Being a pet lover, I’m sure you care about your dog's health, wellbeing and safety above all else. This is why harness training is so important. A harness is often the best option for your dog, especially if your four-legged friend is a bit of a puller. In these instances, using collars is dangerous, because it compresses the structures in the neck. This is especially dangerous in breeds such as Yorkshire terriers, which are predisposed to a collapsing windpipe, a condition which can eventually be life-threatening. Another example of harnesses protecting the safety of your pet is when they’re out on the lead, before they are trained to walk off lead. Having a harness on your dog, and therefore good control of them, means you can avoid hazards such as an aggressive dog walking around off lead or environmental hazards such as steep drops. These are hazards that your young pup may not be aware of as they’re just a baby working out how the world works. Therefore, it is extremely important to train your pup to wear a harness from a young age.
Another reason why there’s no excuse not to harness train your pup is that it’s super easy. Most dogs will take to a harness well, with few exceptions. Puppies can be taught to wear a harness practically from day one as well, as you’ll get your pup at a minimum of 8 weeks of age. Give them a chance to settle in for a few days and then start teaching them. Wearing a harness will also come in handy in the car as you can strap them in with a doggy seatbelt, another example of why harnesses are better than collars and how it will keep your pupper safe-- it is also a legal requirement in many places to have your pup either strapped in or in a crate during car journeys. Although it’s best to teach your fluffy friend when he’s young, older dogs that are more set in their ways can also be taught this trick with relative ease and getting them used to the harness should take a few days at the most.
To get started, you’ll need a quiet environment for your pupper to learn. Try playing with him first to wear him out a little, but not too much as you don’t want him to take a pup nap. You’ll need a comfortable, well-fitting harness. It’s well worth investing time and money in finding the correct one, as the last thing you want to do is cause your pup any discomfort. You’ll want to buy one from a reputable pet store or manufacturer of dog harnesses. And of course, you’ll want some tasty treats to reward your pooch when he’s a good boy and accepts the harness well.
All dog harnesses that I have tried so far cover his "hackles". Do you know of any harness that is open backed? Probably stupid question but as you can see all harnesses will crush his fur when he is excited.
Hello Check, That partially depends on what you are wanting the harness for - off leash work, walking, service dog work, ect...Most harnesses that go further on the back will encourage pulling for mobility assist service dogs. To help with off leash work and walking the harness generally needs to have support in that area of the back but some have more padding and will lie more on top of the fur than others, so you could minimize how much pressure was put on the fur. Check out the harnesses linked below. Most will still will crush some of the fur but not as much as some harness will and as long as the harness is made with good material, the fur should be fine once the harness is removed again as long as it's not being worn 24/7. https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/507065?originalProduct=83814&productId=1401706&attrValue_0=Blue&pla1=0&mr%3AtrackingCode=C451DA02-BFE7-E511-80ED-00505694403D&mr%3AreferralID=NA&mr%3Adevice=c&mr%3AadType=plaonline&qs=3136884&gclid=CjwKCAiA9JbwBRAAEiwAnWa4QywHrwLFzDX-nwm4uMf27zqL8R0KbpRKWNkc7Ah0M0-KrWOfw5qFIxoCMHcQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds https://boldleaddesigns.com/shop/everyday-working-harness/ https://www.2houndsdesign.com/product/black-freedom-no-pull-harness/ https://www.thinbluelineusa.com/products/dog-harness-thin-blue-line https://www.petexpertise.com/halti-front-attachment-no-pull-harness/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My puppy was okay wearing his harness and sweater and now I can’t get him to stay still while I put it on. He squirms out of my arms and backs away. I’ve been working with him since Monday on having him eat treats off of it and giving treats for sniffing it... keeping it in his play area on the floor even. But he still backs away if I try to touch him while near it or try to touch him with it - not even putting it on. I’m getting frustrated as I haven’t taken him outside in almost a week!! I don’t know what else to do except force him into it again. I wish I desensitized him to it first before just putting it on him. He has a step in harness as he’s only 3.5lbs and I was worried about one going over his head. The sweater he’s wearing in this picture goes over his head and I hurt him getting it off the first time.
