Many people who own more powerful dogs that are prone to pulling will opt to use a harness instead of a collar. It makes it easier to restrain them, as the harness pushes against the chest, but also doesn’t end up choking a dog, like a collar does, if they pull. It can often be more comfortable for the dog as well, especially those that are padded on the inside. You may think the idea of training your dog to walk on a harness is a little daunting. However, it’s not nearly as hard as it may seem, and with this guide you’ll be walking your dog on a harness in no time.
When Should I Start Lead Training?
A commonly asked question is how old your dog should be before you start the training. You can start up as soon as you get your puppy by letting them wear the harness for short periods of time while around the house. This helps them to get used to the feeling. You can also lead walk them on it around the garden, but do not reprimand them for pulling. The first two weeks in your home should only hold positive experiences for your puppy. Just let them get a feel for the harness.
Learning to Bring to Heel
The most key part of harness training is learning to heel. This is very important, as it reduces the amount of pulling (or stops it completely) and leads to a more relaxed walk for both of you. It also helps keep your dog under control for both of your safety. Learning to heel can take time, but it’s often easier to achieve with a harness.
Make sure you use clear commands and hold the lead firmly when you are about set off. Commands like “let’s go” are simple and effective. Every time your dog is in step with you and by your side, reward them with praise and a treat to reinforce this good behaviour.
If your dog begins to pull, use a kind and simple command like ‘easy’ or ‘heel’ to keep them in check and remind them of the good way in which they were behaving before. If the pulling continues, then loosen the lead and turn around back towards home. The dog will learn that pulling results in no walk. Once they behave again, you can resume your original direction.
The whole process requires a lot of repetition and patience, but you will get there in no time at all.
Things to Remember When Lead Training
Here are some important things to remember when you go to buy a harness and use it on your dog.
- Make sure the harness fits correctly, and that it is not too loose or too tight
- Ensure you are calm and not stressed when you train your dog
- Remember that practice makes perfect, as does persistence
- Buy a harness from a reliable brand so you know it won’t come apart
- Always reward your dog for good on-harness behaviour
Harness training really isn’t hard at all. Just remember to buy a harness that fits well, to be persistent with training, and to always reward your dog for good behaviour. It won’t take long, and dogs love the whole process of training – especially the rewards! So for a more comfortable walk, and one that you and your dog enjoy consider a harness and follow these little training tips.