Clinical Tool: Y-Shaped Harness

Clinical Tool: Y-Shaped Harness

TABLE OF CONTENTS
A well fitted Y-Shaped harness on a dog offers the therapist an amazing clinical tool to use with selected therapeutic techniques. This can significantly raise the proprioceptive value of the clinically reasoned treatment plan you provide to improve the dog's balance, postures and efficient movement.

Our K9HS Crowdcast Webinar Replay

A Y-Shaped harness is so much more than just a harness to use for exercise, as it's a proven therapy tool we can use to help improve each dog's balance, postures, mobility and functional tasks.

image

Canine harness choices

Appropriate harness selection is a fundamental skill in land based canine physiotherapy, canine hydrotherapy and canine movement therapies. This clinical tool can be utilised successfully to support the implementation of the dog's treatment programme, to achieve the individual set goals in response to each dog's specific needs.

Appropriate therapeutic harness choices need to be made for each dog and will depend on their breed, age, conformation, functional needs and specific role or roles. For example, a senior Labrador Retriever struggling with rising after resting, may have a different type of therapeutic Y-Shaped harness than an athletic young Border Collie competing in competition and requiring a fitness and conditioning programme.

Integrating this ability to select and therapeutically fit the correct harness style and size for the the individual dog, will optimise the effectiveness of a wide range of therapeutic canine techniques.

Supporting choices with scientific knowledge and facts of functional canine anatomy, canine biomechanics and canine behaviour in the clinic environment will lead to the best treatment outcomes for the dogs in your professional care.

The choice of clinical tools and treatment techniques responds directly to the SMART goal setting clinically reasoned by the therapist. The treatment programme is specific to each canine case to meet their identified needs. These may include sessions of rehabilitation, fitness, conditioning, weight loss or senior dog care.

🐾

SMART Goal Setting: Specific - Measurable - Achievable - Relevant - Timely.

Therapists aim to improve each dog's motion and functional abilities required for their specific land based role or roles.

Understanding the therapeutic and biomechanical advantages of using a well fitted Y-Shaped harness for the dog is crucially important. This will have a profound impact on the results you consistently achieve when an appropriate harness choice and therapeutic fit is linked to a range of high value proprioceptive techniques.

Therapy techniques such as canine Movement Enrichment techniques and canine neuro-sensory techniques have a very high proprioceptive value and are directly relevant to improving canine postures, balance, coordination and motion.

Effective treatment is based on the individual dog's assessment findings and uses a clinical reasoned approach by establishing a prioritised problem list, leading to establishing the dog's SMART goal setting. This directs the selection of specific treatment techniques to achieve the goals for the dog in your care.

Clinical Tools 001: Y-Shaped Harness fit and check.

Explore the facts

🐕

Keeping up to date and advancing skills is a professional obligation and each therapist is on their own career journey of learning. There is always something new to learn, so let's get excited and share some important facts.

Efficient canine land based movement and function is directly linked to the quality and ability of the dog's natural balanced stance, postures and motion.

Current canine movement therapy practice

In land based therapeutic work the bond and connection between the therapist and dog influences active canine participation in movement therapies.

🐕

"Animal locomotion = PROPRIOCEPTION X MUSCLE". Professor E McNeill Alexander.

By using a mindful application of selected proprioceptive enriched movement therapy techniques, the therapist can significantly impact the "rating value" of the proprioception of the treatment programme, which will significantly improve canine movement and the quality of the dog's life.

The Y-Shaped harness is an essential clinical tool for canine therapy.
image
image

Canine hydrotherapy facts

Y-Shaped harness compared to flotation jackets in canine hydrotherapy

Advanced canine hydrotherapists will clinically reason and elect not to use flotation jackets for dogs. Why? Well their clinical skills supported by scientific knowledge and understanding empowers their decisions to therapeutically fit and use a "Y-Shaped harness". This aims to optimise canine balance, postures and movement and achieve a very high rating value of proprioception each session.