Hello Ashley, First of all make sure that it still fits him correctly and is not chaffing or constricting him too tightly somewhere. Since puppies grow fast, it can happen easily and that can keep a puppy from getting over his fear. Most likely he just remembers being hurt when you put it on before. When you feed him breakfast or dinner, whichever meal you have more time during, hold the sweater out so that the head opening is at his level in front of him. Hold a piece of his food in front of the sweater to entice him to come toward the sweater to eat it, and keep repeating this with pieces of his food until he stays next to the sweater to get the next piece, without running off between. When he will stay by the sweater instead of dashing away between pieces, then put the piece of food through the sweater head hole just a bit, so that he has to reach slightly into the sweater to get it. Practice this at meal times until he will put his head through the sweater hole to get each piece of food without dashing away from that too. Keep the sweater still while you do this. As he gets more comfortable, hold the piece a little further away through the sweater hole, so that he has to put his head further and further through the hole, until he is wearing the sweater. Start saying a command when you hold the piece of food through it at this point, such as "Get Ready!". Try to sound cheerful when you say it. Focus on just teaching him to put his head through the hole at first. When he can do that willingly, then touch his harness buckle or his belly or chest and give a piece of food every time that you do. Do this to get him used to having straps and fabric adjusted also. You can practice this with both the sweater and harness, but only do one object per meal time. Feed him his entire dinner or breakfast, or both, one piece at a time this way for several days. Try to stay cheerful and relaxed while you do this. Purchase a martingale collar and walk him on that without the sweater while you are still training him to get used to the harness and sweater again, if you can. The martingale collar will tighten just a bit to keep it from slipping off as easily as a buckle collar, and his fur should keep him warm if you do not have snow yet. You may need to make your walk a bit shorter though if the weather is under fifty degrees where you are. You can also try a different coat and harness combination. Choose ones that look different than the current ones. If you go this route, look for something more like a puffy vest rather than a sweater so that it will look different, and perhaps a padded harness for better comfort. Look for ones that are easy to put on and comfortable, and when you introduce them, start out by doing the meal treat feeding exercise above, to get him used to cooperating with you and enjoying the outfit from the start. Also, in general work on handling exercises with him. After you get him used to the sweater and harness again, continue working with him to get him more and more used to being touched and handled. To do this, get his dinner or breakfast kibble or small treats, touch an area of his body, like his ear, mouth, paw, tail, or belly, and every time that you touch something, give him a treat. Repeat this for a couple of minutes every day until he is a year old. Most puppies start out enjoying touch, but many will become less tolerant and some even start to bite when touched if you don't continue to help them enjoy it. This is also helpful for trips to the vet's, groomers, small children, nail trimmings, baths, and taking care of injuries. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My dog loves going for walks and i have no problems when the harness is on... what i have trouble with, is putting the harness on! I think she thinks i'm playing or just gets too excited as she bites me the whole time while putting it on. Any advice how to avoid this behavior?
Hello Daniela, Check out the video linked below to teach him to cooperate with the harness and make sure he is not feeling uncomfortable with it being put on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn5b8u1YS_g Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My long haired chihuahua is a little bundle of energy, he loves to play in our backyard, run around and chase toys. But he’s tried to get away from us twice now and we simply can’t take him out without his harness anymore. We were trying to acclimate him to it very slowly, but we can’t risk him getting away (our yard is enclosed, but he’s trying to go around to the front of the house where there’s road access). He doesn’t mind the process of putting the harness on, and he doesn’t back away from it when I bring it out (he actually wants to chew it), but once it’s on, he becomes immobile. Our playful little pup becomes sulky and lethargic. Treats don’t do much to entice him, he doesn’t even care about his favourite toy. We’ve tried luring with high value treats, making very minimal progress, we run around and act very animated trying to get him to engage with us. I’ve taken him out to visit the city center and meet my colleagues at work, which he loves. Attention from strangers is awesome to him, but as soon as I put him on the ground, he freezes up and lays down. At the office, he showed signs of wanting to engage with my colleagues, but he just wouldn’t let himself get up and play with the harness on. As soon as I took it off, he got up and went from person to person, getting petted and loved on, and he was back to happy, playful Yogi again. We only put his harness on to go outside as I couldn’t take watching him act depressed around the house for hours. What can I do to get him to love life in his harness and actually move around when he has it on.
