After being sent to Wounded Warrior while in the Marines, I got a lot of first-hand experience with service dogs and gear they wear.
I was blown away by how helpful they were to their handlers. I saw them recommended for all kinds of injuries and health conditions like PTSD, vision impairment, seizures, depression, movement restrictive rehabilitation, etc.
Service dogs are true real-life sidekicks and there for their owners whenever they need them. That said, even the best dog needs a quality vest or harness to do their job properly.
A service dog vest lets everyone know that your dog isn’t just a pet. On top of that, a good vest will allow you to attach and carry important items, keep your dog comfortable, increase control over your dog, and make your dog look like a total badass.
When you enter the vest market it can be a bit overwhelming, as there are a ton of options. The good news is I have met a lot of service dogs and know exactly what features they and their owners like!
I sorted through dozens of vests to compile the list below.
- Here is a List of the Best Service Dog Vests in 2020
- 1. Industrial Puppy Harness (Best Value)
- 2. OneTigris Dog Vest (Best Tactical Vest)
- 3. Petjoy Dog Harness (Personalized)
- 4. RuffWear All-Day Harness (Best Seller)
- 5. BarkOutfitters Vest Harness (Cheapest)
- 6. Icefang Tactical K9 Dog Harness (Fan Favorite)
- 7. LifePul Front Clip Dog Harness (Sleek and Simple)
- 8. Ruffwear Secure Harness (Multi-Purpose)
For me to just say “hey this one is the best” is a little tricky because when it comes to choosing the best vest for service dogs it depends on what you’re planning on using the vest for and the size of your dog. Some vests have features others don’t, but I’ll cover all that in more detail below.
Just below each vest I’ll list the pros and cons and tell you what the vest is best used for. Then below the list of vests, I’ll show you some cool accessories and attachments you might want to think about hooking your furry friend up with.
There are a ton of cool products to choose from. I usually recommend tactical dog vest styles with molle attachments and/or d-rings because they greatly increase the functionally of the vest.
After reading this review I’m confident you’ll find the best service dog vest harness for your furry assistant!
Emotional Support Dog/Animal – This doesn’t have to be a dog. I read a story about a girl trying to get her Peacock on an airplane saying it was her emotional support animal. As you can imagine the Airline and other passengers were not thrilled! Emotional support animals are only for mental health disabilities and require the prescription of a doctor. If you’re looking for a good emotional support dog vest we have a lot of good ones on this list.
Therapy Dog – A Dog that is registered with a therapy dog organization that provides testing and liability insurance. These dogs provide emotional support for people going through hard times in their lives and can help lift their spirits. It is common to see therapy dogs in nursing homes, hospitals, and many other settings.
Note: The First two categories (emotional support dog and therapy dog) do not have public access rights because they are not covered under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA is a federal law that gives the handlers of service dogs the ability to have the dogs with them in public places because they are considered medical equipment.
Service Dog – A dog is specifically trained to accomplish tasks that help mitigate the handler’s disability or disabilities. They’re especially useful for people with disabilities like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), visual impairment, seizures, or other qualifying health condition. People are often disappointed that emotional support is not a task that qualifies a dog as a service dog. A dog for emotional support would be a psychiatric service dog. There are organizations that breed and train service dogs, but you can also train your dog privately. Characteristics of service dogs include good temperament, discipline, and trainability.
Molle – (Pronounced “Molly”) Is an acronym that signifies “Modular Lightweight Loadbearing Equipment”. Simply put, this is the tacticool strappy velcro stuff you find on tactical gear such as military and LEO vests! They are constructed of heavy duty denier nylon woven in very tight rows that is far superior to traditional velcro. A good example of this would be magazine pouches. Pouches with velcro can be easily attached and detached onto the Molle system, allowing for quick customization of your loadout and easy access to your gear.
Many combat veterans claim that Molle systems are much more efficient for carrying essential equipment than stuffing it all in pockets or a backpack. Molle isn’t just for servicemen, though. Molle systems can be found on backpacks, holsters, clothing, and especially on service dog vests! This allows a handler to quickly attach and detach gear to the vest, allowing the dog to carry extra equipment, food, water, etc!
Here is a List of the Best Service Dog Vests in 2020
1. Industrial Puppy Harness (Best Value)
Note: This vest is available with and without the attachable/detachable side pouch (It costs about 5 dollars more with the pouch).
It’s made by the Industrial Puppy company and is probably the best bang for your buck at a price point around or under 25 dollars. It is one of the top rated and best service dog harnesses on the market.
