There are a variety of issues certain dogs may have with varying items they’re associated with, and the collar or harness is a common example. Many Utah dog owners will see issues where their pups run away or otherwise resist when it’s time to put on their harness or collar – luckily, there are some very simple techniques to take if this happens.
At Innovative K9 Academy, we’re proud to offer numerous dog training courses for a variety of dogs, from puppy boot camp up to group classes, private training sessions and much more. We’ve assisted a variety of dog owners with these types of collar and harness hesitancy issues, which are not uncommon whatsoever for many dogs. Here’s a primer on the advice we often give to Utah dog owners dealing with this concern.
First and foremost is one big rule that may seem hard to follow, but is very important: Do not chase your puppy if they run away while putting on the harness or collar. All this does is teach the dog that you and the harness are associated with negatives and cannot be trusted.
If you did this in the past, that’s okay. However, we recommend strongly that you remove this behavior from your response toolkit.
Fit or Alternative
In many cases, the reason your dog is so hesitant to wear their collar or especially a specific harness is simple: It doesn’t fit them properly. Just the fact that you can get a given harness over a dog’s head and onto their body doesn’t mean it’s necessarily comfortable or allows them full movement, and in many cases they’ll be extremely uncomfortable or will struggle to breathe. If you’ve had issues here, consider a step-through harness that isn’t too tight.
In other cases, there are certain dogs who just won’t do well with any harness, even a well-fitting one. In these cases, our best recommendation is to leave this dog’s collar on at all times.
Random Object Reward
If your dog appears to be frightened of the harness itself, it could be due to smells or some other kind of fear. To help with this, grab a different object they’re unfamiliar with, then hold it out to your dog to sniff – and when they do, reward them with a treat or praise to show that sniffing the item to learn more about it is a good thing.
Once you’ve established this routine, apply it to the harness or collar. Hold it out and allow your dog to sniff it and become more comfortable, with it, then reward them for this while showing them the harness is nothing to be afraid of.
Continuation of Positive Theme
And whether or not you use the specific method we just described, keeping the harness or collar firmly in the positive realm is very important. You don’t want your dog to only associate this item with negative outcomes. You don’t always have to give a treat for wearing the harness, but if you’re sure to mix up activities and otherwise reward your dog for being good with this item, it will help in the long run.
For more on how to get a hesitant dog to become more comfortable with its harness or collar, or to learn about any of our Utah dog training services, speak to the staff at Innovative K9 Academy today.