Hello Emily, I would actually consider using a different harness or making sure the fit is correct. If the particular harness you are using is putting pressure on certain spots, limiting mobility, or causing discomfort, some dogs will refuse to walk because of the way it feels. This is most common with many no-pull harnesses or cheap webbing harnesses that cut into the armpit areas. In these cases I generally recommend switching to a better harness (if the model is the issue), such as Ruffwear's front range harness - which is padded and doesn't restrict movement but can be clipped at the back for long leash training or at the front to help with pulling issues. The Ruffwear Webmaster harness or a similar well-made but less expensive brand of the same type of harness - is my favorite harness for escape artists. Before you buy another harness I recommend adjusting the size if that could be an issue (style of harness is more likely an issue since sizing issues are generally more obvious but stick your fingers through the harness to check tightness, inspect under the arms for signs of rubbing, ect...). If another harness or re-sizing don't help, I suggest using something that also prevents escaping but is less restrictive like a martingale collar (better than a buckle collar but a harness is still safer). If you switch to a martingale collar you definitely need to work on the running off (which is always a good thing to work on anyway). Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below - this would be taught in your fenced-in backyard on a martingale collar at first for safety reasons. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Continue taking pup places that he loves - like around people as you did before. Doing that regularly should help him get over any dislike of future harnesses if any comfort issues are removed from the situation. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My boy Boba has been through training and is getting ready for his CGC. He does fine on a collar, but he doesn’t seem to respond well to a harness. I bought him 3 different harnesses so far, the Ruffwear (2 models and sizes), and the Charlie’s Backyard Easy Harness, which he took to all of them immediately, but when he’s in any harness, he would start pulling and refusing to walk at times. When he was walking on his collar, i always have loose leash and even when he pulled lightly, all I needed to do was saying his name, and he came to me immediately. I know harness is better for dogs, and I really want to switch him to harness, but I can’t seem to control him in a harness as compared to him in a collar. Please help
Hello Jeany, A backclip harness actually encourages a dog to pull. I only recommend them for escapees and off-leash trained dogs. When a dog feels the pull back on a back clip harness, their natural response is actually to move against the harness and to pull even harder - like a sled dog on a team. Many no pull harnesses work by constricting a dog's shoulders, which the dog might try to resist. I suggest working on off-leash heeling using a long leash and the Turns method from the article linked below, so that pup is really staying next to you because he is focused on you and not because of the pressure of the harness or leash, then it shouldn't matter whether you use a leash or harness, and honestly I would just use a collar at that point because it's easier and shouldn't cause any neck issues if pup isn't pulling to begin with. To pass the Canine Good Citizen, I suggest working on the Turns method with either a collar or a front clip leash, like Ruffwear's front range harness if that's one of the ones you have, but see if you can only use your body to correct pup's pulling and keep the leash loose the whole time. Especially practice cutting 90 degrees directly in front of pup as soon as pup starts to move his muzzle past your leg. Don't worry about bumping into pup a little when you do this, he should learn to stay a bit further behind you to avoid a slight bump next time, just be sure not to step on his paws. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Every time i put the harness on my puppy . He literally freezes and refuses to move . What should i do ?
Hello Mayling, First, spend time showing pup the harness and giving treata each time they touch or sniff it. Next, put the harness on pup but loosen it a lit so that it doesnt constrict pup at all. Leave the harness on for up to an hour, sit a few feet away and temp pup with treats, balls and tug toys, but act calm and confident during this time. Pup needs time to adjust to the feeling of the harness and decide to move. If pup still wont move after the hour, take the harness off and try it again three more, separate time. After that if pup still hasnt moved, you will need to try switching to a harness that doesnt constrict in the same places. Check out something like ruffwear front range harness, that has padding, or a martingale collar. If pup does move, leave the harness on for several hours but keep that time fee un with food stuffed chew toys, play and treats. As pup gets used to the harness, gradually tighten the harness over the course of a few days and attach a leash to thr harness for pup to get used to dragging around while you are there to supervise (only leave the leash on while you can supervise in case it gets caught). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
I spent a lot of money trying different Harnesses. The first one was a Dog Freedom no pull harness. He wore it reluctantly. Then refused to wear it. Later, at age 8 months, I got a Ruffwear Front Range Harness and when it arrived he almost put it on himself! But after a couple of wearings he didn't want it on either. Thinking it was the over-the-head syndrome I purchase one more that fastened up around him. A PoyPet No Pull Harness. Again first time one ... great. But next time NO! I have included two pics that show his hackles raised. That fur ball gets squashed by all Harnesses and I do believe that is what the problem is. Do you agree or am I just grabbing at straws??
Hello Chuck, I would be interested to know what his response is to the harnesses, indicating that he doesn't like them? Honestly, he doesn't have to love wearing a harness for it to be alright for him to wear one - as long as it's not a traumatic or painful experience for him. If he wears the harness often enough during really fun activities - many dogs will learn to tolerate them fine because although they may not love something being on their body, they know that wearing it means they get to do something they love, so they adjust. Some dogs simply don't like being confined. My dogs prefers to be off-leash and wear less and are off-leash trained so can be at times, but sometimes leashing is necessary and they adjust to that alright when it's needed. The hair being squished might be something he doesn't enjoy but it shouldn't be causing him anything more than a minor annoyance typically. As long as the harness isn't fitted too tightly and is well made, he may just not like the feeling of something around his body. What is his response to the harness? If he acts really afraid or traumatized by it, I would consider other options. If it's simply not his preference, that's pretty normal. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?