Picture of a dog in a step in harness

Best Step in Dog Harness (Chosen By a Vet) (November 2022 Reviews)

I really hate putting a harness on a dog. It’s a little embarrassing, but I find it really tricky to get the harness fitted right (or even facing in the right direction if I’m being honest). Plus my dog is a 90 pound, 1 year old Bernedoodle who is a giant ball of energy and is not fond of putting on harnesses or collars.

Getting the right harness is a stressful process. I’ve read a ton of dog harness reviews and unhappy customers usually have a few common complaints:

  • The harness doesn’t fit right
  • It slips off
  • The material frays or breaks with use

These are all kind of nightmares if you’re a dog owner right?! It’s not just about having to get a new harness: these are legitimate safety issues if your dog gets off the harness at the wrong time (or hurts their neck or back because of the wrong fit).

For the right dog, a step in dog harness can really solve a lot of these issues. But for the wrong dog, they can make them worse.

For that reason, we asked our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg (who created our free course on raising a healthy puppy, some of the insights from which you can also find in our free new puppy checklist) to review the top step in dog harnesses on the market and make her recommendation for the best models for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Best overall
  • Best budget
  • Best padded
  • Best for small dogs
  • Best for large dogs

You’ll leave this post confident you can purchase the right step through harness for your pup.

What’s The Best Step In Dog Harness?

The short answer is that Dr. Whittenburg chose the Gooby Comfort X Step in Harness as the best overall step in harness due to the patented X shape to avoid choking and putting pressure on your dog’s neck.

Our Top 5 Dog Step In Harnesses

Below Dr. Whittenburg’s top picks. Compare the ratings and key features of each of the harnesses to decide which one is the best car harness for your dog.

Vet’s Picks Model Rating Material Closure Type Notable Feature
Best Overall Gooby Comfort X Step in Harness 4.4 Micro suede; nylon strap Buckle X Shaped Design
Best Budget AIITLE Pet Supply No Pull, Step in Adjustable Dog Harness 4.2 Nylon Buckle Reflective strips
Best for Small Dogs Voyager Step-In Plush Dog Harness 4.6 Plush corduroy Pull On Soft & warm plush fabric
Best for Large Dogs EcoBark Step in Dog Harness 4.6 Neoprene Buckle Padded vest with recycled straps
Best for Escape Artists PUPTECK No Pull Dog Harness 4.2 Nylon Buckle ID tag included

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy a Step In Dog Harness?

  • Owners who don’t want to use a collar on their dog (often out of concern for your dog’s neck and trachea if they’re a puller) should opt for a harness generally.
  • If your dog has an issue with getting a standard (aka adjustable) harness on, a step in harness may be a good alternative. Standard harnesses go on over the neck of your dog, where as a step in is obviously something they step in to so it may be more comfortable for the dog.
  • Dogs that are the right shape for a step in harness – you want to think about the fit for the harness as it relates to your dog’s shoulder blades and use sizing charts to make sure the harness will work for your breed and the size of your dog.

Who Should Not Buy One (Step In Harness vs. Regular Harness)?

  • Some step in harness owners report issues for small dogs particularly who are “wigglers” being able to escape from some step in harnesses.
  • The opposite of the above points are obviously also true: if you’re someone who prefers a collar as a tool for teaching your dog not to pull (which is a theory some dog trainers subscribe to) you won’t want a harness, and if your dog fits better into an adjustable harness a step in harness won’t be right for your dog.

This is a great video walk through of things to think about in selecting the type of harness that’s right for your dog:


And, if you are looking for a step in harness, below are some additional tips for making the right call from our vet advisor Dr. Whittenburg.

“Step-in dog harnesses should be made out of high-quality, durable materials. The fabric should be soft and breathable for your dog’s comfort. Depending on use, you will want to ensure that the harness has the leash attachment sites you desire. A harness with multiple adjustment points may be the best choice for oddly shaped dogs. “

How Much Does a Step In Harness Cost?

Between $10 and $25

Step in harnesses cost roughly $10 to $25, but most tend to run closer to the $10-20 range, depending on the style of harness, the size harness you’re buying, and what material they’re made from.

Budget-friendly harnesses are a less-frills option that are typically still effective. A more expensive dog harness option often features tougher materials, additional points of adjustment for a more customized fit, or may have extra attachment options (some of those listed here have ID tags as well, for instance).

Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily

“Comfort and security are the most important features to look for in a step-in dog harness. When we test products we look for comfort and security, even in selecting the best budget options. If you have questions beyond what’s covered in this post, I suggest speaking to your veterinarian, other dog owners, and reading the product reviews for guidance.” – Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, DVM.

The Best Step In Dog Harnesses: Full Reviews

Pros
  • Available in 5 sizes
  • Step in design to avoid putting harness over dog’s head
  • 4 points of adjustment for the perfect fit
  • Patented X shape to avoid choking and putting pressure on your dog’s delicate neck
Cons
  • Multiple owners had issues with the harness tearing or being easily chewed through by their pet.
  • Multiple owners mentioned their dogs being able to easily escape or slip out of the harness, particularly for dogs that are aggressive pullers (and smaller dogs with a difficult fit).

The Gooby Comfort X Step in Harness is the best overall step in harness according to Dr. Whittenburg.

The X shaped harness is very easy for most dogs to step into – if you’re opting for a step in harness because of issues with your pup getting an adjustable harness on, or you want to keep pressure off your dog’s neck and chest. this is a great option.

Overall the harness gets relatively strong reviews (though not the best reviews on this list – that’s the Voyager and Eco Bark):

A screenshot of product reviews for the Gooby harness

The negative reviewers mention specific issues with the harness, including:

  • Durability- Multiple owners had issues with the harness tearing or being easily chewed through by their pet.
  • Escapability – Multiple owners mentioned their dogs being able to easily escape or slip out of the harness, particularly for dogs that are aggressive pullers (and smaller dogs with a difficult fit).

That said each of those are common complaints across harnesses in general and particularly for step in harnesses and many customers are very happy with the quality of materials and the X shaped approach, which is why we recommend this harness even more highly than the standard reviews.

Pros
  • Made with soft, breathable mesh material for your dog’s comfort
  • Reflective material for safety in low light
  • Vest-style step in fit is easy for putting on and taking off
Cons
  • Some customers complained about the fit of the harness (being too big or too small for very small dogs)
  • Some customers complained about the quality and durability of the harness

The AIITLE Soft Dog Harness and Leash Set is our best budget pick.

It feels very light-weight but does have some padding and breathable mesh. It’s geared towards small to medium sized dogs, and is a vest-style harness (we prefer the X shaped design of the Gooby harness but this design may be a better fit for some dogs).

Overall the harness gets reasonable reviews for the price, but is the worst reviewed of those in this post:

Screenshot of AllTLE step in harness reviews

The negative reviews tend to center around a few core issues:

  • Some customers complained about the fit of the harness (being too big or too small for very small dogs)
  • Some customers complained about the quality and durability of the harness

All in all this is a good option for budget-conscious customers looking for a step in harness.

Best Padded

Voyager Step-In Plush Dog Harness – Soft Plush, Step In Vest Harness for Small and Medium Dogs by Best Pet Supplies – Chocolate Suede, XL (Chest: 20.5 – 23″)

[pros title=Pros]

  • Padded and made of push, soft corduroy – keeps your dog comfortable
  • Reflective bands on the sides of this harness enhance your pet’s visibility in low light
  • Easy to put on and take off step in design
  • D-rings and buckles to add safety and security

[/pros][cons]

  • The harness being difficult to fit to a dog is the biggest customer complaint
  • If your dog is particularly furry and gets tired in the heat the material is relatively heavy and thick

[/cons]

The best padded step in harness is the Voyager Step-In Plush Dog Harness.

This is by far the heaviest and most substantial harness on this list. Obviously the corduroy material makes the harness feel much more durable and it has additional features for durability and security like multiple buckles and a D ring attachment.

Below is a video of the Voyager being put on a medium sized dog:

The Voyager is tied for the highest rated harness among those listed here:

Screenshot of Voyager Step in Harness reviews

Complaints from customers who had issues with the harness included:

  • Fit was the main complaint from upset customers, with some dogs having a tough time getting into and staying in the harness.
  • One customer also highlighted that the material stretched over time, so be ware of fit over the life of the harness

All of that said, if you’re looking for a padded step in harness we highly recommend this one.

[amazon-box banner="Best for Small Dogs" asin="B096MY9S97" title="EcoBark Step in Dog Harness "]A step in harness specifically designed for small breed dogs.

