How to Make a Custom Dog Harness

Make a custom dog harness in a few hours!

The one shown is fully adjustableand can be used for walking on leash, bikejoring, dog scootering, rollerjoring and skijoring.

Adjustable DIY harness - the leash attaches to the D-ring on the back end.

After getting your materials together, there are five steps to making the harness:

  1. The Harness Collar
  2. The Tie Piece
  3. The Body Strap
  4. The Top Strap
  5. Assemble Harness Pieces

Materials – Nylon Webbing

Below are recommended sizes. However, you may end up going with a different width in order to match the hardware. 

I used 104″ (2640 mm) of webbing for Comet, who weighed 72 lbs. Since I couldn’t find all the hardware to match 1″ webbing, I bought the 1 1/2″. It looked a little wide but worked fine.

Tip: Sear cut webbing with a flame source to prevent unraveling. Pinch the ends smooth with a wet sponge to avoid burning your fingers.

Small3/4″ (19 mm) wide72″ (1830 mm) long
Medium1″ (25 mm) wide96″ (2135 mm) long
1 1/4″ (30 mm) wide108″ (2745 mm) long
Extra Large1 1/2″ (38 mm) wide132″ (3350 mm) long

Materials – Hardware

As mentioned, these items should fit the width of your webbing.

Please note that metal sliders and buckles will be stronger and therefore better for larger dogs.

  • Four plastic or metal sliders
  • A plastic or metal buckle
  • A metal D-ring
  • A metal circular ring


Comet getting measured for the collar part.

Step 1 – The Harness Collar

The collar goes around the dog’s neck and the ends attach to a metal ring at the baseof the neck.

This is the simplest part to start with when you make a custom dog harness.

Measuring and cutting the webbing:

  • Drape the webbing over your dog’s neck at the withers.
  • Pull the ends forward across the dog’s chest, and pin them where they cross each other in the middle just above the dog’s breastbone
  • Measure 6 more inches (150 mm) for each end past this crossover point. 
  • Cut the webbing and sear the ends.

Add a slider to end of the webbing:

  • Push the webbing up from the bottom through the first slider slot.
  • Push it down from the top through the second slot.

Attach the webbing ends to the ring:

  • From underneath the ring, push the webbing up and through.
  • Double each piece of webbing back, thread it through its slider, and pull tight. The loop should hold firm when you tug on it.

Step 2: The Tie Piece

Stitching pattern to use when sewing webbing to hardware

When you make a custom dog harness, the tie piece goes between the dog’s legs toconnect the front section of the harness with the rear part.

  • Take a piece of webbing 9 to 15 inches long (300-380 mm).
  • Thread a slider on one end, make a loop and put the loose end through the slider again.
  • Push the other end through the circular ring used in Step 1. Go from the top side and loop it back about one inch (25 mm).
  • Sew the webbing on to secure this end.

Tip: If you use matching color thread when you make a custom dog harness, irregularities in sewing won’t be apparent. The white thread I used was for a demonstration.

Step 3: The Body Strap

  • Drape the webbing over your dog’s back, right behind the front legs.
  • Pull till snug and overlap the ends by about 3 inches (75 mm).
  • Cut off extra webbing and sear the edges.
  • Sew one end of the webbing to the receptacle part of the plastic or metal buckle by looping the end through about 1 inch (25 mm).
  • Thread the other end through the prong end of the buckle.
  • For a plastic buckle, push through the slot closest to the prongs first, then double back through the second slot.

Tip: It’s easier to adjust if the loose end of the web is to the outside.

Step 4: Top Strap

  • Take one end of webbing and make a big loop through the D-ring (Rear section).
  • Put your Body Strap through that same loop.
  • Leave about 1 inch (25mm) of web end past the items in the loop.
  • Sew this loose web end in place using the cross-and-rectangle pattern.
  • Next sew a line right next to the D-ring to anchor it, making sure NOT to sew through your Body Strap.
  • Attach the fourth slider to the other end of your Top Strap.
  • Loop this end around the upper part of the Collar and put it back through the Slider with the loose end on top so you can pull on it to make adjustments.**

**Recommended modification:

Secure the Top Strap where it loops over the Collar by sewing it in place, once you have gotten a good fit on your dog. That part tended to slide badly to one side when we tried it on Comet.

Step 5: Assemble the Harness

  • Pass the receptacle end of your buckle from the Body Strap through the loop from the Tie.
  • Buckle it up.
  • Adjust the fit.
  • Lock sliders in place by passing the loose end of webbing back over the end of the slider closest to it and threading it through the second part.

Tip: To complete the harness, pad areas where webbing or hardware might dig into your dog. A piece of sheepskin or shoulder pads from ladies garments make great padding. Just cut to size, sew the sides and sew onto your harness where you want them. Or use pieces of foam at least 1/2 inch (12mm) thick, cover in fabric and attach.

Putting on the Harness

  • Push the loop end of the Tie between your dog’s legs.
  • Thread the Body Strap through this loop.
  • Adjust harness for a snug but not tight fit.
  • If you like, tuck remaining ends back into the sliders to keep them from flapping, or
  • If you’re sure your dog won’t grow or you won’t need the harness for another dog, you can trim ends – just remember to sear them.

Tip: After you make a custom dog harness, it’s time to have your dog get used to it. Comet regarded his as a no-pull harness because he wasn’t used to having pressure against his chest when he strained at the leash. However, he ignored the pressure when he saw a cat or deer and that’s when we wished he had a cart behind him!