Harness Trouble

mechi2

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
My 12 week old puppy is terrified of the harness, I only managed to get it on her 3 times. She squirms, cries and yelps as if I'm hurting her. What do I do?
 

mechi2

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
Yeah, I try to do that but most of the time I'm not able to get the harness on her. And I'm worried she might get so traumatized that it will ruin her friendly easy going personality.
 

TTouch

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Introduce the harness as positive such as when you feed her, undo the clips so you can just lay it over her back ( so no fiddling/no trying to fit it/no putting it over her head or lifting her legs/ no clipping it on her) If after a week each time you feed her she is still squirming, then get a bandage, undo it, fold it into a quarter the size and use that to lay over her back, so she gets used to something lightweight touching her back, once she is used to that retry using the harness.

You can use the bandage (an elasticated one if you have one ) to do a DIY quarter wrap, fold in half, wrap middle of bandage around the front of her chest , bring each end up over her shoulders, cross ends go under her tummy and loosely knot ends together...if it is long, you can cross the ends again and bring the ends up to her back and tie this forms a half wrap.... I call this a 'portable hug' it reduces stress, enables the dog to feel secure ( fireworks or other stress related issues) but it enables the pup/dog to deal with the situation themselves ( without 'needing' a human) so they build self confidence. As you know her size and for wriggly pups and dogs, you can tie the bandage in a circle, put the loop over the pups head so it is on her chest then quickly twist ( near the back of her neck) and over her bum, lift her tail so it 'fits' under the tail it then stops her tucking her tail, which is a submissive/fearful position and so changes how she 'feels'... and that one can be removed as well as put on very quickly

You are best to put on a wrap several times a day for up to 15 mins each time , her body wil still think she has it on even when you take it off.... it is a bit like if you put an elastic band on your own wrist, even when you take it off you still feel it for a while
 

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mechi2

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
Thanks for those suggestions. She makes a run for it soon as she sees the harness. I put the harness on the floor and some food or a toy in front of it, she approaches with caution then backs away. She doesn't seem to mind much if I place it on her back as long as she doesn't see it in my hand
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Can you relax with her on your lap and have the harness handy, then put it on step by step while still calmly holding her and talking gently to her? Good luck, I agree she has to be introduced to it in a positive way slowly, she needs to get over the fear by experiencing the harness. TTouch has a good suggestion.
 

TTouch

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Thanks for those suggestions. She makes a run for it soon as she sees the harness. I put the harness on the floor and some food or a toy in front of it, she approaches with caution then backs away. She doesn't seem to mind much if I place it on her back as long as she doesn't see it in my hand
In that case, I wouldn't personally frighten her any more with the harness for a while , otherwise you are establishing a long term fear of it ( same as you can with a wrongly/misused used/misunderstood 'command word')
She is a baby and sounds like a confident baby however EVERYTHING is brand new and you want to encourage her confidence, not knock it, so there is no need to force the issue.
As humans we want everything sorted out yesterday but we humans have the ability of speech and an explanation of why we do things however for dogs if you break trust early on they do hold onto things as it brings up 'bad memories' each time they see it and react as they did at the start as they work on 'how it feels' so it can take a long time (or never) for them to get over those things.
She needs to get used to your hand, holding anything and the bandage/wrap is soft and gentle and an ideal way for her to gain confidence and trust in you and accept ANYTHING you want/need from her, so build up to her seeing you holding it, while rolled up, stroke her with it like that and then draping it over her and it doesn't matter if it falls off just gives you the opportunity to place it on her again.
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
In that case, I wouldn't personally frighten her any more with the harness for a while , otherwise you are establishing a long term fear of it ( same as you can with a wrongly/misused used/misunderstood 'command word')
She is a baby and sounds like a confident baby however EVERYTHING is brand new and you want to encourage her confidence, not knock it, so there is no need to force the issue.
As humans we want everything sorted out yesterday but we humans have the ability of speech and an explanation of why we do things however for dogs if you break trust early on they do hold onto things as it brings up 'bad memories' each time they see it and react as they did at the start as they work on 'how it feels' so it can take a long time (or never) for them to get over those things.
She needs to get used to your hand, holding anything and the bandage/wrap is soft and gentle and an ideal way for her to gain confidence and trust in you and accept ANYTHING you want/need from her, so build up to her seeing you holding it, while rolled up, stroke her with it like that and then draping it over her and it doesn't matter if it falls off just gives you the opportunity to place it on her again.
All good points.
 

mechi2

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Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
Waiting will make the problem worse. I know she would get used to the harness quickly if it's associated with going outside where she could explore and sniff. But I can't get the thing on her. Maybe a different kind of harness? I'm using one of those step in harnesses.
 

TTouch

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
It is not the type of harness you are using it is the fact it is touching her in places she was 'unaware ' of and she will realise she is bigger ( and that takes some getting used to).
I use the wrap for clients who wish to use a harness and once you have a wrap tied loosely on her, she will quickly get used to 'something' touching her skin and you will be able to put the harness on her.
As puppies grow so quickly they don't realise their size increases and a harness 'shows them', you can see dogs who have grown ( and don't realise) as they chase their tail, or bite their back legs as they don't realise those bits 'belong' to them.

