How to Use a Dog Harness

Almost any dog owner knows that a dogs first time on leash is difficult. The dog may try to get ahead of you, they may continue to pull and choke themselves, or they just might not understand what you’re doing and try running away.

A lot of leash problems can be fixed with a dog harness. But you might be thinking about how to use a dog harness. How do you even put on a dog harness?

We’re going to go through the different kinds of dog harnesses that exist and how to properly train a dog to use a harness.

Types of Dog Harnesses

While there are numerous variations, most fall into one of three categories.

  • Back Clip Harness
  • Front Clip Harness
  • Tightening Harness

Each type of harness has its own benefits and detriments. Let’s take a bit of a closer look at each of these harnesses.

Back Clip Harness

The back-clip harness is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a harness that your dog must step through to put on. The d-ring that you clip the leash on is also located between the dog’s shoulder blades. This harness is very easy to walk with as the clip is behind the dogs back. This makes it less likely that the dog will become tangled up in the leash as the clip keeps the leash away from their feet.

These harnesses are also much more comfortable for your dog to wear. Most times it has a kind of soft mesh on the underside so your dog’s coat can still breath, but their chest is still supported.

The downside of this harness is that it doesn’t help correct behavioral issues. If your dog is pulling, or jumping, this is not the harness for them. If your dog is acting out or displaying aggression, this might not be the best choice.

Front Clip Harness

The front clip harness makes a great choice if you are still training your dog. The clip to attach the leash is in the front. This gives an owner much more control over the direction the dog is going and allows for redirection if needed. You can also help “steer” your dog while walking.

The downside of the front clip harness is that the leash clips directly above the dog’s legs. This makes it very easy to get tangled up if the leash becomes slack.

Tightening Harness

The tightening harness is the best choice for a dog that is determined to pull. The harness clips in front and gives the dog a bit of a squeeze when they pull to hard. The idea is that the slight discomfort they get by the harness will help remind them to stop pulling.

Be very careful if you choose to use a harness like this though. Make sure that the harness doesn’t cause sharp pain as pain can also be associated with aggression. You don’t want an aggressive dog in pain. Make sure that the harness gently squeezes your dog for best results.

One of the tradeoffs with this harness is that the dog will not learn to walk with a loose leash. The harness will constantly reinforce not pulling, but that’s about as far as it goes. That said, if your dog is a puller, this harness can do wonders.

Now that we’ve looked at the pluses and minuses of each harness, let see how to use them.

How to Put on a Dog Harness

How your dog harness fits will depend on the type of harness it is. For the most part, a dog’s harness is made up of a few parts. The usually contain a loop around the ribs, a loop around the neck and a D-ring to clip on the leash.

Some harnesses have two clips to make it easier to put on and take off. Most have at least one clip. Whatever your style, find the front loop. This loop is meant to go over the dog’s head and rest on their neck. The loop that goes across their ribs usually has a clip that you can undo.

Open the larger clip, and squat behind your dog. Have them step into the front of the harness. With most harnesses, you must put the loop around their neck while also feeding their leg through a leg hole. Once the front of the harness is in place, you can clip the back buckle to secure the harness.

Once you have the harness on your dog, be sure to check the fit. You should be able to fit two or three fingers under each section of the harness. If you can’t, loosen it to make sure it’s not too tight. You also want to be sure the back-strap fits behind the dog’s elbows, not behind their ribs. Your dog should look comfortable and have full range of motion while wearing their harness.

How to Use a Dog Harness

How to use a dog harness is not rocket science. But it does take some discipline and patience. Remember to have a high value treat with you when you go out for a walk. And of course, you’re only going out for a walk after the harness has been properly fitted.

Begin walking with your dog by saying “let’s go.” Reward your dog for every step they take by your side. They will learn that this is the proper place for them to be. If they start leaving your side, you can give them the command “easy.” They won’t understand what it means yet, but they’ll learn. If they go a little too far of begin tugging at your, you can say, “oops” and turn in the opposite direction.

Turning gives your dog the chance to come back to your side and not ahead of you. Once they are back at your side, you should continue to reward them. This can be treats, but it can also be pets and kind words.

If you remember to keep your commands and expectations constant, your dog will quickly learn to be great on a leash.

Teaching your dog how to use a dog harness shouldn’t be hard, in fact it’s much easier than just using a leash and collar. Stick to the program and your dog will be a natural in no time!

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