My puppy absolutely hates his harness.

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My puppy absolutely hates his harness.

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Old 10-03-2014, 09:23 PM
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My puppy absolutely hates his harness.

Hi! My pup is 5 months old and I've had issues with harnesses and collars since I've gotten him. I don't know why this started; he was 9 weeks old when I got him and he was fine with it then, but after a bit of not wearing one, he now lunges and growls when I try to put anything on him. To my knowledge, nothing happened while he was harnessed/leashed to elicit this reaction. I was using H harnesses, and I tried to switch to step-in, and those are a tad simpler if I distract him with food and have him walk over it like a trap. If I try to touch it, whether to remove it or put a leash on, he growls and tries to bite me. I can hear his teeth hitting each other! I don't know what the issue is; he likes walks as soon as we get out of the fence. But getting him on that leash is a difficult adventure. I'm not sure what to do; if he sees a harness in my hand, he hides and if he sees me trying to put the leash on him, he also tries to get away. Please help me! I'm sure there are other topics on this, but I'm on mobile and I'm getting pretty frustrated.
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Old 10-03-2014, 10:28 PM
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Did he receive any sort of leash correction while on harness? Are you certain that the harness is not hurting him in some way? Do you act frustrated when he acts up when you are trying to put on the harness? Any of those things, or a combo of them, could cause him to be reacting the way he is.

My boy was starting to play can't catch me when I went to put on one of his harnesses, but once I got it on he seemed fine. I kept picking him up when he'd try to avoid it and put it on him thinking he only needs to learn that the harness means a fun walk. That lasted till he not only tried avoiding me, but also went and hid in his crate, after that I stopped using that harness. All I can figure out is that the harness was uncomfortable in some way that I can't pinpoint. That may be the case with your dog, the harness and or collar is uncomfortable in some sort of way.

You can do counter conditioning exercises and see if that helps. To do that you'd break down putting on the harness into little, bitty, steps and get him used to each step before proceeding to the next. Use treats to get him used to each step.
An example would be...
Take the harness out and toss him treats. Do that until he's happy to see the harness.
Put the harness on the ground and put some treats around it and encourage him to sniff it...
Touch him with the harness while giving him treats.
etc...

Make sure he's comfortable with each step before moving on to the next and when you get to fastening the harness on him, only leave it on for a few seconds before removing it and build up the time you leave it on him slowly.

If he seems really uncomfortable with a step then go back to the previous one and break the next step down into smaller parts.

I've also suggest trying different collars and harnesses to see if there's any he likes, it really may be that the harness and collar is causing him some sort of discomfort.
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Old 10-04-2014, 02:27 PM
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My dog scratches her collar whenever it's on her. She hates it. She isn't allergic to the material, just doesn't like the feel of it on her neck. So we leave it off her when she's in the house. She doesn't like me putting it on either but doesn't snap.
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Last edited by crock; 10-04-2014 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:07 PM
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Friendly reminder, folks, to please read the training rules here: https://www.dogforum.com/dogforum-com...-please-23692/ and follow them when posting. Absolutely no aversive advice will be tolerated, regardless of context. Further violations will result in infractions.
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:23 PM
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Hi there Serisu,
Welcome to the forum! Rain gave you some good advice to start with. Depending on his size or how close he's come to biting, you might want to consider hiring a trainer or behavior consultant. Here is a good sticky to help locate one: https://www.dogforum.com/training-beh...iorist-113946/

Some videos on counter conditioning, which I second Rain that you start working on for the harness, if you are comfortable and safe from actually getting bitten*:




In the meantime, while I understand any preference for harnesses (I do as well), you should probably try walking on just a collar during the CC process so that you don't backslide in between sessions when you have to take him out. Then, when he's ready to wear the harness again, you can use that for walks.

*I'm going to throw in a reminder to use proper safety equipment, ie a basket muzzle, if you think it is necessary; however, if the aggression is that bad, I'd urge you to hire someone. A dog has to be properly conditioned to wear a muzzle in the first place, or else it will just compound the issues with the harness in the long run.

I'd also suggest you work on body handling issues as he may have some fear/discomfort related to that. Here are some good starting videos:




Also, check out these stickies. It's very important to recognize even the most minute stress signals because most "aggression" is really dogs trying to communicate that they are uncomfortable with something in the way they've learned is most effective for us unobservant humans (ie vocalizing, growling, snapping).
https://www.dogforum.com/training-beh...signals-10084/
https://www.dogforum.com/training-beh...-fallout-4776/ (some great explanations on why you shouldn't correct your pup for being "aggressive")
https://www.dogforum.com/training-beh...rowling-86338/

Hope those help.
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Last edited by crock; 10-04-2014 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 10-05-2014, 06:40 AM
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Oops! I apologize for my reply (now deleted). I can see why it was inappropriate. Those videos are really great.
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