin hair.
Her head is just as skinny as her neck, so even a too-snug collar can be pulled off easily.
We have tried about six hundred harnesses, it feels like, and own five. Only one of ours has a "proper fit" where it lays comfortably secure on the body. I prefer not to use it because it says, in big letters, Service Dog (and she is not officially trained as one yet.) Most harnesses, if going by size charts, don't fit secure (big belly band gap, or too tight on neck, etc.) and going up or down a size makes an impossible fit. She can slip out of every harness we own with a simple body flick, to give an idea of the severity.

Worse yet, we MUST acquire a good fit harness because everything we own is rubbing her raw (armpits and neck) and if my children open the front door she likes to take advantage and go chase squirrels. We are big on hiking and are often with her off leash in the yard, woods, and at family's houses, it is paramount she has tags on her every waking moment.

How do I find a better fit?! I've gone to every pet store within a 30 minute radius without luck. Size charts have proven useless.
 

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I have been absolutely coveting an Urban Trail Harness for a loooong time...but my dogs have perfectly good Ruffwear harnesses so I can't justify one yet.

They're fleece patterned and custom made so you should be able to get a good fit.

Here's a link to one:
Alpine Outfitters - Your One-Stop Shop for Quality Working Dog Gear - Alpine Outfitters We fit your dog sled needs.

They also have an adjustable one (also custom made) that you can look into if you're concerned that you're measurements may be at all off:
Alpine Outfitters - Your One-Stop Shop for Quality Working Dog Gear - Alpine Outfitters We fit your dog sled needs.


As for collars....I used to have a Lab/BC mix who had the large neck and tiny head. The only collar I found that she couldn't back out of (even accidentally) was a martingale. But those can be iffy to leave on long-term.
 

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IME traditional harnesses are much easier for dogs to slip out of vs well fitted collars. You may need to fit the collar to the top of her neck, or get a limited slip or martingale collar which allows it to sit comfortably at the base of her neck but snugly at the top so she can't slip out. If she only slips her collar when on a leash, I would use a flat collar for her tags (fitted normally) and a martingale collar for walking. That would eliminate the harness rubbing issues, the collar slipping issues, and the potential safety issues of leaving a (limited) slip collar on all the time.

If you want to stick with a harness, the ruffwear webmaster harness is generally a good idea for dogs who slip out of harnesses, as it has a third strap that fits near the end of/just behind the ribcage which can limit a dog's ability to back out. Some harnesses, like the freedom no pull harness, have a martingale action on the chest strap which might make it harder to slip out of- but I've never tested it. Can't say whether either would cause raw spots, but I can say that I don't prefer harnesses with a strap around the shoulders/chest (no pull/front clip) for longer exercise periods because they can interfere with shoulder movement and limit the dog's natural stride, so I personally wouldn't use one with that design on hikes unless I needed that specific no pull action.

I feel like collar slipping can become something of a habit/training issue. My childhood dog was a master collar slipper (you would be walking along, then feel the tiniest tug and look down to find her naked, collar dangling from the end of the leash), and once she went a period of time in an unslippable collar (martingale) and got admonished a few times for trying, she was generally fine in anything, though I still used the martingale for walking most of the time to avoid any risk of escape. For times when I didn't necessarily want the martingale action, but still wanted the no slip protection, I would put the martingale or slip collar at the base of her neck, with a flat collar above that, and hook the leash to both. That way, only the flat collar was in play, unless she started to pull it over her head, in which case the martingale would tighten.
 

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I second PoppyKenna suggestion about the urban trail harness from alpine outfitters. I have one for each of my dogs (I got the custom fit ones) and I love them. I also really like that it sits far enough back on the dog that theres no chance that I could rub in the armpits.
If you have a kind of a funny to fit dog I would suggest looking into custom made ones so you know they will fit right. Something fleece lined would be good for your guy to help with any rubbing or chaffing, finding one that has a belly band that sits further back will help too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I should have added that we generally leash walk with a rope leash, that slips around the head, rather than attaching to a collar. Or, we might hook leash to a harness if in leash-required public. Not fool proof for slipping free, as I mentioned.
She is no longer a puller. Although she won't heal as proper as a show dog, she generally is so pleasant to leash walk that my handicapped family member walked her shortly after double knee surgery. Yay training!
So, a martingale collar as an everyday collar for tags won't benefit us, because her head is that much smaller than her neck and she can remove them by simply lowering her head to slide them off lol.

Hmm, a custom fit harness must be the way to go. I would like to have a harness that is soft and comfortable, like mesh, for around home with tags on and in case she takes a stroll on her own (pesky squirrels and landlords!) Having a heavy duty harness like those links above would be great for all our outdoor adventures. Her backpack doesn't even fit correctly, so I can't load as heavy as she could potentially carry :(
 

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Hi check out www.myheadlightharness.com
This might be a kind of harness you are looking for. It adjusts to get the perfect fit, it's light weight and if you let the dog run around a lot especially at night, the bright led light will help you see your dog from far away.
 

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Whippets and Greyhounds both have small heads and large necks........the 'Martindale' collar was invented for this type of dog and when properly fitted a dog cannot slip out of it! If your dog is built like that.............a Martingale collar is the answer. As far as harnesses for deep chested dogs the Freedom No Pull Harness is said to be good..... Good Luck finding what will work for you!
 

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