Let’s talk about some of its features. The vest is available in 3 different styles, including the standard vest with a pouch or without or the dog in training model. I’ll put links to all of them below, so you can find the one that best fits your needs. The top of the vest has a sturdy handle to control your dog, get up after a fall, or help you make up hills.
You can buy the vest with (costs about 5 dollars extra) or without the detachable backpack pocket. If you’re someone who would like to carry your medications, keys, wallet, documents, dog treats, or other essential items on your dog, I recommend getting the vest with pockets combo. Just think, with the pouch you won’t have so you won’t have to carry poop bags on you any longer! I recommend following the size chart on the product page to find the vest that will best fit your dog.
The vest has removable patches, which make it a nice vest for when your dog is on or off duty. You can also use the same vest if your dog is currently in training but eventually becomes your working dog. The patches and straps are reflective, which is a great way to make you and your dog a little more visible to others, which is particularly important at night. The vest is good for dogs of all sizes, even extra small dogs.
The only con I see is that it’s a little bulky for very small dogs.
- Durable and comfortable
- Breathable Mesh Material with removable patches
- Large buckle and sturdy handle
- Strong D-ring for leash
- Multiple colors and sizes available.
2. OneTigris Dog Vest (Best Tactical Vest)
If you’re looking for a tactical dog vest this one by OneTigris is hard to beat. I’m not 100 percent positive it’s the exact same vest, but this looks like the vest a lot of Marines had for their service dogs when I was at Wounded Warrior Battalion. Let me cover some of the features that set this vest apart.
It comes with three detachable and reachable pouches that easily Molle onto the vest in your preferred location. There is also room for you to buy custom attachments and pouches to carry a water bottle, food, or any personal items you’d like. The mesh harness vest has good ventilation, so you won’t have to worry about your dog overheating on those hot summer days.
It has a penal on the top of the vest and on the pouches for morale patches. It has 2 handles (one in the front and one in the rear) and 2 strong metal rings on the front and rear. The package includes the harness vest, 1 sundry bag, 1 zipper bag, and one first aid kit.
I recommend pairing this vest with the OneTigris bungee leash here as well as this collar here. I think after reading reviews on this tactical dog harness vest you’ll be totally sold!
Some minor cons are that it’s a little pricey and there is no small size available.
- Strong breathable mesh
- Lightweight and sleek design
- Detachable accessory bags
- Heavy duty v-rings
- duel sided molle webbing with hoop and loop panel
- Multiple colors and sizes
3. Petjoy Dog Harness (Personalized)
This is the highest-rated vest on this list. The most notable feature about this vest is you can get your dogs name embroidered right across the top. If you do plan to order this vest you have to let the seller from Amazon know that you want it personalized. There are two fonts available (block and script). Block is the default font, so if you would like a script that is another detail you will have to let the seller know.
The reflecting piping will keep you and your dog safer at night. The left side and top of the vest have patches that are firmly sewn on for you. They are not removable, so if you’re looking for a dog in training service vest you would want to check with the seller to see if they can swap out the words “service dog” with “In training.” They may even be able to sew on “therapy dog” if that’s something you’re interested in.
The vest has D rings to attach leashes and a modular back system for accessories. You can even attach a backpack to the top of the bag. There is a quick-release buck that makes the vest very easy to get on and off.
A con to consider is that the patches are not removable.
- Personalizable and high rated
- Right sided swivel clip
- Patches on top and left side
4. RuffWear All-Day Harness (Best Seller)
If your furry little friend likes to get out and run, hike, or just be super comfortable this is a great harness. The entire inside of the harness is padded, including the area behind the legs which seems to be the part of the harness that bothers dogs most. The front range harness is more comfortable, safer, and stronger than a standard collar. Getting it set up and on your dog properly is a breeze with the 2 buckles. A lot of dogs can leave dogs harnesses irritated.
There is an ID pocket on the vest, so your dog will always have identification on them. There are two lease points. One on the top and one on the front near the chest for additional control.
With this vest, you know what you’re getting. Ruffwear takes a lot of pride in their attention to detail because they know how important your dog is to you. The vest is available in many colors you can check out through the link below. There is also sizing information, so you can find one that’s just the right size for your dog.
- Comfortable everyday harness
- Two lease attachment points
- Durable, ID Pocket
- 4 adjustment points
- A strong aluminum V-ring attachment point
- Front attachment for training
- Easy to take on and off.
