When taking your dog outside for a walk it is important to keep it secured to a leash. Most dog owners use collars or choke chains but these items can put excess strain on a dog's neck and may end up choking it. The safer option is to use a dog harness vest which distributes the force of the leash equally along the dog's neck, back, and shoulders. Look for a dog harness vest at your local pet store or consider making one yourself using soft cotton fabric.
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Things you need
- 1 yard cotton fabric
- Measuring tape
- Pencil or dissolving ink pen
- Large metal ring
Purchase one yard of cotton fabric in a colour or pattern of your choice. The ideal fabric is somewhat thick and pliable but not stretchy. Iron any wrinkles out of the fabric and lay it out on a flat surface or cutting table.
Take your dog's measurements to determine the appropriate size for its harness vest. Wrap a measuring tape loosely around the dog's neck and around the widest part of its body. Measure the length for your dog's harness vest by measuring the distance from the base of its neck halfway down its back. Record these measurements on a slip of paper.
Draw out the pattern for your dog's harness vest on the back side of the cotton fabric using a pencil or a dissolving ink pen. Begin by drawing a vertical line the length of the measurement down your dog's back.
Draw a horizontal line perpendicular to the vertical line using your dog's neck measurement. At the other end of the vertical line, draw another horizontal line using your dog's body measurement. Both lines should be centred with the first vertical line and the results should look like a sideways capital "H" shape.
Rotate the fabric so that the neck measurement line is furthest away from you and the body measurement line is closest to you. Sketch in the straps that will go around your dog's neck and body using the two horizontal lines you just drew. Create a rectangle out of the neck line by drawing a two-inch vertical line toward you starting at each end of the neck line. Connect the two-inch lines with a horizontal line parallel to the neck line.
Create a second rectangle using the body measurement line by drawing a 3-inch vertical line away from you starting at each end of the horizontal line. Connect the ends of each line with a horizontal line parallel to the first horizontal line.
Make a mark in the very middle of the first vertical line and draw a horizontal line centred on that mark. This new line should equal half your dog's body measurement.
Make a small mark on each side of the bottom of the neck strap two inches toward the centre. Make two similar marks on the inside line of the body strap four inches toward the centre on each side.
Connect the marks made on each side of the centre line by drawing an arc from the mark on the neck line to the mark on the body line. The centre of the arc should hit the ends of the horizontal line drawn in step seven. The shape you have just drawn will serve as the body of the harness.
Cut out your pattern and hem all edges using a 1/4-inch seam. Cut an additional 1 1/2-inch strip of fabric using the measurement taken down your dog's back and hem all four sides. Loop the finished strip through a large metal ring then fold the fabric strip in half and sew across its width about a quarter inch from the ring to secure it.
Sew one half of a 2-inch strip of hook-and-loop fastener to the outside of the neck strap on one end and the other half to the wrong side of the fabric on the other end of the strap. Following the same procedure, sew one half of a 4-inch strip to the outside of one end of the body strap and the other half of the strip to the wrong side of the fabric on the other end of the strap.
Sew the fabric strip made in step eleven down the centre of the dog harness to reinforce the spine and to attach a leash. Pin the fabric strip in place and begin sewing from the ring out toward the edges. You will need to sew the strip on each side of the ring separately.
Put your dog's harness on by laying it flat against the dog's back. Lightly wrap the neck strap around your dog's neck and secure it in place with the hook-and-loop fastener. Using the same procedure, wrap the body strap around your dog's body and secure it in place. Hook a leash or lead to the ring on the spine of the harness.
Tips and warnings
- The width of your neck and body straps can be adjusted according to the size of your dog. If your dog is small or medium in size, use the measurements outlined in the procedure. If your dog is large, add an extra inch or two to the measurements. Adding to the width of the neck and body straps will not change the overall size of your dog's harness.
- To make hemming your dog harness easier, you may choose to draw out the three sections of the vest separately. If you choose to separate the neck and body straps from the body of the vest you will need to add an extra 1/2 inch to the width of each strap to allow for a 1/4-inch seam on both sides.
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