In canine hydrotherapy both buoyancy and resistance are only partially influenced by water properties. The main influence is provided by the therapist using controlled aquatic manual and aquatic movement techniques aimed to improve the dog's land based movement and function.

Types of therapeutic movement work

💡

Therapists use a range of canine movement techniques utilising close body work, connected distance therapeutic work and free work.

Close body work utilised in water and on land, is a beneficial therapeutic interaction between the dog and therapist, using a mindful manual transmission through a well fitted Y-Shaped harness. 

The therapist can use Movement Enrichment Techniques such as therapeutic Harness Holds, Visual Indicators, Therapeutic Touch, Movement Shaping techniques, Therapeutic Handling techniques and Clinic Enrichment techniques integrated with a range of other treatment techniques. This significantly influences the proprioception rating value of the session and is a massively proprioceptive enriched experience for the dog.

Why choose a well fitted Y-Shaped harness?

Benefits

The therapist can easily adapt and grade their manual transmission to responsively gear their chosen techniques to be the best fit for each dog. This sensitised application method is adapted fluidly and responsively to the dog's feedback signals and postural adjustments. As the dog progresses towards a more efficient balanced stance, postures or pattern of movement, the therapist can adjust their Therapeutic Holds, Touch and techniques, as well as being able to modify the technique as the dog fatigues.

On land the dog's natural balanced motion is definitely negated by poor styles of harness which impedes the protraction phase of movement. Also a poor fit of any harness will easily take the dog out of their innate natural balance and will decrease the proprioceptive rating value of the session, so delay improvement.

Maintaining or optimising a natural canine balanced sequence of motion, balanced stance or posture in the aquatic environment is not achievable using gross buoyancy aids like a flotation jacket.

Fitted Y-Shaped harness optimising the dogs balanced stance, postures and movement when linked with Movement Enrichment techniques.
Fitted Y-Shaped harness optimising the dogs balanced stance, postures and movement when linked with Movement Enrichment techniques.
Poor style of harness impeding the protraction phase of motion and negating movement efficiency will delay progress.
Poor style of harness impeding the protraction phase of motion and negating movement efficiency will delay progress.
image
Muscles are the power generators of all movement, so choosing a poor fitted harness with a strap across the chest and shoulders or a buoyancy jacket instead of a Y-Shaped fitted harness, will limit efficient muscle activation essential for canine motion.

In canine land based movement therapies, an anti-pull harness or poorly fitted harness going across the dogs chest and shoulders will reduce the dog's ability to move in a functionally balanced and purposeful way. It will in effect block efficient movement sequences and impede the dog's protraction phase, resulting in inappropriate loading and altered top line, leading to poor quality canine movement.

In canine hydrotherapy, using a flotation jacket will negatively impact on the quality of the dogs movement by reducing the activation of the Epaxial musculature along the spine, essential for efficient canine core stability to support natural balanced canine motion. The buoyancy jacket is cumbersome and limits the dogs natural movement, head position options and will impede the dog's protraction phase of movement.

Summary

Being able to select and therapeutically fit a Y-Shaped harness is an incredibly useful skill for both land based movement therapies and canine hydrotherapy. This will optimise the dog's natural balanced stance, postures and motion.

By adding in Therapeutic Handling techniques, the therapist has transformed functional tasks into a very high value proprioceptively enriched treatment strategy, which will improve the quality of the dog's movement and abilities.

Always actively work with your dog and respond to their feedback signals, rather than applying a technique onto the dog.

The Y-Shaped harness can also be used to apply positive therapeutic sensory information to the dog's core and raise the dog's body awareness, influencing specific dermatone / s and structures.

By utilising neural accommodation techniques which map into the dog's functional neuro-anatomy and canine biomechanics, linked to Therapeutic Touch, we can significantly improve the dogs postures and functional abilities within a session.

