A preliminary study of the mechanical nociceptive thresholds (MNTs) of dogs showing behavioural signs of pain when wearing a harness.

10/07/2024 by in Dogs

Many assistance Dog charities rely on the use of a harness when their dogs are working in public. Additionally, more dog owners are choosing the harness as a more welfare-friendly use of restraint when walking their dogs. Behavioural pain assessment scales provide a form of standardisation(e.g Helsinki Pain Index) but can still have subjective bias. Pressure Algometry measures Mechanical Nociceptive Thresholds (MNTs) and is a non-invasive proven objective measure of musculoskeletal pain.

This study aimed to investigate if an objective measure of sensitivity to pain of the thoracic musculature is associated with behavioural markers of pain in dogs wearing a harness.


  • Dogs that show behavioural signs of pain (HPI) when wearing a harness have significantly lower MNTs (increased sensitivity to pain) of the thoracic musculature than dogs that do not show behavioural signs of pain.
  • Intervention to resolve this pain would be a good course of action when dogs require a harness as a training aid.
  • It does not support that wearing a harness is a causative factor however and more research is needed to investigate the link between dogs feeling discomfort in a harness.

Authors: Hrycak J., Charlton S., Hunnisett A.

Presented at: BSAVA Congress, March 2024 and Animal Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Conference, April 2024.