5. BarkOutfitters Vest Harness (Cheapest)
If you’re just looking for a quality harness at a good price, then this is a good option. This vest is for sale on Amazon and has over 1500 five-star reviews.
This is even a good option for smaller dogs. You can purchase additional tags that say “in training” if needed. They are also for sale if you search this brand on Amazon (they measure 2 by 6 inches if you’re planning on buying a different brand). Whether to tags say service dog or in training, they will clearly let people know that this is a service dog and not just a pet.
Along with the harness, you get 50 ADA cards in-case any questions you for having a dog in their establishment. The cards include your legal rights as the handler and penalties for not complying to the law which states you can have your service dog anywhere.
One small con is that there is no molle functionality or pouches
- Minimalist and sturdy vest
- Detachable tags
- Comfortable neoprene lining
- Made in the USA
- Reflective lettering and strap
- Multiple colors and sizes
6. Icefang Tactical K9 Dog Harness (Fan Favorite)
Available in 5 sizes and 5 color configurations, this is one of the most basic but versatile tactical dog vests on the market and its offered at a very attractive price point!
One of the first things I noticed with this vest is just how well it’s made. I expected it to be a little on the cheap side since it isn’t very expensive but I was certainly surprised as to how incredibly strong the clips and points of attachment are.
Looking back at the ad, I’ve found that the buckles are rated up to 1000lbs, the metal V-ring is rated at 1200lbs, and the plastic buckles are rated for 250lbs. This vest also comes with plenty of MOLLE on all sides of it, making the attaching of gear and/or patches a breeze.
The vest is also purpose built with a no pull design, ensuring that using a leash won’t solely focus on the point of where its attached but more so guides the dog through pressure given throughout the entire harness. This is proven to make the dog a lot more comfortable and responsive.
- Extremely durable buckles, rings, and attachment point of contact
- Sizing and colors for every dog
- Incredibly durable 1050D water resistant nylon construction
- Soft padding and no pull design for a comfortable experience
7. LifePul Front Clip Dog Harness (Sleek and Simple)
For those of you who appreciate a sleek and simple design, LifePul has you covered! With reflective accents riddled all around the vest and adequate padding for your furry friend, this vest is a top choice, especially for service dogs. There are four attachment points and the vest is fully adjustable, making for growth resistant product! There’s also a lay flat handle on the top that equally distributes the weight throughout the entire vest, making the dog especially comfortable compared to most other dog vest design when picking the dog up.
The vest is particularly comfortable for the dog and includes nickel plated hardware, ensuring it doesn’t rust or degrade. I’d recommend this as one of the best low profile dog vests for service dogs or your cardio workout partner!
The only real con I read about:
Some people have reported that their dogs don’t enjoy the straps touching their ears when putting the harness on
- Reflective attributes all over the K9 vest
- Easy and adjustable design that is especially comfortable for the dog
- A really strong but comfortable top pull handle that distributes weight evenly around the harness
- Breathable nylon construction with thick padding on the inside
8. Ruffwear Secure Harness (Multi-Purpose)
Ruffwear is known for making some of the best service dog harnesses on the market. I like this harness because it is so versatile and designed for comfort. There are two leash attachment points, one located in the middle of the best in front of the hand and the other in the far back.
The padded handle is very comfortable and strong and gives you a strong hold on your dog. The padded straps are designed to keep your dog comfortable for long walks, runs, or hikes.
A lot of vests are hard to adjust to fit your dog properly. The vest might be snug in one area and lose in another. You won’t run into that problem with a Ruffwear vest. This one has five adjustment points, so you can rest assured your dog is super comfortable and secure. The vest also has a beacon light attachment point (sold separately) so you can attach the light for increased visibility at night.
- Very Comfortable
- 5 adjustment points and 2 attachment points
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Beacon light attachment point
- Aluminum ring with reinforced webbing connection
- Many colors and sizes
Service Dog FAQ
How can I get a service dog?
Option 1: Going through a program.
This is the route I recommend for most people. It can suck if you have to wait for a dog because there is usually a waitlist, but even if you decide on the second option on this list it will still take a long train. There are a lot of organizations that train service dogs and pair them with a handler. If you decide to go this route, make sure they have a return policy if the dog doesn’t end up being a good match because they can be quite expensive! Make sure you look for a reputable organization that has good reviews because there are a lot of scams. Most reputable programs will have a waitlist because it can take years to train a dog properly. A good organization will also do some background research to make sure your home is a good fit for the dog and that you do in fact have a disability.
Assistance Dog International (ADI) has a good search tool where they list accredited service dog programs. You can do a search on the ADI website here.
