Harnesses are a great tool to keep your dog safe and give you better control when walking them, but not all dogs like to wear them.
To teach your dog to like wearing a harness, you must give your dog time to get used to it. Then, you can have them wear it around your house where they are comfortable. Finally, you should test the harness outside while taking your dog to their favorite place.
In this article, we will teach you how to introduce your dog to a harness so that they can like wearing it. We will tell you everything you need to know so that they aren’t scared by the harness and you can make the switch to a harness with ease.
As a long-time dog owner, I have walked dogs with both collars and harnesses. Harnesses are known to be safer for dogs and make it easier for owners to handle the dog while walking. Some dogs feel uncomfortable while wearing the harness if you don’t introduce them to it properly. Keep reading to learn the best way to teach your dog to like their harness.
How Do You Teach A Dog To Like A Harness?
Harnesses are a great alternative to a simple collar for walking your dog. Collars are important for carrying identification information for your dog. However, if your dog pulls hard on its leash or makes sudden movements, collars can cause neck injuries and be dangerous.
Not all dogs like harnesses, though. Some dogs feel anxiety or fear when something constricting like a harness is put on their body. The best way to reduce this fear is to let your dog get used to the harness before forcing it on them.
Introduce The Harness Before Putting It On The Dog
Before even trying to put the harness on your dog, just let your dog sniff it and check it out first. Remember to give your dog a treat when they show interest in the harness. This will reinforce to them that the harness is a good thing and that it is okay for them to like it and show interest in it.
When you introduce the harness in this way, they won’t be as scared when you put it on them.
Have Your Dog Wear The Harness Inside Your Home
The first time your dog wears its harness, don’t take them outside for a walk right away. Let them hang out in your house for a while. Give your dog time and space to get used to wearing the harness before taking them outside where there are a lot of other distractions.
When you first put the harness on your dog, they may walk differently for a little while. They may lift their legs higher when taking steps or anything else. This is normal and is just how they are getting used to wearing the harness.
Take Your Dog For A Walk On Their Favorite Route
Once your dog is used to wearing the harness on their body around your house, you can try to take them for a walk outside. Most dogs will have no issues with making this transition and will happily walk with the harness.
Some dogs may not like wearing the harness for walks. In this case, try to take your dog on their favorite route or to an exciting place for them. If your dog is usually okay with changing up your route, you could take them somewhere new so that they have plenty of places along the way to explore. This can help distract them from the harness.
If your dog likes routine and usually does best when you walk along the same route, then keep them comfortable. You won’t want to make too many changes at once. After a few walks, your dog should have no problems with its harness.
Don’t Leave The Harness On Your Dog All The Time
An important thing to remember is to take off the harness when you aren’t walking. While your dog is getting used to the harness, they can wear it around the house. However, after this period they should only wear the harness when going for a walk.
Harnesses are not the most comfortable things for your dogs to wear, so they shouldn’t have them on all the time. Most dogs get used to wearing a harness for walks but might start to find them annoying if they have to wear them all the time. You might even find that your dog tries to chew the harness off if they have to wear it for too long.
One way to remember to take the harness off is to simply keep the leash attached to the harness. That way, when you come home from a walk you can just remove the harness and leash together. By doing this, your dog will be more comfortable.
Give Plenty Of Treats And Praise
Throughout the process of introducing the harness and having them wear it, be sure to give your dog plenty of treats and praise. This affection and positive reinforcement will ensure that your dog shouldn’t feel scared or uncomfortable with the harness.
With lots of praise and treats, your dog may also start to ignore the harness more quickly than if you put the harness on and then ignored your dog to let them get used to it on their own.
Benefits Of Using A Harness
While some dogs are completely fine with being walked with their leash attached to their collar, many dogs benefit from using a harness instead.
Dog harnesses in general are safer for the dog from multiple perspectives. Dogs that pull on their leash could potentially hurt themselves when the leash is attached to their collar. By attaching the leash to a harness instead, pressure is taken off of the dog’s neck and placed on other parts of their body instead.
Additionally, harnesses are much more secure than collars. If a dog is wiggly and pulls hard, it could easily slip out of a collar and get loose. With a harness, dogs are less likely to escape from their owners, making them a much safer option.
Finally, harnesses give the owner or handler more control over the dog. Large or strong dogs can pull their owners and feel in control of their walks. With the right harness, the owner can stop or slow down their dog more easily.
What Harness Should I Get For My Dog?
In general, any harness that takes the pressure off of the dog’s neck is an improvement to a collar. Traditional harnesses clip in one place on the back of the dog, between their shoulder blades. This is great for getting pressure off of their neck. However, this might not be best for dogs that like to pull on the leash while walking.
Harnesses that clip in the back are attached in a perfect spot to give your dog the comfort and power to pull extremely hard. With this traditional type of harness, your dog may be able to pull you hard on the leash. Today, there are a lot of different types of harnesses on the market. Harnesses that clip in the front or multiple places on the dog’s body give the handler more control while walking.
No matter what type of harness you decide to choose for your dog, you should follow the same process for getting them used to wearing one. The biggest difference between types of harnesses is in the place where the leash connects. To the dog, all of these harnesses will feel similar.
Front Clip Harness
Harnesses with a front clip relieve pressure on the dog’s neck and prevent them from pulling. When the leash is attached at the front of the harness, the handler can easily stop their dog and get them to turn around, since the leash is putting pressure on the dog’s chest.
While walking, the person holding the leash can simply stop walking. Since the leash is pulled to one side of the dog’s body, the dog will be pulled to that side rather than continuing to walk forward. This can help break the dog’s concentration on a distraction or stop them from pulling and is an excellent choice of harness.
Dual Leash Connection
Some harnesses have both front and back clips. By getting an extra-long leash with clips on both ends, dog owners can have much more control over their dogs. With this style of harness and leash, you can walk your dog by primarily holding the section of the leash attached to the back of the dog.
When you see an approaching distraction, you can pull your dog around to face you by pulling on the section attached to the front of the harness. This type of setup can be easy to get tangled up in, so be careful of your dog’s legs and be prepared to untangle your dog from the leash a few times while you are getting used to it.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright