The Best Service Dog Vest Australia - Assistance & Therapy Options
Our #1 Pick
The Best Value for Money
Rabbitgoo Service Dog Vest with Handle
Service dogs do not only provide priceless assistance to their owners, but they are often also very close to our hearts. And the least we can do to thank them for their service is to equip them with appropriate gear.
This guide is here to help you find the best service dog vest for your precious helper.
How to Choose a Service Dog Vest?
The category of service dogs (often also called ‘assistance animals”) usually includes dogs who are trained to assist a person suffering from any kind of disability. This includes ‘seeing eye’ and ‘hearing ear’ dogs, those trained to help with a variety of daily tasks and mobility issues, medical alert dogs, and even dogs who can help with certain psychiatric conditions (1).
Therapy dogs and emotional support dogs don’t always belong to the same category, depending on the legislation (2). However, they all need an appropriate vest to allow both the dog and the owner to be comfortable. Here is what to look for when choosing a vest for a service dog:
Comfort and Fit
Since service dogs often wear their vests for extended periods of time, you really want to find something that’s comfortable. With regular dog harnesses, the biggest concern regarding comfort is how the harness handles the weight when the dog pulls. With service dogs that are properly trained, this is usually not an issue, but you still want to ensure comfort for them.
This means, first of all, finding a vest or harness that fits well. The vest shouldn’t be too tight, but not too loose either. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to insert two fingers between the vest and your dog’s skin. Other than that, it’s also probably a good idea to find a vest with padding inside. This prevents any chafing from wearing the vest for too long. Choosing padding that’s breathable can also result in a more comfortable experience for the dog.
Yes, a service dog vest should be comfortable, but it should also be durable and secure. For this reason, it’s important to look for vests made from durable materials. The critical spots of every vest or harness are usually the seams and the lead attachments. Vests with reinforced seams (especially in places where different pieces of fabric meet) will generally last longer. Metal lead attachment rings also tend to perform much better than plastic.
If you are concerned with durability, it might be a good idea to look for a tactical dog harness. What makes a harness or a vest ‘tactical’ is having any functionality added besides a lead attachment. So, there is no reason why service dogs shouldn’t wear them. An added benefit is that tactical vests are usually much stronger and wear-resistant than regular walking harnesses.
Lead Attachment and Handles
As we mentioned, assistance animals can perform a variety of different tasks. Depending on their job, there might be specific requirements when it comes to lead attachment. No matter if you need front or back lead attachment or a large handle on the back, it is all possible to find. This is just a reminder to check this out before you settle on a harness.
Truth be told, it is not required for a service dog vest to have the words ‘service dog’ written on it. However, this can be really helpful. In the case of service dogs, it can help prevent strangers from petting the dog. Moreover, a ‘service dog in training vest’ is not the same as an’ emotional support dog vest’, for example.
When you go shopping for vests, they will either come with a random patch that says any of those things. Or, more likely, patches won’t be included, but you can buy one separately.
Best Service Dog Vest Australia
Ready to shop for a harness for a service dog or an emotional support dog? Below, you’ll find some great options available in Australia (and beyond).
This durable multifunctional harness from Rabbitgoo works great for all service dogs. No matter if it’s an emotional support dog, a therapy dog, or a working dog, this harness will be up to the challenge.
This is a great harness for any dog, but first let’s talk about why it’s specifically great for service dogs. First of all, it offers plenty of space for attaching velcro patches (not included). You can place a patch on either side or even at the front.
Moreover, this harness offers multiple possibilities for attaching the lead. There is a lead attachment clip on the chest in addition to the standard attachment on the back. There is also a large handle with reinforced stitching on the back, which is super easy for the owner to grab. With all these options, you can achieve any kind of setup you might need.
Last but not least, this vest was designed to be comfortable for the dog too. It features wide chest and back panels which are padded on the inside. The adjustable straps go over these panels, so there is no chance of them painfully rubbing against your dog’s skin - even if the vest is worn for a long time.
Finally, this is also an extremely well-made harness that can easily last for years. The exterior is made of quality 1050D nylon, the buckles and lead attachments are made of metal, and all the critical points feature reinforced stitching to increase durability even more.
This harness from Excellent Elite Spanker is another quality product designed for service dogs. The main advantage of this harness compared to other similar options is that it’s not too bulky. It is also more of a harness than a vest, as it doesn’t cover a lot of the dog’s skin. If you are living in a warm climate, this is great, because this vest won’t trap in heat like some other options.
Moreover, the shape of this harness allows it to fit snugly onto a dog's body, so it gives the owner great control of the dog. There is a large, comfortable handle on the back for grabbing that allows easy contact with the dog.
The shape of this harness is a bit different from what we are used to, though. The neck strap in itself is not adjustable. However, due to the shape of the harness, it is still possible to achieve a good fit by adjusting the other straps. There is an adjustable vertical strap that goes down the chest, and it is all connected with a belly strap. On the back, there is a wider panel that holds everything together. Of course, a velcro strip for attaching a service dog patch is there too!
This harness from EzyDog was not designed for service dogs, but we do think it can work great for some of them. This harness offers the necessary spot on the side for attaching a ‘service dog’ patch, it’s super lightweight and designed to be comfortable for the dog, and it has a large comfortable handle on the back. What more does one need from a harness?