Pros
  • Specially designed for small breed dogs
  • Made from soft and breathable fabric for your dog’s comfort
  • Specialized safety buckle for added security
  • Designed to not put pressure on a small dog’s trachea
  • Available in 32 different colors/patterns
Cons
  • The most common complain was that the size chart didn’t map correctly to dogs’ sizes, and that some dogs have a difficult time fitting the vest
  • Additional complaints were that the vest was escapable (again mainly because of fit issues) and the harness chaffed the dog.

The best step in harness for small dogs is the EcoBark Step in Dog Harness.

This is a much smaller, lighter harness that’s specifically designed for much smaller breeds.

The Ecobark harness is tied for the best rated harness on the list in terms of ratings:

A screenshot of Ecobark step in harness reviews

Customers who had issues with the harness had a two common complaints:

  • The most common complain was that the size chart didn’t map correctly to dogs’ sizes, and that some dogs have a difficult time fitting the vest
  • Additional complaints were that the vest was escapable (again mainly because of fit issues) and the harness chaffed the dog.

All in all for smaller dogs this is a great option.

Best for Large Dogs

PUPTECK No Pull Dog Harness Soft Adjustable Basic Nylon Step in Puppy Vest Outdoor Walking with ID Tag

This adjustable step-in harness comes with an engravable ID tag, heavy duty D-rings, and a wide chest strap for comfort on larger dogs.
Pros
  • Available in 10 colors and four sizes
  • Adjustable straps for the perfect fit
  • High quality nylon fabric with high density webbing to add durability.
  • Wide chest strap for comfort on larger dogs
  • Metal, engravable ID tag for identification
  • Plastic clip closure and two heavy duty D-rings for added security
Cons
  • Issues with dogs escaping the harness
  • Issues with dogs chewing and destroying the harness (it’s just straps, not as thick as some of the other harnesses listed)

The PUPTECK No Pull Dog Harness is our top pick for step in harnesses for large dogs.

This harness has a lot less material than the other options – when you pick it up it’s light, and feels like collar material fastened into a harness. It’s a particularly good fit for larger dogs due to the four adjustments, wide chest strap, and the fact that it has less material while still being made with high density webbing for durability.

PUPTECK No Pull Dog Harness is on the lower end in terms of reviews out of our best harnesses:

Screenshot of Puptek step in harness reviews

The biggest complaints among customers who had issues with the harness included:

  • Issues with dogs escaping the harness
  • Issues with dogs chewing and destroying the harness (it’s just straps, not as thick as some of the other harnesses listed)

All in all if you have a larger dog who doesn’t have issues with wiggling out of harnesses and chewing on the harness, this is the perfect harness for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Step-in harnesses better?

Like most things it depends on the dog. Step in harnesses are great for dogs when you want to avoid pressure on the neck and trachea and your dog has trouble with pull over harnesses.

What is a step-in harness for dogs?

A step in harness for dogs is a harness that your dog steps into that’s applied from below rather than being pulled over their head.

How do step-in harnesses work?

You lay down the step in harness, and have your dog put their paws into the harness as instructed (different step in harnesses will be designed and work slightly differently).

What is the best step-in harness for small dogs?

Our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg selected the EcoBark Step in Dog Harness as the best step-in harness for small dogs.

How tight should a step in dog harness be?

A step in harness should be tight enough that the dog can’t escape but not so tight that it pinches the skin. Different styles of harnesses will fit differently.

Can a dog get out of a step-in harness?

Yes – dogs can get out of any harness given the right circumstances. The best way to avoid a dog getting out of a harness is picking one that’s comfortable enough that the dog doesn’t hate it, and snug enough that the dog won’t escape.

What is the difference between a Roman harness and a step in harness?

The biggest differences are that the Roman harness pulls over a dog’s head while a step-in is put on from the bottom, and a Roman harness is typically better for dogs that pull while step in harnesses are better for smaller dogs that don’t want a harness pulled over their head.

Conclusion: The Best Dog Car Harnesses

If you’re looking for a step in harness for your dog, here are our top picks (chosen by a vet):

For more on dog harnesses, including everything from how to measure your dog for a harness and how a dog harness should fit to the best escape proof dog harnesses, check out or series of posts:

And our individual harness reviews:

And our breed-specific harness guides:

Thomas Demers
Tom is a managing partner with Pet News Daily. He has been writing and researching on the web for over 10 years. He owns 3 dogs, 3 cats, and is a huge animal lover. His current obsession is working on training his (currently very good but very poorly behaved) 87 pound, 1 year old Bernedoodle named Pinecone.