Option 2: Owner Trained
This can be a lot of work, so ensure you’re ready for some serious dedication in both time and effort if you choose this route. Training your own service dog can also be expensive, hence why so many people either prefer taking them to a dedicated training center or obtaining a dog that is ready to roll. Make sure you find a dog with good temperament and is likely able to accomplish the tasks you need them for. Many dogs don’t end up working out, so it can be a lot wasted time if your dog doesn’t isn’t fit for serving. There are a lot of training materials online to help guide you to train your dog and there are private training you can hire.
Do I qualify for a service dog?
To get a service dog you must have a health condition that disables you. The definition of disability is a physical or mental condition that limit’s a person’s movements, senses, or activities. A disability is best diagnosed by a doctor. If you have a health condition you are wondering about, it’s a smart idea to talk to your doctor if a service dog is a good option for you.
Can my dog be a service dog?
Maybe, there is no one black and white test, breed, or standard to determine if a dog can be a service dog. Service dogs must be able to help you accomplish tasks that mitigate your disability. Your dog will need to be well behaved and be able to learn to meet your individual needs. The best route to go is to enroll your pups in a dedicated training course.
What is the Difference between a Therapy Dog, Service Dog, and Emotional Support Animal?
At the top of the page, I listed the definition of and explained the differences between a service dog, therapy dog, and emotional support dog. Each has different types of training and attributes which may lead one to offer low quality in one of the categories but be a pro in another.
What are the Pros and Cons of Service Dog
The Pros: Service dogs are usually very well behaved and can greatly increase one’s quality of life. They can give handlers back their confidence and independence, but they can be a lot of work!
Cons: People will be constantly approaching you. When they see a dog with a service vest with all kinds of cool patches and gear they will want to know more. Occasionally, this is fine, but it will get old fast and your dog may be distracted or uncomfortable with receiving attention from strangers. You also want to make sure you can handle the financial burden of having a service dog. You will have additional expenses like veterinarian fees, food, dog vests, and other gear such as the vests we’ve discussed in this article! Having high-quality gear is extremely important to have a good service dog experience.
Getting a Service dog can be a big lifestyle change. You might want to talk to a current service dog handler about things to consider before acquiring one. No matter how well behaved and how much training they’ve endured, they are still animals that need love, attention, and cooperation. There are a lot of YouTubers that share their experience and can give you a lot of good information.
What Makes a Service Dog a Service Dog?
There is no official certification or identification for service dogs. If an organization is trying to sell you a piece of paper be very cautious because it’s most likely a scam. The only qualifying factor that makes your dog a service dog is that it is trained to mitigate your disability. There are a lot of organizations that sell IDs and paperwork but know these have no legal standing. Some organizations may ask for your dog’s ID or certification, but it’s because they’re not properly educated on the matter. You do not need any official paperwork.
What Questions Can Someone Ask About My Service Dog?
I actually found this sign posted at a business by my house. As you can tell business owners aren’t always thrilled about pets in their establishment, but most don’t mind service dogs because they are typically well behaved and necessary for the handler.
Remember that only business entities can ask you these questions, not random people. They can ask if the service dog is required for a disability and what task the dog is responsible for. They aren’t allowed to ask you any personal questions. Some business owners are ignorant of the rights that you have as a handler.
I recommended printing out your rights and keeping them in your purse or on your dog. A lot of vets also come with ADA cards explaining your rights and that you can have your dog anywhere you go if it is truly a service dog. ADA cards are nice because they are short and sweet and usually if anyone is throwing a fit that settles it.
Military Service Dog Info
The Office of Veterans Affairs is very interested in the benefits that service dogs can provide veterans, particularly those suffering from PTSD. I know a lot of veterans that got service dogs for free! I’m not exactly sure where they got their dogs from, but I will say they were some of the best trained and behaved dogs I have ever seen! If you’re a veteran with PTSD I recommend checking out the VA press release for service dog information here.
The Good and the Bad Things About Having a Service Dog
The bad news is many people are taking advantage of the system and passing their dogs off as service dogs. The good news is that business can ask the “fakes” to leave. They can also ask you to leave with your dog if your dog is causing problems. Also, lying about a dog being a service dog is becoming illegal and can even lead to jail time! Hopefully, this will deter people from doing this in the future.
What are some benefits of using a tactical dog vest?
Aside from making your dog look like a total badass. are a ton of benefits of tactical vets and harness, which is why they’re used by law enforcement, military personnel, hunters, and civilians alike.
#1 Improved Behavior
When you put a vest or harness on a dog it is very stimulating to them and they know they’re doing something important. It’s strange but a lot of people report their dog’s behavior improves once they put the vest on. Along with making the dog behave better those around the dog treat them different. They know this dog is important and working not just a pet that they should come up to and try to play with or distract.
#2 Increased Control
Sometimes even the best dogs can get a little rowdy, especially when you’re dealing with adolescent dogs who still may have some aggressive tendencies. A good tactical dog vest will allow you to control your dog by lifting, pulling, or holding them in place. We all know how hard it can be to control a wound up dog with just a standard collar.
If you get a good tactical dog vest you can make a ton of customizations. You can get all kinds of attachments, so you can basically be hands-free while your dog carries all your necessities. The best part is, the dog loves it! Dogs love physical exercise and knowing they’re doing something important. The only way they won’t like it is if you get them an uncomfortable harness or vest.
When you’re training your dog a vest or harness is a must-have. You have to be able to control them without causing injury.
You might think dogs don’t like vests because they know they’re going to have to work, but actually, it’s completely the opposite. Often when you pull out the vest they will get excited because to them it’s more like playtime.
Where can I buy a service dog vest?
There are a lot of places you can pick up a vest. There are some stores that sell them like PetSmart and Petco but buying them off Amazon is probably the easiest place to buy one and they have the largest selection to choose from. I recommend reading verified customer reviews before to see what other handlers liked and didn’t’ like before you decide on a vest.
What makes a Tactical Dog Vest “Tactical”
Basically, to make a vest “tactical” it just needs to have functionality outside of just being able to attach a leash to it. Most tactical dog vests have Molle straps, pockets, places for morale patches, and are very heavy duty. I put a few of the highest rated ones that are for sale on Amazon on the list above.
What are some things I should look for in a good Service Dog Vest?
Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re the for the best service dog vest for you.
Strong Lease Attachment Point
The number one thing I see people complaining about with cheap vests is that the least attachment point begins to tear. It makes sense, this is the area on the vest where the most force is applied. A lot of quality vests and harness with have reinforced anchor points on them. All the leashes I put on this list have strong anchor points.
Your dog is going to be working hard to keep you safe. The least you could do is make sure they’re comfortable. You want to for a vest that is comfortable and breathable. If you can find a vest or harness with padding in the leg area that’s a big plus. A lot of times the vest will chafe against the dog’s legs and become uncomfortable over time.
Make sure the best is made of a breathable material, so the service dog doesn’t overheat. This is especially important if you live in an area that is always hot and sunny like Florida. The last thing you want is to have to help your dog when you’re the one that supposed to be getting help from them.
A Strong Handle
I think it’s kind of self-explanatory and I’ve already covered it above. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so I’ll sum this up in one sentence. A good handle will help you control your dog if they start to get rowdy, and help you get up if you fall.
Large buckles if you have trouble with dexterity or weak hands. You also don’t want to get a cheap service dog vest with a buckle that will jam or break after a few months of use.
Number of Adjustment Points
To get the vest to fit properly you’ll want to make sure there are adjustment points, and especially one that wraps around the belly area. It’s nice if they have some elastic on them so you can get a really snug fit without being uncomfortable for the dog.
Don’t get in the mindset that the higher the price the better the harness or vest. The most important thing is to look for a product that is made by a reputable company with outstanding customer reviews. There is so much information out there, so don’t just buy something without doing a little research.
You don’t want to get a vest that only has a pocket on one side. I mean, think about it, carrying things on just one side of the body gets annoying. Your dog can shift the weight around, so they’ll be counting on you to make sure their vest is set up properly.
Molle attachments or d rings and d rings
A tactical vest is nice because you can attach and customize your vest. The Molle strap passes through the mesh webbing on the vest and secures with a fastening button. Having a d ring will allow you to attach items and a pull strap if needed.
Note on Molle Straps: The best way to attach a pouch or other item with Molle straps is to weave the Molle over and under each piece of webbing. Some people just slide it through and fasten the button, but this is not as secure.
You may want to attach pouches to carry small personal items, medications, medical information, or notes from doctors in case anything happens.
Just because a product isn’t on this list doesn’t mean it isn’t a good choice. There are a ton of products out there, but I did my best to find the best service dog vests possible and some good accessories for you. All the vests on this list will also be great as emotional support dog vests and hiking/camping companions!
Let me know if you have any questions or recommended products below. It’s always good to hear your thoughts.
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Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.