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Why does he hate his harness?
  • So my dog hates his harness. Or more specifically, he doesn't want it put on him - once it's on he's fine and happy.

    Basically, when I figure it's time to go for a walk, I go get harness & leash. Dog realizes this and goes and positions himself around the other side of the dining room table where he's figured out it's easy to avoid me by just keeping the table between us. He won't listen to sit commands, stay commands or anything else - it's basically an attempt to keep as far away from me as possible.

    Eventually, I manage to herd him somewhere where I can get ahold of him and the harness on him (it's an Easy-Walk harness by the way). He turns his head to avoid it, but eventually I get the harness on. He then goes over to the door where he's willing to wait/sit etc. for me to attach the leash so we can go out.

    This is really annoying. I thought dogs were supposed to be doing back flips out of excitement when it was time for a walk.

    We introduced the harness with lots of treats. We treat him when the harness gets put on. He doesn't ever go outside without the harness, so you'd figure I've covered all the positive reinforcement bases for this thing. Yet he tries to avoid it whenever it comes out. And, once it's on - all is well.

    Any suggestions on how to fix this neurosis?
    Post edited by curlytails at 2012-12-12 22:37:07
  • tkfushtkfush
    Posts: 131
    I am interested in everyone's response as well. I think Yuki HATES that her harness has to go over her head and it RuffWear so I can only imagine seeing that thing with all the straps coming at me. Yuki isn't extreme in avoiding me but we do have a side step dance everytime we go on walks which is 3-4 times a day!
    Posts: 50
    Because it makes them feel like this(at first)

    Ninja is finally getting used to wearing it.
  • Stef777Stef777
    Posts: 246
    I am interested in hearing a response as well. Kenduax acts the exact same way as Asterix described
  • That photo is adorable. My Django sometimes acts like he can't walk when I put it on him. Once he stood in the living room like a sad statue... just blinking. But once we get going he's fine. I recommend putting the harness on inside and leaving it on for a period of time, then take it off. The more he gets accustomed to wearing it the less he will avoid it. It will be "normal." This worked for us. Most of the time. We use the Webmaster Harness, also. It's great. Of course they would all rather run free into the woods!
  • Asterix has hit the nail on the head.. I'm thinking Shibas are born with an aversion to "harnessing". Same exact thing happens with Dakota. It is very annoying, especially if I need to walk her on my "schedule" and not "her's". If I leave her alone, eventually she will come up to me and let me pick her up and "harness" her.. But that could be an "hour" after she gets up in the morning. I have as well tried everything in the "book" -- and it is always the same drill. Once the harness is on, she is just fine and loves her walks. Go figure.
  • brscrnsbrscrns
    Posts: 447
    2 of our 3 shibas dislike having their harness put on. I have somewhat conquered the problem by having them come to the front hallway where the door is and then I put on the harness that always has the leash attached to it. Sometimes I do have to play a game of chase with the oldest, and with middle age, I call him to the door, give him a small treat and then put on his harness. The youngest is very anxious to go out. We use a Lupine step in harness.
    Post edited by brscrns at 2012-02-10 15:18:20
  • BrewSterBrewSter
    Posts: 193
    i dont think its just harnesses brewster acts as you described when ever we go to put a collar or leash on him unless he really has to potty or just woke up from a nap
  • Perhaps grab the dog then the harness so they don't know yOu're necessarily planning to harness them?
  • Ando was the opposite for me, When he was under a year old, I had to switch to a harness. He hurt himself by flopping around on the ground, playing dead, then trying to twist his collar off when I would walk him. As soon as I got a harness for him, he walked around fine, and didn't seem to mind it at all.
    Ando - 3 yr old Shiba

  • MayamaMayama
    Posts: 270
    Maya is like that as well. As soon as she sees the harness, she'll start walking around the room to avoid me. I can usually corner her and put it on, but it sure is annoying, especially when we are in a hurry. Like @Asterix, I've been trying everything positive and keeping it on at home, but she still hates it. We used both the easy walk and a normal one (which I call the "easy pull"), and she reacts the same. She'll usually freeze or walk funny in doors, but fine once we go out.
    Shiba Inu Maya's blog and FB page
  • Sakura uses a harness in the car and rather enjoys it I would say. Perhaps because she loves car rides, or perhaps because we stick a treat in her mouth as we put it on her. Maybe that would help? He would then associate the harness with a treat
    Stefanie & Sakura Twin Cities - MN
  • LeoJDHuLeoJDHu
    Posts: 323
    I wonder if this is one of those mysteries that will never be solved.

