Raise your paw if you hate your harness...
About 75% of the dogs I walk wear a harness or other walking aid (like a Halti Headcollar). About half of those dogs shy away from the collar, or even RUN away from it. And we say "Oh come on, once you get it on your fine!" or "Stop being ridiculous. You LOVE your walks!". Both statements may be true, but that doesn't mean your dog automatically loves their harness!
A few folks have asked me why. Why do they do this ridiculous song and dance about the harness? Well the reasons may vary, but a few common ones are:
- They got their skin caught in it and it pinched them, and they have never forgiven the poor
harness for it.
- They are physically uncomfortable, or feel restricted in their harness.
- They are anxious about something (a harness) being put over their head.
- They are anxious about the way the harness is put on.
Whatever the reason is, the end result is the same: harnesses emit a negative emotional response for that dog.
So the next logical question after why, is how do we fix it? The good news is the process is easy. The bad news is that it takes effort. It depends on the dog and your commitment.
To change that negative emotional response associated with the harness, we use something dogs have a positive emotional response to: TREATS!
This video by KikoPup shows you the best way to get your dog to love their harness through positive reinforcement training. Get out your treats and have some fun! Need some help? Just ask Erin for an in-person/video coaching session.
The how to:
1) Dog looks at harness when you pick it up, click, treat.
2) Put a treat on the harness, click, put another treat on the harness.
3) Dog sniffs harness, click, treat.
4) Lightly touch areas of the body that the harness will touch, click, treat.
5) Lightly tough the dog with the harness, click, treat.
6) Open and close the harness buckle, and treat when the harness clicks closed.
7) Move the harness towards the dog and feed through the harness.
8) Wait for the dog to put their own head through the harness, click and treat.
9) Complete the whole process of putting on the harness, click and treat.
Good luck and happy training!