How to Put on a Dog Harness
A harness allows you to safely walk your dog without worrying that they may run off. Harnesses put less pressure on your dog’s neck, and they allow you to train your dog not to jump or pull.At first, your dog's harness might seem confusing and impossible to put on, but it’s easier than it looks! Depending on the type of harness you’ve purchased, you’ll either need to have your dog step into the harness or slip it over the dog’s head.
Putting on a Step-In Harness
Place the unbuckled harness on the ground.You need enough space for you and your dog to get behind the harness. The harness should have two leg loops in the front with straps down the middle. Spread out the straps so it will be easier to help the dog into the harness.
- If your harness has a vest or chest cover attached to it, make sure the outside is facing down toward the floor.
Command your dog to "sit" and "stay" behind the harness.This makes it easier to help your dog into the harness.If your dog hasn’t learned “sit” and “stay” commands, you or a partner will need to hold the dog still while you put on the harness.
- If the dog squirms, it’s best to have a partner to help you get it into the harness.
Place your dog's front paws into the correct loops on the harness.Pick up the right paw and move it forward into the appropriate loop. After you put the right paw down on the floor, lift the dog's left paw and place it into the other loop.
- Some harnesses label which side is meant for which paw. However, many harnesses are reversible. Check your harness to see which type you have.
Pull the harness up onto your dog.The harness should fit around your dog's body, not around its neck. The loops will settle at the top of the dog’s legs against its belly. Tug the side straps up over the dog’s belly and onto its back.
- The harness may have more than one clip to secure it on the dog. For example, it might have a shoulder clip and lower back clip. You may need to pull up and clip the straps one at a time if this is the case.
Secure the clips on the harness.Slide the two pieces of the clip together. Listen for the “click” that tells you the clip has attached. Tug on the clip to make sure it doesn’t come undone.
- If your harness has more than one clip, attach all of them.
Adjust the harness to fit on your dog.Move the adjustable pieces on the harness until they’re secure on your dog. Make sure the straps aren't loose enough to come off the dog. Next, check that you can fit 2 fingers under the harness straps, which ensures the harness won’t be too tight on your pup.
- Check that the dog can’t easily slip out of the harness. Make sure it won’t easily come down over the dog’s paw or up over its head.
- You will need to adjust the harness every time your dog wears it.
Reward your pup with a treat and praise.This teaches your dog to enjoy putting on its harness. It also makes it easier for you to put on the harness in the future, as your pup will look forward to the treats!
Securing an Overhead Harness
Command your dog to “sit” and “stay.” It’s easier to put the harness on the dog if it stands in place. Your dog should be sitting in front of you.
- If your dog isn’t trained to “sit” and “stay,” you or a partner will need to hold the dog still while you put on the harness.
Find the neck hole and slide it over the dog's head.The neck hole should look like a circle that fits over your dog’s head and shoulders. Find the D-ring for the leash, then position it either in the front or the back, depending on where it's supposed to go. Slide the harness over the dog's head and position it low on the dog's shoulder area so it isn't around the neck.
- The neck hole is usually the smallest hole on the harness. The side straps will be attached to the neck hole on each side.
- You want the harness to rest against the dog's body rather than around its neck.
- If your overhead harness has a vest or comfort shield attached, make sure the outside of the fabric is facing away from your dog.
Put one of the dog’s paws into the loop on the harness.Your harness should have a leg loop on one side. Lift the dog’s paw up off the floor and slide it into the loop. Then, put your dog’s paw down on the floor.
- If your harness clips in place on both sides, you’ll need to clip the straps around the first leg. Wrap the two straps around the leg, then clip the buckle.
Loop the remaining strap under your dog’s leg and up toward its back.This will turn the strap into a leg loop. Make sure the strap goes under and behind the dog’s leg, which is important for control.
- Once the harness is on your dog, it will look like both legs are inserted into side loops.
Click the buckle on the dog’s back.The strap that you looped behind the dog’s leg will clip into a buckle on the dog’s back. Push both sides of the buckle together, then listen for the “click.”
- Test the buckle to make sure it’s secure. You should be able to pull up on the buckle without it coming apart.
Fit the harness around your dog using the plastic adjusters.Slide the adjusters to tighten or loosen straps, as necessary. Pull on the straps to check that the neck hole and leg loops aren't loose enough for your dog to get out of them. Then, check that you can put 2 fingers under the straps to ensure it's not too snug.
- You should adjust the harness every time you use it.
Give your pup a treat and lots of praise.Putting on the harness should be a pleasant experience for your dog. This teaches it to like putting on its harness, making it easier to outfit the dog for future walks.
Attaching a Leash
Check the position of your leash clip.Basic harnesses have a leash clip in the back, while training or no-pull harnesses usually have a clip in the front. However, you can find harnesses that can be clipped in either the front or the back. The leash clip should look like a D-ring.
- If your harness only has a clip on one side, don’t try to attach the leash on the other side.
Clip the leash on the back of the harness for calm dogs and small dogs.Find the D-ring on the back of your dog’s harness. Open the clasp on the leash, then secure it over the D-ring. A back-clip harness provides a comfortable walking experience for dogs that don’t pull or jump. These harnesses are also safe for little dogs that have small, sensitive necks.
- Back-clip leashes are less likely to get tangled around your dog’s feet.
- If your dog tends to pull, however, a back-clip harness could result in you being drug around like a sled.
Attach the leash on the front to train or control your dog.Find the D-ring on the front center of your dog’s harness, then pull back the clasp on the leash. Place the clasp over the D-ring and attach it. This will allow you to have more control over your dog, especially if it tends to pull or jump. You can determine the position your dog moves and stop it from jumping up.
- Front-clip leashes are more easily tied up in your dog’s legs. Watch your dog to make sure it doesn’t get tripped up or twisted in the leash. If it does, stop and untangle the dog.
To attach a basic harness to your dog, place the unbuckled harness on the ground, and instruct your dog to "sit" just behind the harness on the ground. Place the dog's front paws in the correct loops on the harness, and then pull the harness up their legs toward their chest. Secure the harness clips around the dog's neck and chest, and then secure the clips around the dog's abdomen. Adjust the straps to make sure they're snug, but not squeezing your dog.
- Choose a harness that fits your dog properly. Check the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer of the harness you want to purchase to make sure it’ll fit your dog.
- If your dog doesn’t like wearing its harness, you can get it used to the harness by letting it wear the harness for 5-10 minute periods. Play with your dog before and after you put on the harness, and give the pup treats as a reward.
- If your dog has a tendency to pull and jump, you can find harnesses that tighten up on your dog when it misbehaves. You will put the harness on the same way you do a traditional harness, but it will tighten if the dog pulls or jumps. When using these harnesses, make sure your dog never feels pain.
- A harness that is too tight can hurt your dog. Similarly, a loose harness could allow your pup to slip out, making the harness ineffective.
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