There’s no question that a harness is one of the safest ways to walk your dog. They are difficult for dogs to slip out of and, for dogs that tend to pull, they protect against neck strain. Harnesses also make it easier for handlers to walk dogs on a leash by reducing the urge to pull and making it easier to correct the dog’s direction. Unfortunately, putting a dog harness on for the first time isn’t always an easy feat, especially if your dog isn’t used to trying new things. This step-by-step guide to how to put on a dog harness should make the experience easier for both you and your dog so you can enjoy safe, comfortable walks together.
How to put on a dog harness: step by step instructions
Step 1. Allow your dog to sniff the harness
Before you attempt to put the harness on, let your dog inspect it. Hold the harness up for your dog to sniff, or place it on the floor so your dog can investigate the strange contraption at his leisure.
This simple step allows your dog to become familiar with the harness. Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the anxiety that may come with wearing a harness for the first time.
Step 2. Have your dog stand calmly next to you
It will be easiest to put the harness on if your dog is calm. If necessary, wait until your dog stops jumping or wriggling before attempting to put the harness on.
Step 3. Orient the harness
Before you proceed with putting the harness on, make sure you have it oriented correctly. When using a new harness, it’s easy to become confused by all of the straps, especially if they become twisted by a wriggling pup.
The easiest way to orient a harness is by identifying where the D-rings that you clip the leash to should be positioned. Typically there will be one on the chest or on the strap that rests on top of your dog’s back. Some harnesses have both.
Step 4. Put the harness on
If using an over-the-head harness, slip the harness over your dog’s head and tuck the chest piece under your dog’s chest. Then, fasten the straps around your dog’s body behind the front legs.
If using a step-in dog harness, place your dog’s paws through the triangles on either side of the chest strap. Then, buckle the harness around your dog’s body.
There are many different harnesses on the market these days, so the exact steps to fasten your harness may vary slightly. Some harnesses are very straightforward, and others have multiple fastening points. Check your harness’s package for a diagram of how to put it on correctly.
Step 5. Adjust the straps to fit your dog
Now that the harness is on your dog, you may need to adjust it to fit properly. Observe your dog in the harness for a few minutes and take note of any fit issues.
Does it look like the harness might slip off? Is it sagging too much in any area? Is it too tight and inhibiting your dog’s range of motion?
The harness should be snug enough to not slip off your dog even when the dog is sitting or laying down. At the same time, you want it to be loose enough that it’s comfortable for your dog. Make sure you can fit two fingers underneath any of the harness straps.