What do you do when your dog doesn’t like a harness? Let’s Explore

Why does my dog hate their harness?

It’s not uncommon for some dogs to hate wearing a harness. Puppies, for example, often struggle in the first few months of having to wear one purely because they’re not used to it, while rescue dogs may dislike their harness because they associate it with a previous negative experience.

To help you figure out what it is about the harness that might be triggering your dog, here are some of the most common reasons that a dog may hate wearing a harness:

Imagine that you were small and you had a much bigger person coming towards you and trying to get up close and personal with you so they could put some strange contraption over your head. It might freak you out a bit, right? Well, the same is true for our canine companions. Often their dislike of their harness is simply because they’re scared of it and don’t like the feeling of having it put on them.

They’re allergic to the harness material.

Dogs can be allergic to a long list of materials used to make harnesses including nylon, certain types of metal, and the chemicals used in dye. If your dog is allergic to their harness, it should be easy to confirm. Check the areas where their skin comes in contact with the material while paying special attention to the sensitive skin in the armpits and around their belly. There’s also the chance of symptoms showing up in other areas where the harness never touches. The face and groin areas are the most common. Signs of an allergic reaction include bald patches, blister-like lesions, hives, or obsessive licking of a specific area.

You can have your suspicions, but the only way to confirm a dog is allergic to their harness is to talk to a vet. They’ll most likely collect a skin scraping to rule out the possibility of mites or a yeast infection. Wag! says,

In the meantime, research what kind of material your current harness is made up of and shop for something different.

Previous negative association with dog harnesses

What do you do when your dog doesn’t like a harness?

If your dog has ever had a bad experience wearing his harness, he may have developed an association with it that’s anything but positive. Dogs don’t have the cognitive ability that we do. Still, they remember things in their own way, so if puppies have been startled when wearing the harness, had a stressful visit to the vets or been attacked by another dog, they may associate the harness with these events and refuse to let you put the harness on.

Dog Hates Harness (How to get your dog to love their harness)

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to take Niffler to puppy kindergarten. He was excited, spinning and wagging his tail. But when I reached for his harness, he pinned his ears and ran under the desk.

I was using a Ruffwear Front Range harness, which pulls over his head and then buckles behind his armpits. I’m sure that putting a harness over your head takes some getting used to – but I also noticed that Niffler avoided me when I tried to put on his collar.

So what do you do if your puppy runs away when you try to put on his harness or collar?