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Help! Pup won't let me put his harness on.

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Henry

See my butt??- Let's be- friends!!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Jun 19, '12 6:31pm PST 
Okay guys, I need some help. My 5 lb puppy (almost 4 months) Henry REFUSES to let me put his harness on - he usually mouths and does a sort of snuffy-snarl thing. But this morning he bit so hard that he drew blood. After the initial struggle, he's happy as a lark to go out on his walk or ride in the car and doesn't fuss, but as soon as it's time to take it off he goes berserk again. This is the second harness he's gone through.

The first was a step-in harness similar to this:
http://www.amazon.com/Reflective-Nitelife-Small-Harness-Turqu oise/dp/B005PUSKIY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1340156565&sr=8-2&keywords =step in harness

I had to get a different style though because he chewed it up and wriggled out of it (did I mention he's a contortionist?). So I got one of these:
http://www.thenewyorkdogshop.com/pusomehaornc.html

Like I said, he wears it fine - it's just the putting it on and taking it off that's the problem. I've tried giving treats (that worked for about 3 days) but he just won't give it up. Now that he's drawn blood, I'm getting worried. Help?

Edited by author Tue Jun 19, '12 6:43pm PST

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Kodiak

The cheese ninja
 
 
Barked: Tue Jun 19, '12 6:41pm PST 
I'd probably by a new one of a different color, so you aren't starting at a disadvantage, and start really, really slow. Treat and praise him for sniffing it, touching it, etc. then pick the harness up, then let it touch his skin gently, then put it over his back but don't snap it, buckle one strap and then take it off quickly, etc. I'd say no faster than one progression a day, and maybe slower. Give lots of treats, maybe even something amazing like steak.
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Henry

See my butt??- Let's be- friends!!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Jun 19, '12 6:56pm PST 
Do you think I should try a different style? With the Puppia one we are using now, he has to put his head through the collar-type opening...I think this might be the problem, but he was able to get out of the step-in, so I'm not sure what to do...
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Sabi

When the night- closes in I will- be there
 
 
Barked: Tue Jun 19, '12 10:33pm PST 
I am all for gentle training and respect but really? He won't let you?

I am not trying to be mean or rude but I really wonder if we don't over think things sometimes. You have a 5 lb dog telling you what he is going to do. He sounds spoiled and if he bit you he is getting worse. Would you let a human child run around naked because he didn't want to get dressed? And don't tell me children don't bite.
Make sure he is aware of what you are doing and just do it. If he bites put him in a time out and as soon as he is released from his time out go back to putting the harness on. I would also be working on basic obedience. He can't misbehave if he's sitting.
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Squ'mey

too old to eat- any more KD
 
 
Barked: Tue Jun 19, '12 10:52pm PST 
Sabi applauseapplause
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Nare

Woo-woo- whineybutt
 
 
Barked: Tue Jun 19, '12 11:02pm PST 
Just wondering.. But what is the harness used for? Whats its purpose? thinking
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Lisa

Always my angel.
 
 
Barked: Wed Jun 20, '12 12:24am PST 
Nare, most people recommend that small breeds (like Chihuahuas) wear a harness instead of a collar for walks because they have much more delicate necks than large breeds. It's also easier to accidentally pull too hard on the leash and do damage because they're further away from you, if that makes sense. You can do a lot of damage with very little force just because they're so small. So I'm guessing the harness is for walking.

Personally I would stick with the step-in style for now since it sounds like it was easier to get him into that. Make sure you adjust the size on it appropriately, and do your best to get one that fits such that it's hard for him to chew on it. If you're worried about safety, you can try attaching a second leash to his collar as a backup? You'd just have to be careful.

I would also try practicing putting him in and out of the harness around the house. Do it several times throughout the day. Try putting it on and immediately taking it off, putting it on and letting him play for a bit before taking it off, putting it on for a walk, etc. Get SUPER high value treats to work with - it'll hopefully make your life easier. Pick something he goes absolutely crazy for and use it ONLY for harness work.

By the way, does he do OK when you put on his collar? Or does he usually not wear one?
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Taggert

Semper Vorax
 
 
Barked: Wed Jun 20, '12 1:08am PST 
this might be just a reminder, but dogs instnctively don't like things going over their heads. over the head harnesses sometimes are too much for them psychologically, and if he is not getting good experiences while he is getting it on, and then he is jerked around after wearing it, he is not going to want it on. we used yo keep our schnauzer pups in collars until they were almost 1 year just so they are over puppy fears and more likely to accept it, and old enough to understand that wearing one is important.

oh it was a chore to get one on Taggert for the first time. I don't think he had ever worn a collar or harness in his life and he was between 1.5-3 years old when we got him. he was terrified of the roman style going oer the head, and he wouldn't even touch a puppia style.

the step ins on the little guys are easy for them to get their teeth into. both of my dogs had them as first harnesses, and both of them wound up being able to hook their jaw ito it and chew their way out, usually while we were sleeping and were unable to scold them. Chihuahua physiology, tiny, flexible, shorter neck and so forth. they are contortionists. people have to remember that their personality is very much like terrier personality, only they're more flexible. they are ninjas.

We folowed the humane society's direction and used those nylon loop leashes that you thread through the leash and it forms a loop for the neck. they reccomended having one of those and putting it on him and letting him drag it around the house under supervision so that you can help if it gets caught, but he can remove if he feels uncomfortable. it's really easy for him to get it off his neck without someone to hold it on the other end, so he got to feel more comfortable about things that go over the head. When we started with the step in harness, put the harness on the ground, put the dog's paws in the hole, and draw up the harness over the back. it's easier if you face the dog away from you while you do this so that no part of you crosses over the head. tell him he is a good dog when it is on. eventually you will not have a problem, but 4 months is still very young. you can also desensitize them to actions over the head by petting them.

Edited by author Wed Jun 20, '12 1:19am PST

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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Wed Jun 20, '12 2:31am PST 
Try smearing some peanut butter or cheese whiz on the front door, then get it on while he's distracted.
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Kodiak

The cheese ninja
 
 
Barked: Wed Jun 20, '12 2:59am PST 
I don't have a little and haven't dealt with harness resistance, so I can't speak to the head issue. Kody's goes over his head, but he has never seemed to mind. I agree that allowing him to bark you off can contribute to the problem because he learns that growling gets rid of things he doesnt't like, but I still think that a slow introduction is best. It allows you to find out which step in the process is causing the problem or determine that it's just too fast or too overwhelming. Bites even from tiny dogs hurt, and you want to know that other people can handle your dog in an emergency. It's definitely good to get him used to being touched all over. You will be glad of it when you're treating a hurt paw, inspecting a bitten tongue, grooming, etc etc. It's more work, but I think it's well worth the time and effort to be slow and positive. You are HUGE to him, and it's easy to get overwhelmed.
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