How to Harness Train Your Dog

Hettie dog harness

Having your dog wear a harness has many added benefits over using a simple leash and collar. If your dog tends to pull while on walks, a harness can help train your pup not to pull without hurting him or her. A harness evenly distributes weight across a dog’s chest, whereas a collar does not.

Another added benefit is that most harnesses have a handle on the back, allowing owners to assist dogs over barriers while on adventures or helping an older dog into the car.

Choosing the Right Harness

Make Sure You Get the Right Fit

An ill-fitting harness will not only make your dog very uncomfortable, but it will also make training more difficult.

It’s no secret that dogs come in many different shapes and sizes. A harness that fits a Great Dane will not fit a Corgi. However, what many people don’t know is that you can’t rely on weight for the sizing of a harness. A 40-pound bulldog will wear a different size than a 40-pound greyhound.

Check out this harness sizing chart to help ensure you buy the right-sized harness.

Signs of a poor-fitting harness include:

  • Fur loss or chafing around the harness area
  • Dog is able to wriggle free
  • Dog is strongly resisting walking
  • Back piece of the harness is rotating side-to-side

Getting Your Dog Used to The Harness

A harness, to dog owners, can seem overwhelming, but to dogs, it can seem downright scary at first!

Before putting the harness on your dog, here are some tips for making your pup comfortable.

  • Start by allowing your dog to smell the harness.
  • Put a treat on the harness, allowing him/her to eat the treat off of it.
  • Touch your dog with the harness, praising each time it makes contact.
  • If the harness has a buckle, you can open and close the buckle, giving the dog a treat when it clicks.

Most dogs who don’t like wearing a harness typically have sensitivity to certain areas being touched. To help combat this, pet and stroke your pup on the areas that the harness will be touching.

For some dogs, it can take a few weeks for it to begin feeling comfortable. If your dog backs away or nips at you, it’s a sign you’re moving too fast and need to slow down.

Putting the Harness On Your Dog

First, fasten the chest straps to ensure your dog is comfortable.

  • Allow the dog to wear the harness inside the house. Once this is comfortable, attach a leash to the harness, letting them drag it behind them.
  • Take your dog outside in the attached harness. Since most dogs love going outside, this is a treat in itself!
  • If your dog is not food-oriented, associate the harness with positive experiences such as affection, praise, or a favourite toy.

The goal is to break up the process of adjusting to the harness, giving rewards as your dog progresses and becomes comfortable. You always want to go at their speed.

Choosing a harness will give you security in knowing that your dog is comfortable and properly restrained while outdoors. It will also reduce stress to your pup’s trachea and sternum. Talk about a win-win!

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