The design of this harness is rather different from the standard H-shaped harness. It is not escape-proof, but for a well-trained service dog or therapy dog, we think it works quite well. The belly strap and the chest strap are adjustable so it’s easy to achieve a good fit. In addition to this, the inside of the harness features contoured ergonomic EVA foam pads that ensure the ultimate comfort for the dog, even when the harness is worn for longer periods of time.
On the other hand, the Express harness also is very comfortable to handle for the pet parent. The harness is super easy to put on using a large quick release buckle on the side. In addition to this, there is a large handle of the back for grabbing. This is one of the best handles of this type we have seen in dog harnesses. It’s not only large, but it also includes an external cover that makes it more comfortable to hold. In addition to this, there is a magnetic lock built into it that keeps the handle locked in place when not in use, so it doesn’t annoy the dog.
This harness from OneTigris is another great option for all dogs on a serious task. While this is technically a tactical dog harness, it doesn’t mean it works only for intense outdoor activities (although it certainly does work for that). It is also a comfortable and reliable harness for any service dog.
This harness features a large back piece that wraps around the dog’s body along with a fairly wide chest plate. The back is what makes this harness tactical. The sides are covered with large hook and loop panels perfect for attaching service dog patches and ID tags (also works with MOLLE pouches). On the top, you’ll find a crisscrossed bungee cord that is perfect for attaching small objects when outdoors.
The wide front panel, on the other hand, does a lot to ensure that the dog remains comfortable. It keeps the harness away from the dog’s throat and distributes any weight evenly. Both the front and the back parts are padded to keep the dog comfortable.
All of this is put together with sturdy nylon straps connected with 4 quick-release buckles. The 4-buckle system means the harness is extremely easy to put on too.
Finally, the OneTigris Tactical Dog Harness Features D-rings for lead attachment both in the front and on the back. There is a large, reinforced handle too that allows the owner to get hold of the dog easily.
This vest from Dogline was designed specifically for emotional support dogs. It even comes with patches saying ‘Emotional Support’ for both sides of the vest. This doesn’t mean this vest doesn’t work for other service dogs, or even as a regular walking harness, though. All you need to do is replace the emotional support patches (hook and loop mechanism) with anything else you want the vest to say.
This Dogline vest is also simply great for walking. The strap that goes over the chest, and the other one that goes down to the belly are super easy to adjust. Both straps are connected by a hook and loop mechanism, which is much easier to set up than standard straps! The back side features a large panel with velcro strips for patches on both sides and a large handle on the back. Both the chest and the back part are lined with neoprene to ensure the vest is as comfortable as possible for the dog.
It is not necessary to deal with the hook and loop straps on the chest every time you want your dog to wear this vest. To put it on, you can just put it over the dog’s head and attach using a single quick-release buckle.
Last but not least, this vest can make your dog visible in all kinds of conditions. There are six colour options to choose from, from classic black to neon yellow or even pink. Bright colours are not just for those who want the dog to look cute, though, but they also make your canine more visible. In addition to this, this harness features a wide reflective strip at the front plus additional reflective trim.
Choosing an Assistance Dog Vest: Final Thoughts
Not sure what to pick? Our favourite is the Rabbitgoo Service Dog Vest because it’s durable, functional, and versatile. On top of that, it’s adjustable and padded which makes it very comfortable for the dog.
If this option appears to be too bulky for your needs, then check out the Excellent Elite Spanker Patrol K9 Service Dog Vest. It’s also a perfectly functional vest for a service dog with a much simpler design.
Different dogs have very different body shapes. On top of that, dog vests and harnesses come in all sorts of forms which makes choosing the right size more difficult. This is why it’s not always useful to rely on sizes like S or XL. They simply don’t always mean the same.
To be sure the harness will fit, always measure your dog. Dog vest manufacturers will usually tell you the exact measurements that fit into a certain size. To fit a harness, you’ll usually need to measure the neck width and chest girth. The neck is measured at the base, at its widest point. In a similar way, you’ll need to measure the circumference of your pup’s chest at the widest point. (3)
Yes, anyone can go online and buy the exact same kind of vest that service dogs usually wear. However, if your dog is not a trained and certified service dog, claiming they are a service dog is largely frowned upon. This doesn’t mean your dog can’t wear service dog vests. Just make sure that the patch you attach adequately describes the status of your dog (i.e. an emotional support dog is not the same as a service dog).
This is a question frequently asked, but actually, these colours have no specific meaning. Blue and red are the most common colours used in service dog vests, probably because they look somewhat official. However, service dog vests can be in any colour, from black to pink and anything in between.
- “What is an Assistance Animal?” RSPCA. Retrieved March 9, 2021. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-is-an-assistance-animal/#ftn1
- Schade, V, June 30, 2020. “What’s the Difference Between Service Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs and Therapy Dogs?”. PetMD. Retrieved March 9, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/training/whats-difference-between-service-dogs-emotional-support-dogs-and-therapy-dogs
- PetMD Editorial. March 21, 2016. “How to Properly Put on a Dog Harness?”. Retrieved March 9, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/training/evr_dg_how-to-properly-put-on-dog-harness