3 Steps - How to train your dog to wear a harness
Our harnesses are created using a super soft fabric, a luxurious velvet lining and are adjustable in 5 points to offer the perfect fit but for some pups, the idea of putting on a harness can still be a little daunting. With a few simple training steps, you can teach your dog to love their harness as much as you do!
Kerry Woods, our resident dog trainer and behaviour consultant, has created this mini guide to help you train your dog to be comfortable wearing their harness. These steps are suitable whether you are getting your puppy used to their first harness, or you have an older dog who is a little nervous. To follow these steps, all you’ll need is your harness and some of your dog’s favorite treats.
Create positive associations with your harness
When your Stocky & Dee package arrives in the post, I’m sure you’ll be desperate to see how cute your pup looks in their new harness. But before you put your harness on your dog, it’s important to spend some time creating a positive association with their new harness. We want them to come running whenever you pick it up.
To do this, begin with the harness hidden behind your back. Simply show the harness to your dog, and feed them some yummy treats. After a few seconds, hide the harness and stop feeding the treats. Repeat this sequence a few times, always feeding your dog when the harness is presented.
Our harnesses are secured with a buckle, which fastens over your dog’s shoulder blades. The sound of a buckle can startle some dogs at first, so it can be helpful to get your dog used to this too. To do this, let your dog watch you opening and closing the harness buckle, and reward them after each action.
Teach your dog to step towards their harness
Now that your dog has positive associations with their new harness, you’re ready to start teaching them to step towards it. This step might take a little bit of time to perfect, but the more your dog co-operates with having their harness put on, the more enjoyable the pre-walk routine will be for everyone.
With your harness laying open on the floor in front of you, use a treat under your dog’s nose to guide them forwards to stand over their harness. Don’t worry if your dog’s feet aren’t in the perfect position straight away. Make sure to reward them for any forward movement at first, and you can perfect their position with time. Once you have given your dog a few treats in this position, throw a treat away so you can repeat the process again.
Fasten the harness
Once your dog is confidently stepping toward their harness, it’s time to pull it up and fasten it. Before beginning this step, make sure you have plenty of treats to hand. You might even want to use your dog’s favourite toy as a reward for this step.
Lay the harness out and encourage your dog to step forwards, as you did in the previous step. If your dog hasn’t perfected their feet placement yet, you can gently reposition their paws. Now, simply pull the harness up and clip it behind their shoulders. As soon as the harness is clipped - throw a party for your dog! This means lots of praise, treats and even some play. I like to throw some treats around for my puppy to chase and catch, to encourage him to move around in his harness.
By following these simple steps, you should now have a puppy or dog who is happy and relaxed having their harness put on. Before your dog shows off their harness on walks, I do recommend gradually building up the time that they wear their harness for home first, to ensure they are comfortable. Putting on your pup’s harness for feeding times, play and training sessions are all great ways to build and maintain a positive association with your dog’s harness throughout their lifetime.