How to Get Your Dog Used to a Harness | Pupford

March 28th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

Featured Image

Have you gone to put a harness on your dog and they just aren't having it? Then when you put it on they aren't wanting to walk or cooperate?

It might be because they haven't been desensitized to it yet! While we may think that it is best to just throw them in the deep end and let them figure it out, it is actually really important to work at your dog's pace and slowly get your dog used to a harness.

In this video, Holly Ovington CPDT-KA teaches you how to get your dog used to a harness, safely and humanely!


Desensitization is the process of introducing your dog to a stimulus at a very low intensity. It is usually used in situations where a stimulus would warrant a negative reaction from our dogs. Like a harness, bathtub, muzzle, car, etc.

When introducing the stimulus at a low intensity and then working gradually to more intense levels of intensity, you are able to desensitize your dog through exposure.

If your dog is afraid of something (or even just when introducing your dog to a new thing for the first time), using a positive stimuli and working to keep your dog under their threshold when desensitization work happens, you can work to try to combat their fears of different things.


Holly has been passionate about dogs from the get-go! Holly was part of 4-H dog clubs from a young age, learning to train and show her own dogs.

Holly is certified with the Karen Pryor Academy, a Fear-Free Certified Trainer, an Instructor for Dog Biz Dog Walking Academy and Walks N' Wags First Aid Certified and runs Positive Paws Training in the Vancouver area.

Connect with Holly via her website.

Connect with Holly via Instagram.

Connect with Holly via her podcast.


For teaching you how to get your dog used to a harness, Holly demonstrates with a puppy using the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness.

PS- For some extra reading check out our dog collar vs harness article.


  1. Start with the harness on the ground near your dog and feed your dog treats off of the harness.
  2. If your dog has an aversive feeling to the harness you may need to start further. Have the harness further away and give them treats.
  3. The next step would be to act like you are putting on the harness. You can start by feeding treats through the harness and slowly get them to put their head further in.
  4. Now, you can use a food lure to guide your dog to go through the harness, then say yes and treat.
  5. Then you can take it a step further and put the harness over their next quickly and then remove it and reward. Slowly keep it on them longer and longer.
  6. Now, you can work on the clicking sound. When you clip and unclip be sure to reward right away!
  7. Then clip with the harness on your pup and get them comfortable with that on one side, then both!

The key to making your dog love the harness is to approach it slowly, patiently, and do not force your dog too quickly to wear the harness.

Have other questions about getting your dog comfortable wearing a harness? Let us know in the comments!


Your Cart

Shipping & taxes calculated at checkout