How To Put On A Dog Harness

Jack Russell Terrier in a harness and on a leash Image by Kozorog

Learning how to put on a dog harness is a great skill to have when you're trying to teach Fido some good manners. Once you understand how the dog harness works, your next step should be to buy the best no-pull dog harness or regular harness you can find.

With a young pup just figuring out the basics such as housebreaking or an older dog who is getting grumpy, a dog harness is a humane way to keep Fido under control. Harnesses come in several different designs and of course, in a variety of stylish colors and patterns, making them ideal for any dog-friendly social setting. With harnesses, there is no worry of collar slip.

Getting into How to Put on a Dog Harness

dogs attached to dog harness in the snow

Image Via Pixabay

​Dog harnesses were initially invented to attach accessories to dogs. For example, a police dog may need a lightweight flashlight, or a seeing-eye dog may require a unique handle that the blind owner can hold.

Although harnesses have are available for all types of animals, from horses to guinea pigs, the most popular use is certainly for dogs. Different models have registered for patents over the years, but they all serve the same primary function. When learning how to put on a dog harness, consider your preference and, more importantly, the temperament of your dog to ensure all have a good time.

It's a matter of mechanics

Whether you choose to use a standard style, step-in style, or front clip style, how to put on a dog harness depends on your dog. A well built and durable harness is all you need, but a front clip harness, for example, lets you strap in your dog with minimal movement required by your four-legged friend.

By comparison, the step-in model gives the dog owner more control of the animal by allowing the human to move the dog's legs properly into place. The step-in model is therefore ideal for small, easy to pick up dogs.

​The humane approach

​Learning how to put on a dog harness instead of a collar or choke chain makes the dog more comfortable and, as mentioned previously, also reduces the chance for Fido to slip off the leash. Each type of harness has its own challenges when trying to put it on the dog, but a patient owner is sure to find success.

​The choke chain is archaic

Learning how to put on a dog harness will help steer you away from the age-old and barbaric practice of choke chains. This horrific tool of behavior control causes injuries to your dog's ocular blood vessels, sprained necks, fainting spells, and other horrible health risks.

These severe injuries occur most often because of the jerking or popping gesture that occurs when a dog owner is attempting to correct a dog's behavior. When it comes to correcting behavior, just like humans, animals respond more effectively to positive reinforcement, rather than coercive punishment.

Logically, we don't allow for this kind of treatment of children or other animals such as chickens. Recognizing that it is wrong to use choke chains is a courageous step forward towards more humane pet ownership.

​When to muzzle and when not to muzzle

At some point during dog training, a young pup gets into a biting and gnawing phase. At these times, using a muzzle appropriately to break the biting habit may be a good idea. To be clear, this is never a sound choice for dog walking, though.

Coupling a collar, harness, or chain with a leash and a muzzle is too extreme when you need to bring your dog out to socialize. First, dogs need to be able to pant when they're getting physical exercise, and a muzzle prevents them from breathing correctly.

On hot summer days, this kind of equipment can cause your dog to overheat and even faint. Even though your intention may be to help your dog break the biting habit, you could be putting him in harm's way.

Instead, opt for the short leash and keep your dog on the harness even in doggy social events, at least until you know your dog is past the biting phase. Sometimes this can be hard to do, especially if someone else's dog could be at risk of becoming injured.

If there is a real threat that your dog can't control himself and will bite, you're always better to err on the side of caution and avoid those situations that could make Fido more prone to biting.

​​​​​​​​How to Put on a Dog Harness: A Different Approach

The typical standard harness has one loop that goes around the dog's ribs. Another loop goes around the neck, and the whole apparatus comes together with a D-ring on the dog's back, to attach a leash.

​One step at a time

​The dog harness two-step

​The best choice for bad behavior

​​​​​​​While on the Canine Constitutional

dog training

Image Via Pixabay

Now that you know how to put on a dog harness and have it connected, you're ready to hit the town. Remember that whether you use a collar or a harness, there are some excellent tips to keep in mind when out on the street.

Whenever possible, walk in front of your dog. It can be difficult when your dog is incredibly excited to be outdoors. Making sure you are out front, setting the pace, will help your dog recognize that you're the one in control.

Make sure you use a short leash so that the dog can't zig-zag all over the place. If you're on a sidewalk next to a busy road, it's too easy for your dog to bolt out in front of a car if the lead is too long.

​Be generous with the rewards

Don't rush the walk. Always make sure you're planning enough time to get your dog an adequate amount of exercise. Neither you nor your dog will get a great walk if you only have time for 10 minutes.

Providing positive re-enforcement while out on a walk is just as important as delivering it around the house. Let your pet relieve himself and sniff at a fire hydrant or two as a reward. The dog will be happy, and you stay in control, especially when you know how to put on a dog harness.

​Unwinding at home

It's crucial to maintain control even after the walk. Your dog might get overly stimulated from all the sniffing and running around. Making him wait patiently while you take off your shoes, the leash, and the harness creates another opportunity to reward him.

If possible, time the walk to be just before the dog's regular feeding time. That way, the dog thinks food and water are a reward for good behavior on a walk. Keep in mind that this works on the dog psychologically, never withhold food and water from your pet.

​Take Good Care of Your Harness

dog harness

Image Via Pixabay

Anything your dog gets its paws on is going to end up filthy. You have probably already figured that out by now. With that in mind, pay close attention to the care instructions of your harness.

Most are machine washable, but going down that route can weaken the integrity of the straps. The last thing you want is for it to rip apart after one good pull from your dog. Hand washing your dog harness with a toothbrush is the best way to keep the equipment looking clean and new.

Even the best-kept harness will eventually wear out. All the pulling and gnawing that can happen with owning a dog is bound to take its toll. For this reason, plan on buying a replacement harness every couple of years.

​You're off to the Races

​Now you know how to put on a dog harness for safer walks. You also understand that using a harness is far more humane than using a choke chain or muzzle.

Don't forget to take advantage of the tips on how to have a more effective outing with your dog. Using positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior from Fido is a better choice than using coercive control.

Test out the different types of harnesses available, and you'll never go back to a traditional leash and collar. Your dog won't want to go back either.

Leave a comment below and share your favorite harness or best tips for getting one onto an especially fussy fido.

​Featured Image: Kozorog

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