I had a client whose dog was 'clumsy' she would knock over everything with her back end/tail a couple of days using a wrap and she now knows her back end and tail are part of her....so no coffee cups have bit the dust since then, as she now knows her size.
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Waiting will make the problem worse. I know she would get used to the harness quickly if it's associated with going outside where she could explore and sniff. But I can't get the thing on her. Maybe a different kind of harness? I'm using one of those step in harnesses.
I agree, you should try to get a harness that is easy to put on, not a step in. Also, taking her for a short walk to get her mind off of it is best. Do you have a friend or neighbor who can gently help you put the harness on her that you have now? Once it's on and she has had a few walks in it, she should get used to the one you have now too. Good luck, I have no suggestions for type of harness, but an online search will find you ones good for small dogs like Chihuahuas.
 

mechi2

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Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
The step in harnesses are suppose to be as easy as they come, just place it on the floor with the dog standing in the opening and you pull the straps up over its back, easy peasy. Maybe I'll have better success with one made out of a softer material.
 

TTouch

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
I have about every kind of harness that exists so clients who wish to use one can try before they buy and I can advise before they spend a fortune and many of them simply don't work, are restrictive, rub on their legs as they are 'general' and not fitted to the dog properly. Your baby is tiny and will remain tiny so the fleece harness would be perfect if you wish to use a harness.

I personally day to day don't use a harness. The ones I would use with my own dogs are the fleece harnesses ( and that is only for a specific purpose) like these with a front clip and back clip ( to use with a double ended lead for balance) with them there is no stepping in, two clips on the side, the 'head part' just goes over their head and the clips attach at the sides and can be adjusted to fit and they are easy, soft and replicate the wrap, they also don't get tangled and twisted.
https://www.leadingdog.co.uk/products/snuggle-pet-standard-fleece-harness-small?variant=37425616355511&currency=GBP&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic&cmp_id=12406046092&adg_id=119609643553&kwd=&device=c&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6urq64Ts9wIVVODtCh1hngEvEAQYASABEgLZR_D_BwE
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
The step in harnesses are suppose to be as easy as they come, just place it on the floor with the dog standing in the opening and you pull the straps up over its back, easy peasy. Maybe I'll have better success with one made out of a softer material.
Maybe you just need to be more confident yourself, and just do it. The dog senses your stress about it.....could that be an issue? I am very empathetic to creatures and sometimes I've found that's not a good thing.
 

mechi2

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Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
I think you may be right, when she starts crying I feel like I'm hurting her and I let her go
 

mechi2

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Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
It's not getting any better, I got the harness on her Saturday and took her out onto the patio. She refuses to walk with the leash and doesn't seem to show any interest in being outside. When I put her on the grass she started whimpering. Today I wasn't successful in getting the harness on. This is going to be a challenge.
 

mechi2

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Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
Oh yes, I can get her harness on easily now, she doesn't fight me anymore. She likes going in the backyard and on the front porch but she doesn't like walks. She whimpers and lies down on the sidewalk, but on the way back home she runs like a greyhound chasing after a rabbit. But slowly it's getting better. Thanks for asking.
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Oh yes, I can get her harness on easily now, she doesn't fight me anymore. She likes going in the backyard and on the front porch but she doesn't like walks. She whimpers and lies down on the sidewalk, but on the way back home she runs like a greyhound chasing after a rabbit. But slowly it's getting better. Thanks for asking.
You made my day, that sounds wonderful! Sooo happy she's come around on that and is enjoying some time outdoors with you. I know it took a lot of patience on your part, and I'm sure she loves you for it.

Has she met or socialized with any other dogs yet? I was thinking if you had a neighbor with a dog she's friendly with, the neighbor could walk their dog ahead of you, and she'd be more comfortable with walks....just a thought. :)
 

mechi2

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Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
She doesn't pay much attention to people or dogs, sometimes she will watch them as they pass by, if someone tries to pet her she becomes scared and backs away. But that's okay as long as she doesn't bark or act aggressively. She's a good dog, she's quiet and sleeps through the night. My only annoyance with her is she jumps to get a attention and likes chewing on fingers and clothes rather than her toys.
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
She doesn't pay much attention to people or dogs, sometimes she will watch them as they pass by, if someone tries to pet her she becomes scared and backs away. But that's okay as long as she doesn't bark or act aggressively. She's a good dog, she's quiet and sleeps through the night. My only annoyance with her is she jumps to get a attention and likes chewing on fingers and clothes rather than her toys.
I bet if I met her I could get her to relax and trust me. Many times I've met folks with rescued dogs who were shy or afraid of people. I am sincere, usually get down, speak softly to them, let them smell the top side of my hand then gently pet them under the chin when they're ready. After that, if I see them again, they are much better and not so afraid.

It's good that she's not aggressive, that's for sure. I kept tiny rawhide bones in my pocket when I was training my pups not to chew. I just calmly said, NO, you chew this. When they tired of it and walked away, I pocketed it for my next lesson.....worked like a charm. I never left them down as they could be a choke hazard, but they are an excellent learning tool.

You're doing a great job with your girl, hugs from me for both of you. 🧡
 

mechi2

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Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Canada
Original Poster
Today's walk went well, I didn't have to nudge her as much and she stopped several times to sniff. On the way back home she stopped to sniff also, and she didn't run
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Today's walk went well, I didn't have to nudge her as much and she stopped several times to sniff. On the way back home she stopped to sniff also, and she didn't run
(y)
 


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