Last year, I found myself in the market for a new escape-proof harness. I’d gone through two that hadn’t held up as expected, and didn’t trust them not to break in an emergency. My big male, Irish, startles easily. He’s as likely to bolt at the sight of a parked car as he is to ignore that car entirely. He’s also perfectly capable, like most Greyhounds, of slipping most harnesses and collars in a matter of seconds should he have the mind to do it. I needed something to keep him safe. The most effective solution was a harness specially made to be escape-proof on deep-chested, lean-bodied dogs. Most of these harnesses are made by small, independent shops as custom orders, and the cost for them can add up. With the brand I had once trusted now declining in quality, it was time to search for something better.
Enter multiple Google searches, and a few Facebook posts where I polled my friends. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one having trouble. I received several recommendations, but the option that stuck with me was something I’d seen on a Google image search: the Houdini Ultra from Indi-Dog. It’s one of two Houdini offerings from the UK-based company, and is designed to combat the ability of certain dogs to get out of anything.
The Houdini Ultra has an extended back to allow the girth strap to be secured further behind the dog’s shoulders than on many typical harnesses. This extra length makes it more difficult for a dog to get their shoulders under the top of the girth strap and wriggle their way out. For many dogs, this would be sufficient, but if you have a dog determined to get loose, you may need some additional insurance. That’s where an extra strap, lying near the dog’s waist, comes into play. When properly placed and tightened, this strap is designed to prevent escape entirely. It should be just tight enough that the dog can’t back out of it.
That all sounds great, but does it work? In my experience, absolutely. For Irish, the presence of the extra strap stops the rest of the harness from riding up if he startles and pulls away. If he has an especially bad fright, the extra strap is snug enough to keep him from pulling clear of his harness until I can calm him. It’s certainly not a replacement for training or for making every effort to help Irish feel safe, but it is reassuring to know that, if I miss spotting a boogie monster, my dog won’t be in the next county before I even realize he’s slipped his lead. Just knowing that Irish is safe from bolting in a moment of fear helps me relax, which carries over into helping him relax.
You may be saying, “But I’ve seen other harnesses with that extra strap? Why this one?” Here are some of the reasons you might want to give it a try.
• The Houdini Ultra is custom made to your dog’s measurements. For me, this is great news, as Irish can be difficult to fit due to his frankly butch (by Greyhound standards) physique. I don’t have to worry about being caught between sizes.
• You can order just about any look you want, with a wealth of customization options available. Choose from 13 different nylon colors for the 25mm harness, 14 different lining options, and over 30 trim styles. An extra leash attachment at the front is available, as well as a thinner, 20mm version of the Houdini Ultra. Indi-Dog is also great about working with you on special requests. For Irish, I ordered a harness with an extra point of adjustment to help accommodate his particular needs.
• The Houdini Ulta’s price is the best I’ve found so far for this style of harness. The most basic option starts at £18.00 (roughly $22 in the US, depending on exchange rates). The add-ons are all reasonably priced, so you won’t break the bank if you choose some personalized touches.
• Both the craftsmanship and materials are of excellent quality. Indi-Dog uses soft, durable polypropylene webbing, and bonded nylon thread for a strong stitch. I chose neoprene padding for a soft, comfortable fit that doesn’t rub. You can opt for no-pill polar fleece in a variety of colors if you prefer. Each Houdini Ultra features welded nickel-plated cast iron hardware. Brass fittings are also available on request.
• Indi-Dog offers a fit guarantee and lifetime warranty against breakage from normal wear and tear on all products made in house. I can verify from personal experience that Indi-Dog will work with you to ensure your Houdini Ultra is the right fit for your dog. I suspect I’ll never need to call in the lifetime warranty, but to me, it’s a sign of Indi-Dog’s confidence in their product.
The Houdini Ultra has held up so well that I decided to order standard Houdini harnesses for all three of my dogs (read the review here). I’ve recommended it to friends, and even added a few Indi-Dog collars to my collection. Each time I’ve gone back to Indi-Dog for a new product, I’ve been impressed by the quality of service, and by the products I receive.
Does the Houdini Ultra sound right for you and your dog? Have questions I haven’t answered? Visit Indi-Dog on Facebook or at their website. Irish hopes you agree that the Houdini Ultra is worthy of a big smile.