    Leo is the same way. As far as I can tell, he loves to go outside and go on walks - once I actually get him on a leash/harness, he's totally fine. It's just the process of catching him :P He'll even dodge me for as long as he can when I know he has to pee. Such a weird habit!

    I have a couple theories...
    1. Shibas just don't like to feel like they don't have control. The same way that most shibas don't like to be held for very long.
    2. They want to turn it into a game of cat and mouse - "You want to walk me? You got to earn it! Catch me if you can!!"
    3. All of the above!! :P
    Leo "JD" Hu | Cream Shiba Inu | DOB: 8/19/2011 | Southern California - LA/OC

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    Post edited by LeoJDHu at 2012-02-10 15:43:04
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495
    Like most others, Bootz runs away when she sees the harness. I've already tried the whole association with treats. Doesn't work. As soon as she sees the harness nothing will get her close to me, not even a tasty treat!

    Although i'll have to say she's improving with the harness. She use to freeze up and just stand there. She refuses to sit, lay down, or eat any tasty treats. But now she's doing better (when its on), she runs, eats her treats, goes potty (although i've noticed she has never gone #2 with it on). I think she finally realizes harness time = going to dog park or for a nice walk.
  • I'm still attempting to get the harness on Nia. She also avoids me like the plague. Treats don't cut it. I'll be interested to see other responses for what works. I think most dogs don't like it. But there a few who actually might. I'll keep trying though!
    Shiba In Fan For Life

    Our YouTube Channel With Nia Videos:
  • Zach also hates his harness...when its time to go out he runs and tries to hide. When I finally get ahold of him he acts like I'm being mean. After the harness is on he is fine. He shakes off and then runs to the door. He walks much nicer with the harness on than just his collar.
  • Ponta never had a problem with the harness. His only quirk is stepping into it. When he sees me lay the harness out on the floor, he'll get the idea (by that time he's known for a few minutes we're going for a walk due to my preparation), and he'll circle around and approach the harness. But a few inches short, and he'll stop--he refuses to walk into it. When prompted with a toy or treat, he'll avoid the harness, going around it. Instead, he waits for me to pick him up at the shoulders and place his feet in the harness loops. He then (usually) stands still while I pull up and snap on the harness. The moment he hears the 'snap!' he darts off, shakes, and is ready to go.

    Could it be the type of harness? We use a simple one made of 1/2" nylon fabric like a soft collar. The heavier harness shown above might evoke a different reaction--Ponta looked the same way when we tried his rain suit on him. Similarly, he can't stand tight-fitting socks. But when we put panties on him to help avoid more direct licking at the bandages after neutering, he didn't mind them at all, nor did he object to a loose sock (one of my old ones) tied over his back with a shoestring (his claw was healing after a nail bleed). In short, he seems fairly specific about what he does and does not accept on him.

    Which makes me wonder, where the dogs are having problems with the harness, what is the harness like? Simple nylon bands, or the more elaborate style shown above, or something in between?

    Alas, it may just be the particular dog. Ponta, for example, seems to hate our car (he resists getting in and then pants and whines for 10 minutes or more when we go) despite loving everywhere we go in it. On the other hand, contrary to #1 on LeoJDHu's list above, Ponta is very patient about being held; since he was a pup I discovered that by holding him around the chest with my right hand with his back feet cradled in my left as his rear rested on my wrist/arm, he would immediately calm down and could be held for long periods. Even when left otherwise, he tends to put up with it calmly for a half minute or a minute at a time--my father, familiar with dogs (though never with Shibas), was surprised at this when I held Ponta up in front of Skype for a while.
  • Dakota wears a Sporn mesh harness -- very light and unobtrussive .. I can't imagine I'd ever catch her if I was trying to put a Ruff Wear harness on her.....
  • konpeitokonpeito
    Posts: 281
    We just got a harness for Apollo. Just a generic Boots & Barkley brand for now. I have a video of him trying desperately to get it off lol. He's still not used to it and keeps snapping his head back trying to bite it, but hopefully he'll get accustomed to it soon. Getting his head through the opening was no easy matter, even though we gave him lots of treats through the neck hole. Once I was able to get it around his neck, I had no other choice but to pick him up to put his feet through and buckle it in the back.

    I think eventually, if Apollo still shows a strong dislike of this harness, we might get a lighter one. This one is a tad thick and heavy for a dog his size, but we're hoping he grows into it.
    Apollo the Shiba Blog - red male - d.o.b. 10/30/11
  • My shiba chewed thru his first harness. I take the new one off right away after a walk.
  • AWE46M3AWE46M3
    Posts: 357
    Our dog hates putting the harness on as well. He fights it while we're putting it on, it's a two person job, unless I get him on leash first so he can't try and run! He will act frozen as well at first but once we get outside he's usually OK with it. Getting it on him is that hardest part though.
  • catloreecatloree
    Posts: 1541
    Elwood is the same way with his harness. When I get the harness out, he darts just out of reach & taunts me. He actually has two harnesses, a regular step-in harness & an easy walk harness. He reacts the same way to both of them.