Amazing and long lasting results can be achieved in a few sessions by a skilled therapist who chooses to use an appropriately fitted Y-Shaped harness and a clinically reasoned treatment programme.

A correct style, size and fit of a Y-Shaped harness significantly improves the quality and efficiency of the dog's natural balance, postures and movement.

Progression of clinical skills using a range of different Y-Shaped harnesses as effective therapeutic clinical tools will expand the therapist's "Therapeutic Toolbox" and offer a more complete canine service to the dogs and their owners.

Approved canine CPD choices provide learning pathways to deepen knowledge and progress clinical skills. This Accredited CPD Resource Library and the K9HS Online Bitesize Learning: Short Courses are learning pathways from a clinical perspective specifically for the canine therapist.

Different types of Y-Shaped harnesses

🐾

Below are a selection of a few different types of Y-Shaped canine harnesses.

Ttouch harness, clips in 4 different places to allow easy fitting especially good for dogs that don't like things going over their heads.
Ttouch harness, clips in 4 different places to allow easy fitting especially good for dogs that don't like things going over their heads.
Front view of Mekuti harness. These are great for small + medium breeds, but a little "scrappy" for larger breeds.
Front view of Mekuti harness. These are great for small + medium breeds, but a little "scrappy" for larger breeds.
SASS harness, these are made to measure + have fleece padding round neck.
SASS harness, these are made to measure + have fleece padding round neck.

Front view of a Ruffwear harness showing the padded sternum section
Front view of a Ruffwear harness showing the padded sternum section.

Perfect Fit harness in 3 sections which all come in different sizes and are ordered independently to create the best fit for the dog.
Perfect Fit harness in 3 sections which all come in different sizes and are ordered independently to create the best fit for the dog.
A 17 year old Border Collie wearing a Helpemup harness.
A 17 year old Border Collie wearing a Helpemup harness.
The Helpemup harness is a 2 piece design to use complete or utilised independantly.
The Helpemup harness is a 2 piece design to use complete or utilised independantly.

Helpemup harness as a complete 2 piece.
Helpemup harness as a complete 2 piece.
Helpemup harness separated into a front Y-Shaped harness and back piece.
Helpemup harness separated into a front Y-Shaped harness and back piece.
Side view of the Helpemup harness on the skeleton.
Side view of the Helpemup harness on the skeleton.
Top view of the Helpemup harness on the skeleton.
Top view of the Helpemup harness on the skeleton.

It's important to find the best fit for each dog and this will depend on a number of factors including the dog's age, breed, size, conformation, morphology, needs and behaviours.

Owner Home Plan ideas

Useful owner info examples for you;

Producing a video for your owners is a great idea to reinforce the information you pass to them in clinic. The video below discusses the different Y-shaped harnesses to consider for their dog.

Added scripted information for owners could include;

  • Y-Shaped harnesses are much better than the step in harness or anti-pull harness which takes your dog out of their natural balanced motion
  • Using the Y-Shaped harness therapeutically, means putting it on your dog during the day at random times, and not always linking it with going out for a walk! We need to stop that association so the dog is thinking about why you are putting on the harness!
  • Examples to try; put the harness on and then feed your dog, or stroke your dog as you read. This takes 10 to 15 minutes and then you would remove the harness slowly, to bring attention to the experience and this in turn sends useful information to the dogs brain
  • Creating therapeutic benefits for your dog, is like sending an email to activate your dog's computer that controls canine motion and daily functional activities. This in turn improves your dog's quality of movement

OWNER VIDEO EXAMPLE: Watch Meg's head turn and register the different harnesses and look what she signals when it is her own harness! She has ownership over her own belongings and this is why we always use our harnesses in clinic. Meg is 16 years old in this video and has a head tilt.

Useful links for some Y-Shaped harnesses

Ttouch

SASS

Ruffwear

Perfect Fit

Mekuti

Help 'Em Up

This Bitesize Resource was produced for you and is owned by K9HS Courses