DOGSDog Collars, Harnesses & LeadsHow to train your puppy to wear a harness

How to train your puppy to wear a harness

Bed, bowl, food, toys, leash and harness – the most important things you should get before taking your new pet home. And once you’re home, you can start getting used to both each other and your new equipment!

Puppy running with K9 harnessWhen buying the first harness for your puppy, you may want to consider where you are planning to use it. If you are looking for a harness for city walks, a chest harness (for example the IDC®Powerharness and its super light version, the IDC®Powair) would be the best choice. You can put this on your dog in one go during hectic everyday life; it’s enough to just fasten it with a buckle, and thanks to its design, it provides proper control in the hustle and bustle of the city.

The striking saddle part and rugged handle are all useful in unexpected situations while getting around. For longer walks and excursions, however, it’s better to choose a Y-shaped harness (like the IDC®Longwalk), however, putting this type of harness on is slightly more difficult.

Veterinarians suggest that it is not advisable to take your puppy to the street until it has been fully vaccinated, so it’s worth taking the time at this stage to having them get used to the harness. For a more timid puppy, it’s also better not to have them get used to their gear and the street environment at the same time. You may be able to put it on right away at first and they might not even notice. On the other hand, they could also stop, and resist sticking their head through or stepping into the harness, and possibly even try to chew on it.

Puppy with K9 harnessWhen you first give your puppy a harness, prepare a lot of reward snacks. Sit down next to them on the floor and encourage them with a snack to get into the harness. In the meantime, give them a lot of praise, and let them feel how proud you are of how well they’re doing. If they seem uneasy, under no circumstances should you force the harness onto them, instead take a break and try again later.

You may want to ask for help from a family member or friend your dog is already familiar with: ask them to hold the dog until you put on the harness, while rewarding them with extra delicious snacks. Puppies may even be sensitive to the sound of the buckle clicking. And that’s another reason why they need encouragement and tasty snacks.

Never adjust the harness while your puppy’s wearing it, instead remove the harness, readjust the length of the straps, then put it back onto the dog. You may also need to take a small break.

Once you have successfully managed to put the harness on your dog, make sure they associate wearing it with pleasant experiences. Play with them, and give them reward snacks, but it may also be a good idea to feed them breakfast or dinner while they’re wearing the harness. If they’re already big enough to go out into the street, there’s a good chance the walk alone will be a positive enough experience to make them fall in love with the harness. If they lie down or rub the harness against something, try distracting them by playing or chasing each other. In the interests of safety, make sure they’re not trying to get rid of the harness because it’s too tight.

Puppy with K9 harness and lead

In the case of puppies, gnawing is a common problem, in which case distraction is the best tactic. If the harness or buckle is damaged by chewing, discontinue using it.

Young dogs reach their roughly expected final height by the age of 8-10 months, and after that they tend to get stronger. Very large dogs reach their final size by about three years of age. If you have a dog that’s still growing, check your harness settings regularly and adjust them if necessary. And if your pet is already in the next size range in any of the parameters, it’s time to get a bigger harness!

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