how do i get my dog used to wearing a harness
how do i get my dog used to wearing a harness

In this article, we will explore effective strategies for helping your beloved furry friend become comfortable with wearing a harness. We understand that introducing new accessories can be a daunting task for both you and your dog, but worry not! With a little patience and some expert tips, you’ll have your pup strutting confidently in their harness in no time. Let’s embark on this exciting journey of harness training together, and watch your canine companion embrace this new adventure with open paws.

Choosing the Right Harness

When it comes to selecting a harness for your furry friend, there are a few important factors to consider. The first step is to choose the appropriate size. A harness that is too small may cause discomfort, while one that is too large can result in a lack of control. Measure your dog’s chest girth to ensure a proper fit. Additionally, it’s crucial to consider the type of harness that best suits your dog’s needs. Different types, such as back-clip, front-clip, or head halter harnesses, offer varying levels of control and comfort. Finally, make sure the harness is comfortable for your dog. Look for well-padded straps and adjustable features to ensure a snug yet comfortable fit.

Introducing the Harness Gradually

Once you have chosen the perfect harness for your pup, it’s important to introduce it gradually to ensure a positive experience. Start by allowing your dog to get familiar with the harness before putting it on. Let them sniff it and explore it at their own pace. Once they are comfortable with the presence of the harness, you can begin associating it with positive experiences. Offer treats and rewards whenever you bring out the harness, helping your dog form positive associations. It’s also a good idea to start with short and supervised wear times initially. This allows your dog to become accustomed to the feeling of wearing a harness without feeling overwhelmed.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when it comes to getting your dog used to wearing a harness. Use treats and rewards as motivation during the harness-wearing process. Whenever you put the harness on your dog, give them a treat and praise them for their cooperation. This helps to create a positive association with the harness and encourages your dog to view it as a positive experience. Additionally, associate the harness with activities that your dog enjoys. If they love going for walks or playing in the park, put the harness on before engaging in these activities. This helps your dog understand that wearing the harness leads to enjoyable experiences.

Gradual Progression

Once your dog has become comfortable with wearing the harness for short periods, it’s time to gradually increase the duration of wear. Start by extending the wear time by a few minutes each day. As your dog becomes more accustomed to wearing the harness, you can gradually increase the time until they are comfortable wearing it for longer periods. Practice putting the harness on and off multiple times a day to desensitize your dog to the process. This will help them understand that wearing the harness is a normal part of their routine. To further acclimate your dog to different environments, take them on short outings with the harness on, allowing them to experience different sights, sounds, and smells while wearing it.

Troubleshooting Challenges

While most dogs can be easily trained to wear a harness, there may be some challenges along the way. If your dog shows signs of fear or anxiety when wearing the harness, it’s important to address these issues. Start by associating the harness with positive experiences, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for guidance in dealing with fear or anxiety. If your dog resists wearing the harness or shows signs of discomfort, it may be due to an incorrect fit. Check that the harness is properly adjusted and ensure that all straps are secure. If the challenges persist, do not hesitate to seek professional help to address the issue.

Keeping the Harness Secure

A properly fitted harness is crucial to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort. Take the time to adjust the harness properly so that it fits snugly but comfortably around your dog’s chest and shoulders. Avoid any strap openings that may cause chafing or discomfort. It’s essential to ensure that all straps are securely fastened to prevent the harness from slipping or coming off during walks or activities. Periodically check the harness for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed straps or loose stitching. If you notice any damage, it’s important to replace the harness to maintain your dog’s safety.

Special Considerations

When selecting and introducing a harness, it’s important to consider any special needs your dog may have. Older or injured dogs may require a harness that provides additional support and minimizes strain on their bodies. Look for harnesses specifically designed for these conditions. Small breed dogs may have different body proportions, requiring a harness that is tailored to their size. Similarly, dogs with unique body shapes, such as those with broad chests or long bodies, may benefit from harnesses that offer customizable adjustments. Taking these special considerations into account will ensure that your dog is comfortable and secure in their harness.

Harness Alternatives

While harnesses are a popular choice for many dog owners, there are alternative options to consider. Collars, for example, provide a simple and lightweight option for dogs who don’t require the added control of a harness. However, it’s important to note that collars can put strain on a dog’s neck, especially during walks. Another alternative is a front-clipping harness, which redirects your dog’s pulling motion and encourages them to walk by your side. This type of harness can be a great choice for dogs who tend to pull on the leash. Finally, a head halter allows you to gently guide your dog’s head, offering control and redirection. However, it’s crucial to introduce a head halter gradually and ensure positive reinforcement to avoid discomfort for your dog.

Safety Guidelines

While harnesses are a valuable tool, it’s important to adhere to safety guidelines to keep your dog protected. Never leave your dog unattended with a harness on, as they may become entangled or injured. Avoid using harnesses for tie-out or restraint purposes, as they are not designed for this and may result in injury. Always supervise your dog when they are wearing a harness to prevent any accidents. Regularly inspect the harness for any signs of damage, such as frayed straps or weakened stitching. If you notice any signs of wear and tear, replace the harness immediately to maintain your dog’s safety.


Getting your dog used to wearing a harness can be a gradual and positive process. By choosing the right harness, introducing it gradually, and using positive reinforcement training, you can ensure that your dog feels comfortable and secure in their harness. Address any challenges that may arise, and always prioritize your dog’s safety by keeping the harness secure and regularly inspecting it for any damage. With patience, consistency, and lots of praise, your dog will soon be happily wearing their harness and ready for all your adventures together.

Previous articleShould Large Dogs Use A Harness Instead Of A Collar?
Next articleWhat Is A Safety Harness For Dogs In Cars?
Brian Moore
I'm Brian Moore, a veterinarian with over 10 years of experience. I graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation, I worked as a general practitioner in a small animal clinic for several years. In 2017, I opened my own veterinary practice, Moore Animal Hospital. I'm passionate about providing compassionate and high-quality care to all animals. I'm skilled in a wide range of veterinary procedures, including surgery, dentistry, and internal medicine. I'm also a certified animal behaviorist, and I take a special interest in helping animals with behavioral problems. In addition to my clinical work, I'm also active in the veterinary community. I'm a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association. I'm also a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences. I'm dedicated to providing the best possible care for my patients and their families. I'm a compassionate and knowledgeable veterinarian who is always willing to go the extra mile. I'm originally from San Francisco, California. I'm married and have two children. I enjoy hiking, camping, and spending time with my family. I'm also a member of the local animal shelter and volunteer my time to help care for homeless animals. I'm excited to continue my career as a veterinarian and help even more animals in need.