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My dog ​​can’t stand his harness: what should I do?

For many dogs, the harness is synonymous with walking. Just seeing it tends to make them jump for joy and putting it on is a breeze. But for other doggies, this is far from the case. Indeed, for some dogs, wearing a harness is an ordeal. The object may have been associated with an unpleasant event or the model may not be well suited to the pooch.

The choice of the dog’s harness should not be overlooked because it is ideal equipment for walks and the practice of physical and sporting activities. Indeed, it exerts no pressure on the dog’s neck, which avoids the risk of strangulation. Nevertheless, an unsuitable model, too tight or on the contrary too loose, can hurt the dog and be a source of discomfort.

If your little friend can’t stand wearing his harness, don’t despair. It is entirely possible to help her accept it again. Let’s take a look at the methods to put in place to do this.

Why does a dog not support his harness?

If many doggies associate the harness with the time of the walk, having to put it on is not pleasant for all. Some are particularly reluctant and even seek to flee to avoid having to wear it.

To help your pet support his harness, it is first important to understand the reasons for his reluctance in order to provide an appropriate response.

The harness is not comfortable or does not fit

A harness is a piece of equipment that must be carefully chosen. To be comfortable, it must be well adjusted to the dog’s morphology to accompany its movements without discomfort. A harness that is too tight is unpleasant and uncomfortable. A harness that is too loose generally causes irritating chafing.

The dog associates the harness with a negative element

Your dog may have associated his harness with a negative event that now causes him to no longer want to wear it. You may have pinched it while putting it on, he may have gotten stuck once while wearing it, or some other unpleasant event that may have marked him hard.

The dog can’t stand an object going over his head

Some dogs are very sensitive to objects passing over their heads before being settled around their body. This feeling of oppression can be particularly unpleasant for them. It must be recognized that a harness is not a natural accessory for the pooch who feels much more free without equipment.

How to help a dog support the harness?

To help your pet cope with wearing the harness, you need to put in place an appropriate strategy. You will have to work with him on the gradual habituation in order to allow him to accept the wearing of this accessory little by little and no longer perceive it as an enemy.

We advise you to set up a learning technique based on kindness, patience, positive reinforcement and reward. This technique has proven itself. It encourages the animal to become an actor in its learning, because it encourages it to repeat good behavior. He takes pleasure in satisfying his master, which proves to be much more effective than the old traditional methods, based on the fear of punishment.

Proceed with short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes maximum, each day. Make sure beforehand that each step is well acquired before moving on to the next one in order to avoid a return to square one, which can take several days. Some learning takes time. You will therefore need to be patient and respect your dog’s abilities.

Step 1: Teach him to stay still (“not move!”)

It is often difficult to pass the harness to a dog, because it fidgets, moves and tries to get free. We must therefore start by teaching him to stay still, in place, without moving.

Put it on a table if it can be carried, or leave it on the floor. Hold him firmly without hurting him until he calms down. If he’s constantly gesticulating, ignore him with your back to him. Don’t talk to him, don’t touch him, pretend he’s not there, it’s a good way to make him stop his gesticulations.

As soon as he calms down, continue to hold him and give him a reward while telling him “stay still!”. He must be able to stay calm and still for a while. To do this, give him as many treats as he needs. Stop dispensing as soon as he starts moving again.

Through this, your dog will understand that the fact of remaining wisely in place, motionless, allows him to receive a treat as a reward.

Step 2: introduce the harness to your dog

If your dog is reluctant to use the harness, you will need to help him accept it. Don’t rush things and allow him to adjust to them slowly. Place the harness in the house where your pet can see it. From time to time, touch it or take it in your hands, to pretend it was an ordinary object, before putting it down after a few seconds.

If you find that your pooch is unresponsive, you can extend keeping the harness in your hands for a few minutes. Your dog needs to understand that the fact that you take the harness in your hands does not necessarily mean that you are going to make him wear it. He can get used to the fact that your interaction with the object has no impact on him.

If your pet does not seem to care, you can also present the harness to him to make him feel it.

Step 3: Help him enjoy wearing the harness

For your dog to appreciate wearing his harness, you have to make him accept it with pleasure. Take the harness in your hands and give your pooch a treat or kibble. You can then pass your arm through the straps of the harness to feed it. Gradually move your hand back to encourage your pooch to bring his head closer to eat the kibble.

As you try and succeed, the goal is to get your dog to agree to put his head through the harness to get his treats. This step must be very gradual so as not to scare the doggie.

As soon as your little companion has put his head in the harness, you can gently clip it on. Then unclip it immediately so that it does not feel trapped. As the trials and repetitions go on, leave the harness in place for longer and longer.

Of course, you need to be equipped with a model adapted to your doggie before embarking on this apprenticeship. If the harness was too tight or ill-fitting, adjust it properly or buy new, much more comfortable equipment.

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