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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Product Review: Blue Dog Help 'Em Up Harness

The Help 'Em Up Harness by Blue Dog Designs is a uniquely-designed mobility harness for dogs. It has an ergonomic two-piece design that includes a patented Hip Lift for the back end. An assortment of handles and rings make it possible to help a dog stand up, climb stairs, or just walk. This harness has two different designs for the back piece, and comes in four sizes to fit dogs 10-220lbs.
Photo by Erin Koski

I had seen this harness online before, and even visited the company website when I had Josie the German shepherd dog. It is easily the best mobility harness on the market, and physical therapy centers like HydroPaws use them almost exclusively.

I've owned several harnesses with handles on them, and this one is easily the most supportive. There is really nothing else like the Help 'Em Up harness, even the Ruffwear Webmaster is only a distant second choice. Most harnesses only lift the front of the dog, leaving them to support their entire hindquarters with only their back and core muscles. The Webmaster has an extra strap to help provide support for those muscles, which works pretty well for dogs with relatively short backs.
Photo by Erin Koski

The Ruffwear Webmaster has a handle situated toward the center of the back to help lift the hindquarters, but it is really intended to provide a helping hand and not for lifting the entire dog. The Help 'Em Up harness is designed for comfortably lifting a dog in a supportive and ergonomic way. It was developed for geriatric dogs, but it also extremely useful for injured and disabled dogs.

A lot of thought went into this design, and it really shows. There are buckles and adjustment points all over the place. Why so many? So that the harness can but comfortably placed on a dog that is laying down, injured, or otherwise unable to perform the movements required to get into some harnesses.
Photo by Erin Koski

The Help 'Em Up Harness is padded and comfortable. It can be worn for an extended period of time. It is machine washable. Though the harnesses are sold in front-back sets, the pieces may be purchased in different sizes for those really weird-shaped dogs. Blue Dog Designs also sells a variety of leashes that can be attached to the harness in different ways to help give a dog greater mobility.

All this quality doesn't come cheap. The price tag on this harness is $100 new, and it's not easy to find a used one. I found ours at the thrift store, in pieces. The first part I picked up was the Hip Lift rear section. Not recognizing the Blue Dog Designs logo, I had nearly convinced myself it was some weird sort of child product before I peeled up a corner of the price tag on the handle and saw the Help 'Em Up logo. It was $5. The front piece was on a different shelf, but I found it a few minutes later. It was $6. The harness appears to be brand new without so much as a dog hair stuck in the velcro.
Photo by Erin Koski

Naturally Brisbane hates it. I still had foster puppy Darla when I found it. She didn't mind wearing it at all. A friend has a disabled dog and had been considering buying a Help 'Em Up Harness for him, but wanted to actually see one in person beforehand. I was able to demonstrate how incredibly awesome this product it by picking Darla up and swinging her around in it. Naturally, Darla thought this was spectacular.

Pros: Comfortable and supportive.  Highly adjustable. Range of sizes and Hip Lift options allow the Help 'Em Up Harness to fit a wide range of body shapes. Easy to put on a non-flexible dog. Recommended for elderly dogs who have trouble getting up, for disabled dogs who do not have full use of their bodies, and for injured dogs who need extra support on the road to recovery.

Cons: Expensive for a dog harness. Large number of straps and buckles can be confusing for some users.

Bottom Line: Brisbane doesn't need this level of support yet, but it is fantastic to have this harness on hand as he ages.

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