Training Your Dog to Wear a Harness
Getting your dog used to wearing a harness can take a little time, but once trained, your dog will stop resisting the harness and be comfortable wearing it over long periods.
Step 1 – Getting Your Dog Used to Being Touching
When dogs resist wearing a harness, it is often because they are sensitive to touch or do not enjoy being petted. It is important to get your dog used to being touched regularly, otherwise they will always struggle wearing harnesses, collars or even leads.
Firstly, start slow. Gently touch and stoke your dog with your hands, rewarding it with treats whenever you do so. This will get your dog used to physical contact.
If the dog backs away or nips you, then this is a sign you are being too rough or intrusive with your petting and you will need to slow down your training methods.
Step 2 – Introduce Your Dog to the Harness
Non-Contact introduction - Look
It is important to introduce your dog to the harness before attempting to put it on. Start off with a non-contact introduction, allowing your dog to see the harness clearly as well as sniff it.
Then place a treat on the harness and allow your dog to eat off it. After this step, your dog should start sniffing the harness on its own accord, which you should also reward with a treat.
Non-Contact introduction - Sound
Julius K9 dog harnesses use both Velcro and buckle fixings. The sound of these can startle your dog so it is important to also introduce your dog to these sounds before putting the harness on.
In front of your dog, open and close the fastenings, rewarding with treats after each action.
After the non-contact introduction, it is time to gradually introduce the feel of the harness to your dog.
Gently touch the harness on the areas where the harness will sit, such as the back, chest and neck. Start slowly and gently, rewarding your dog with a treat after each contact.
Step 3 – Getting Your Dog to Wear the Harness
Pictured: IDC Multifunctional Dog Vest and Life Jacket.
After you have introduced your dog to the harness, it is time to put it on. It is very important to start this process slowly, as over eagerness to fix the harness on could undo the hard work you put into Steps 1 and 2.
Firstly, feed you dogs treats through the harness. Dangle the harness in front of your dog and have them poke their head through the harness to eat out of your hand.
After this, slowly ease the harness onto your dog without fixing or tightening the buckle. As you ease the harness on, reassure your dog by again feeding them treats.
Using the same slow, steady method, remove the harness, again reassuring your dog. This is an important step, as it shows the dog that the harness is only temporary.
Now your dog is ready for the harness to be fixed on for the first time. Ensure that you again slowly ease it the harness on and, once you have fixed the buckle, reward your dog with treats.
Step 4 – Before the First Outing
The first time your dog wears the harness it is best to let them roam in a safe space before taking them out for a walk. Letting them run around your home or garden will allow your dog to get used to the feel of the harness in an environment familiar to them and away from situations beyond your control.
Depending on the timidness of your dog, this may take a couple of sessions, but it is important not to rush this.
Once your dog appears comfortable wearing the harness without resistance, it is now time to take them on their first walk.
Training Break Down
For an advanced tutorial involving clicker obedience training, there is a fantastic YouTube video from Kikopup: