Why is My Dog Afraid of His Harness?

By Bethany Tate

Is your dog afraid of his harness and you can’t figure out why? Are you looking for ways to help your dog overcome their fear of dog harnesses?

In this article we take a quick look at why your dog might be scared of his harness. 

The Harness isn’t comfortable 

Your dog could be afraid of their harness because it isn’t comfortable. If a dog harness is the wrong size, or isn’t put on correctly it can constrain, pinch, and even hurt your dog. A harness that is too small or not adjusted right can be especially painful to dogs who pull on their leashes. 

You want the best dog harness for your pup as possible, and that starts with finding the right size. If you’re unsure about which size harness is right for your dog, double check the manufacturer’s sizing guide. The sizing guide can usually be found on the company’s website, the site you bought the dog harness from, or the original packaging the harness came in. 

Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Feel Constrained

Some dogs are scared of harnesses because they want to let it all hang out. They don’t like being constrained. This could be because the harness isn’t comfortable, or because a dog had a bad experience in the past being constrained in some way. The harness reminds them of their bad experience and they are afraid to repeat it again. 

They had a bad experience with a harness in the past

If you have a rescue dog or you’re not the first owner of the dog, you don’t necessarily know how your dog was trained to use a harness. It could be that he or she wasn’t even trained on a dog harness at all. If using a harness was stressful for your dog with their previous owner, then they will automatically assume that it will be just as stressful with you.

If this is the case, then  you will want to work with your dog to build new positive associates with their harness to desensitize them to it. 

Your Dog Doesn’t Like the Harness Going Over His Head

Your dog simply might not like it when things go over their head. Luckily this is a pretty easy fix, as there are dog harnesses available that don’t need to be put on over a dog’s head. 

Also if your dog is used to walking with a collar, then it might take some time for them to warm up to a dog harness. Again, building positive associations with the dog harness will help your dog warm up to the idea of wearing it. 

Your Dog Doesn’t Want to go on a walk

It might not be the harness that your dog is afraid of. Your dog could be scared of wherever he thinks he will go in the harness. Whether that’s a walk, a ride in a car, or to a specific place like the vet or groomer; your dog could see the harness as a sign that he’s going to the place he doesn’t like. 

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Bethany Tate
Writing and analyzing data are her superpowers. Dogs, nature, and trail running are her oxygen. Bethany passionately believes pets make the world a better place. Her world is made better by Nemo, her pet dachshund.