Get Dressed for Harness Success

By Liz MacHaffie

Does your dog get an uncontrollable case of the wiggles when you take out his harness? Some dogs are so excited, it feels like we have to wrangle and wrestle their harnesses on! Other pups are sensitive souls and would rather be chased around the house than allow that harness to go over their heads.

But, there’s great news: Dogs can learn to help put their harnesses on!

Yup! You can teach your pup to “get dressed”. You’ll have a dog who happily walks into his harness and stands still while you fasten it! Here’s how to do it:

Teach Your Dog to “Get Dressed”

You’ll need your harness and some tasty treats your dog enjoys!

Part 1:  Teach your dog to put his head into the harness

  • With one hand, hold the harness open in front of you, right around your dog’s height. (But don’t put it on him!) Hold this hand still.
  • Take a few treats in your other hand and hold them just behind the harness, so that your dog has to put his nose into the harness to eat.
  • As soon as your dog eats the treats, take the harness away.
  • Repeat this several times, moving your hand back further and further, so that your dog has to put his head further through the harness.
  • Continue until your dog is comfortably putting his head through the harness and you can rest it on his back.
  • Once you would bet money that your dog will put his head in, you can start to teach him the words! Say “Get dressed” right before you present the harness. 

Part 2: Teach your dog to wait while you fasten the harness

Now that you’ve got a dog who can put his head in his harness, you need him to stand still while you buckle him in! 

  • Ask your dog to “Get dressed”.
  • Once his head is through the harness, place a small handful of treats on the ground directly in front of him. Snap him in while he snuffles up the treats!
  • As soon as you snap the last buckle, place one more treat on the floor in front of him.  (Don’t make him turn his head.)
  • Over several repetitions, start to put fewer and fewer treats on the floor. Always put down that last treat right after you snap the last buckle!
  • Finally, only give your dog a treat at the very end, right after the last buckle! (If this is really hard for him, you can put the last treat down on the ground and cover it with your foot until you’ve done the final snap.)

Check out the video for more info and to see this training in action with the Freedom Harness

Not only is this adorable, it’s a great way to build your relationship with your dog. Is your dog excitable? Timid? Giving dogs choices instead of using force is a great way to build their self-control and confidence. Have fun training your pup to “Get dressed”!

About the Author: Liz MacHaffie is on a mission to bring dog families more joy and less stress! Her expert training and writing is backed by her Master’s degree in Clinical Animal Behavior and positive, science-based methods. You can find her at Animal Insight in North Carolina.

 

 

 

 

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