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Help - Dog walks well on the collar but does not walk when using his harness

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by JL_, Oct 29, 2020.


  1. JL_

    JL_ PetForums Newbie

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    Hello All,

    My partner and I have a 4 month old border terrier who struggles on his walks, when using his harness.

    We have tried walks with his collar only and he absolutely fine and pulls us along, which we will train him not to do, in due course. The trouble we’re having is when we use his harness. He obviously doesn’t like it and shies away from us, when we go to put it on. He then, will refuse to walk and sit and walk a little, then sit again.

    We would prefer to use a harness on walks, rather than just a collar, for his safety, more than anything, but he really doesn’t seem to like it.

    Has anybody also had this problem and could advise how to address this? Would a different harness help?
     
    #1 JL_, Oct 29, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  2. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I assume he hasn’t been pinched by the harness and it’s fitting comfortably? Is it over the head or step in? Some don’t like things going over their head.

    Can you put the harness on then clip the lead to his collar and try carrying on as normal?

    If the lead is attached to his collar he might ignore the harness ... after a while, try clipping a lightweight long line to the harness so you can unclip the lead from his collar. He’ll have a lot more freedom and you can throw toys etc. which should change his focus.

    Alternatively, pop the harness on indoors and leave it on, whilst distracting his attention from it and getting him to play or follow treats - or just give him time to relax with it and realise it’s not scary.
     
  3. DanWalkersmum

    DanWalkersmum watching the world go by

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    what type of harness do you have? a soft puppia type is a good starter harness IMO. you can upgrade ti something more suitable as he grows.
     
  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    As well as fitting correctly, make sure fasteners are away from sensitive areas like armpits and elbows. Also some harness straps are finished by heating the nylon to seal it and that can leave an uncomfortable hard edge.
     
    Lurcherlad, Torin. and DanWalkersmum like this.
  5. JL_

    JL_ PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you all.

    It is an over head harness.

    We have tried the trick of attaching the lead to his collar whilst he has the harness on, that doesn’t make a difference.

    We will try your suggestions.

    Thanks
     
  6. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    How did you first introduce the harness? It sounds like he has very negative opinions of it, but the problem is, being forced to walk in it will be reaffirming that it's an unpleasant experience, rather than changing his mind to it being a nice thing.

    Sometimes the 'put it on and have fun' method can work with some dogs and some gear, but generally the 'have fun' part needs to be amazingly fun without increasing stress in and of itself, such as play, or cuddles, or doing easy tricks they know well and enjoy doing. You can do things like harness on and then scatter food so they can learn what moving in the harness feels like but it's their own choice to move, but that's unlikely to be enough on it's own at this stage.

    I personally wouldn't advocate for the flooding method though (putting it on, leaving it on for an extended amount of time) at this stage though, especially with his current opinions. That'll just reinforce that he has no choice about it, which isn't a good basis, especially not when your relationship with each other is still in the early days.

    I would personally buy a new harness, and then take more time to introduce it slowly. You want your dog to think that putting the harness on = signifies a fun thing is about to happen. Rather than the current thing of putting harness on = being forced to do things they strongly don't like.
     
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  7. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    My dog doesnt like her harness either - @Torin. Is spot on correct here. It will be how you have introduced it.


    I did the same as you - my Tilly has a perfect fit harness which was properly measured for her by a seller of perfect fit so it definitely doesnt hurt.

    But it shuts her down. Or it used to. Because i just slapped it on and away we went. When i first got it, it was winter and it was really icy underfoot so the fact it shut her down was fantastic for me!

    No pulling at all. She walked miserably along by my side.

    3 yrs on she still doesnt love it - sometime she goes into a submissive posture when she sees it but she now recovers fast and is fine once it's on.


    She has a totally different reaction to her head halter - because i have introduced that carefully and slowly, she approaches me when she sees it as she knows it equals fun times.

    So it definitely all depends on the conditioning of it. Follow torin's advice and your problem will be solved.
     
    DanWalkersmum likes this.
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