Special Operations K9 Harness
Safety and protection is critical to Police K9, Military Working Dogs and K9 Search & Rescue, to fill this need, more and more companies offer K9 solutions to enhance the working dog capabilities. These innovative products range from cameras, vest, harnesses, eye/ear pro, doggie booties and almost anything ranging from typical pet stuff to typical products you would find for their human counterparts. The Special Operations Harness from Elite K9 available in black, tan and multicam is one of these products.
The Harness has a saddle-like design and is comprised of a 500D Nylon Cordura layer that is backed with a color matched nylon mesh material which is meant to create some airflow between the harness and the dog’s body.
The top panel of the harness is attached to the dog by two girth straps and a chest strap that are locked into place by plastic Cop-Lock buckles. (Elite K9 also offers Cobra Buckles as an upgrade feature). To put the harness on the dog, simply put the main panel on top of the dog’s body with the chest strap toward the front of the dog, run the girth straps underneath the dogs’ ribcage clipping it to the receiving ends of the buckle on other side of the harness. The Chest strap is attached in the same way across the dog’s chest. All three straps can be adjusted at this point, the harness should be tight enough to prevent the harness from shifting sideways but loose enough to allow a comfortable fit. The chest strap runs across the dogs chest to provide additional support and to prevent the harness from slipping off. This design makes it ideal for tracking and for attaching to a backline during agitation work when training in the protection phase.
Both sides of the vest is covered in 2 rows of PALs webbing for the attachment of MOLLE pouches and other accessories. Elite K9 sells a Tactical Harness Camera Adapter (MH022) that is secured to the harness via the 4 straps that attach to the PALs webbing. This attachment allows users to attach the TSE Recon Camera to the dog.
The harness has a Velcro loop panel, that is 6” wide and runs the full length of the spine of the vest, this is designed to secure the TSE camera adapter to the harness. When not in use this panel can also be used for attaching department ID tags or marking lights. The vest has 2 MIL-Spec V rings located at the front and rear which provide an attachment point for a leash or tracking line. When rappelling or fast roping these V-rings can be used to clip the dog to the handler using carabineers or straps. The 2 nylon carry handles make it easy to pick up the dog for loading into a truck or when passing off another handler.
Conclusion and Insights:
The Special Operations K9 Harness is a great product that provides modularity and versatility into a streamlined design. Weighing about 20 ounces, and rolled up to about the size of a Nalgene bottle, the harness is very packable and can easily be stowed when not in use. Military and Law enforcement users who currently utilize the TSE Recon Camera will find the adapter panel does the job quite well, however I did find that harness had a tendency to shift sideways a bit after playing around with the tightness of the girth straps I was able to minimize this a bit more. It is also possible to attach the harness over a ballistic or floatation vest as required. I found that the girth strap design could benefit from some padding as it provides a relatively small contact area when the suspending/lifting the dog. Many K9 vests designed for more extensive use in areal operations have a full lower supports to distribute the weight over a larger area. (Above, my Malinois wearing the Special Operations K9 Harness with a shotgun shell pouch attached to the side of the harness and a Vlite marking light on the Velcro panel) As a hiking pack, it can be a bit limiting depending on the pouches you find, I did manage to pick up 2 shotgun shell pouches that fit perfectly (they each can hold 2 cups of kibble).
Finding pouches that fit can be a challenge as a lot of the more common pouches tend to be longer up and down and have the MOLLE straps running vertically so they would hang down below the outer edges of the harness. Should the harness get wet, it doesn’t take long to dry and does not retain any significant water. The harness is designed to fit typical working dog breeds (Malinois, Germans Shepherds, Doberman, Labrador etc.) but should fit most dogs ranging from 40 to 130 pounds. Overall the harness is very well made, and can be used for a wide variety of training and operational applications. With a retail price of about $150, the harness is very competitively priced by comparison to other similar harnesses. (above, my dog, Zulu wearing the Special Operations K9 harness)