    @FPO LOL! I laughed pretty hard at that photo!
    Catherine (human), Elwood (Shiba), & Sadie (Pomeranian)
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2516
    @FPO Haha! That picture is funny.

    Conker spent the first two or three months with me in a harness (he wore it anytime he was not crated with a leash attached, makes it easier to catch mis-behaving Shiba pup), so he's quite used to wearing one when I got around to getting a Ruff Wear harness.
    He doesn't much like having it put on though, and if he sees it when I call him he will sulk over if he comes at all. He often stops about six feet away and lays down or hides his face. He looks all miserable as I am putting it on, but once it's on and I'm not messing with it anymore...
    Oh, we're going somewhere? OKAY RACE YOU TO THE DOOR!
  • AnnaAnna
    Posts: 621
    Hammond hates his harness as well. He only wears it for car rides (so I can buckle him in), but I'd always have to chase him.

    I've started just leaving it in the car, but all that's done is made him resistant to getting in the car. He won't jump in anymore. :(

    I think he just hates things going over his head. He used to growl or snarl when I'd put the harness on or take it off, but thankfully he's gotten past that. He'll turn he head away or try to dodge when I slip his martingale on as well. At least he doesn't run from that.

    I have the mesh, Puppia-style harness. He used to SCREAM when I'd buckle the chest strap, as though I'd pinched him. I made a conscious effort to keep the buckle at least one inch above his fur when clipping it, but he'd still scream. He walks fine once it's on, but he just really hates it constantly touching him.

    (He also loathed the ThunderShirt when we were given one to test at our Feisty dog class. It did not sooth him at all. He wouldn't move, his ears drooped, and he gave me a really unimpressed look, haha)
  • dorapochdorapoch
    Posts: 131
    Ginko is a bitey one so he'd start biting as I try to put on his Puppia harness. It's so difficult putting it on when you have baby sharp teeth piercing into your skin...any suggestions?
  • Has anyone had a good experience with starting with a harness right away from the moment you got them? I was thinking of putting it on starting with the drive home. so it becomes almost part of him from the beginning.
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2516
    @Reinangel Yes, that is what I did. Got him in the harness right away and started shoving food in his mouth (not literally) to associate the harness with good things.
    Post edited by Losech at 2012-02-15 22:36:39
  • Zim has been fine with his harness from day one. It causes some shiba shakes, but he was fine with it being put on him (I credit his breeder with this, since he's great about being handled) and but for one incident with the too-large Ruffwear (he threw himself on his back and started screaming), he's been fine with it. He basically never has it off since he doesn't go outside without it and we want it there for unexpected potty breaks. He is, however, not terribly fond of clothing.
  • It's been interesting reading the responses here - so far nothing about how to make the dog LIKE (or at least not run away from) the harness - and the consensus that Shibas and harnesses do not go well together.

    The problem for me has been getting the harness ON Chibi - he sees it and plays stay-away. Once it's on he's been fine.

    Thinking about it more, I think part of the problem is one of me not taking the time to win the battle of wills with the dog. Basically - I want to go for a walk and I want dog to put the harness on - now or very close to now. Rather than get the dog to agree to put the harness on of his own initiative, I'm forcing things.

    So, the other day, when I had time, I tried something. Dog wanted to go out (he was over at the door etc). I went and got the harness and a pile of treats. Dog ran away. I sat down and held the harness out. Dog stayed away, but eventually started looking at the harness I was holding out, making growly/yodel-y noises at it - as if he knew that he needed to deal with that harness to get outside.

    Then I took out a treat and held it about 6 inches in front of the harness. Dog came and tentatively took the treat. Kept treating, slowly moving the treat so he had to stick his head through the harness to get it (which he eventually did). At some point I decided "good" and snapped it on him. Then he went over to the door, sat down so I could attach the leash and off we went.

    This all took about 25 minutes though, and usually I don't have the luxury of spending 1/2 an hour (or possibly more) to get the damn harness on him. And 25 minutes was when HE wanted to go out. I can imagine how long it would take if it's a time I want to go out and he'd rather chew on something or sleep or whatever.

    I'm hoping that by using this wait and treat approach - even sporadically - he'll get more of a positive association with the harness and will come to want to put it on.
  • mattzmattz
    Posts: 418
    It's interesting to read everyone's almost identical stories about getting the harness on their shiba! HAHA! I thought I was the only one!

