Whether it’s a new puppy harness or a step-in or overhead harness for your adult dog, you may have trouble figuring out how to put a harness on a dog correctly. Harnesses for dogs are coming out in many new flashy designs. Not every dog is eager to have one slipped over their head, nor do all of them want to stand still long enough for you to buckle them in.
We created a step-by-step guide for putting a harness on and checking that it fits correctly to help with this problem.
How To Put on a Dog Harness (Step-by-Step)
If your dog has never worn a harness before or has had a bad experience with one, it’s best to start putting the new harness on through a step-by-step process. This method will help your dog associate the harness with something positive and learn to accept it calmly and happily.
- Put your new harness on the ground for your dog to smell and become aware of.
- Use clicker training to reward your dog for going near the harness or simply throw treats around it.
- Keep your dog calm. Do not over excite it. A dog that learns to become over-excited when it sees the harness will probably not stand still when you try to put it on. Therefore, reward for calm behavior.
- Gradually stop rewarding your dog just for going straight to the harness and start rewarding them for standing quietly over it.
- Once your dog has learned to approach and stand quietly when they see the harness, you can start putting it on.
- If it is a step in harness, your dog should now have learned to stand over it. From here, you can either move the paws to stand inside the harness or to continue to lure your dog with a treat to teach them to stand in the correct place themselves.
- When the dog is standing in the harness, simply lift it up and clip it over the back. Reward them. Allow them some time to become accustomed to the feeling of wearing it. You can make it positive by distracting them with a favorite game of tug or fetch.
- With an overhead harness, loosen the girth buckles and lure your dog’s head through the hole for the neck with a treat.