    Etsuko does the "cat and mouse" game EVERY TIME we go to take her for a walk. I bring in the harness, she acts like she's coming over to me, she trots off and circles around the living room, then she comes back like she's ready, then she trots off and circles around again. The ONLY way I can get her in the harness is the pet her by her ears, then stop, then she comes back for more petting, so I pet, then stop, each time getting her closer and closer to me... Then I have to grab her by her legs and position her in the harness and clip it up. After she's in the harness, everything is gravy and the walk is fine. CRAZY that it's a shiba thing!
  • NekopanNekopan
    Posts: 403
    I'm curious, has anyone tried classical conditioning prior to putting on the harness? It really helped my dog with nail clipping, he went from screaming and crying when I clipped his nails to... well, he doesn't exactly like it, but at least he'll sit still until I'm done.
  • mattzmattz
    Posts: 418
    What is classical conditioning?
  • AWE46M3AWE46M3
    Posts: 357
    Something similar to FPO's pic when we first put the harness on:



    Visibly upset, tail uncurls, freezes, etc... Haha He is over a year now and has learned to love the leash but not the harness. Our puppy class trainer and vet both suggested that he's just not comfortable with feeling restrained.
    Post edited by AWE46M3 at 2012-02-17 14:24:47
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495
    ^Bootz was like that. I tried the whole treat thing Losech did. Didn't work for me sadly. But what did work was taking her to the dog park with the harness on. She always gets excited when he gets out of the car and notices shes going to the park. It makes her forget the harness is on. (of course i take it off when we're in the park). I've made this a habit and I've seen a LOT of progress so far. Instead of freezing up now, she knows shes in for a trip to the dog park. She been acting pretty normal with the harness on now. BUT she still hates it when she sees it, always runs away so I cant put it on.
    Posts: 1507
    @Mattz, Classical conditioning is where you play Beethoven, Mozart, etc. for your dog. Actually, it is Pavlovian conditioning where a behavior is elicited using a conditioned stimulus by pairing it initially with a reward. Does that ring a bell?
  • dorapochdorapoch
    Posts: 131
    The treat thing works very well when it comes to putting the harness on Ginko. After that he doesn't mind it at all.

    I do tend to have problems taking off the Puppia harness though, especially the head. Even when he's calm actually... Like I'd either choke him or something while trying to slip it off. Is there a good way to take those off or is it too small for his head?
  • phipsphips
    Posts: 106
    Sunny has no interest in treats whatsoever. i can get the harness over his head but clicking the buckle on his back...not a chance. he shrieks endlessly and runs and hides under tables and chairs and in corners.

    i have no idea what started this as the first 3 days i had him he had no issue whatsoever with either the harness or the leash. he clearly wants to go outside but runs from me when he sees the leash/harness. when they're on, he is ready to go...still shakes occasionally to try and get them off but thats typical.

    so frustrating.
    Sunny: 6/Male/Red Sesame
  • Kuma doesn't like it either, but once we go outside that horrible, horrible harness is soon forgotten. He's more of a silent protester and does the hide-behind-the-sofa/table/whatever procedure every time I pull it out. Haven't done any training with the harness because I know it's not hurting him, he's just being stupid. So I simply go get him and force it on :p
  • DaghainDaghain
    Posts: 113
    OMG I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Keiko does the whole "avoidance" thing too. In the morning, once I get it on her and we get outside, she's fine, but for her afternoon and evening walk she acts like she's 100 years old and can't walk very fast. This just started a couple weeks ago, so I'm not sure what's going on. Any ideas? I wonder if taking some treats along on the walk might help...
  • kagurarapkagurarap
    Posts: 208
    Tali used to act like it was the end of the world with the harness on. She'd go from hyper and mischevious to completely lazy and unmotivated the moment the harness was on. She'd just lay around all day and if I tried to train or play with her, she'd either not bother or just do it with very little enthusiasm, like fetch, imagine me throwing something all excited and she'd just look up at me like meh, and walk to the toy. I was told that she was just being a drama queen and to continue keeping the harness on inside until she got over it. She eventually got over it but one day I found her harness chewed through - which was annoying and luckily it was cheap but that's when I accepted that perhaps a collar would be best.

    She has a collar now inside and is fine with wearing it or me putting it on. If you're really settled on a harness, I recommend the Easy Walk Harness that doesn't have to go over the dog's head because you can snap it in 2 places. When I put this on her, she didn't run away or make me chase her, it was easier to sort of snap on her without her realizing what I was doing. So far the Easy Walk Harness is working out for outside walks.
  • SunnyKenzoSunnyKenzo
    Posts: 13
    O.M.G, I am so glad that I found this thread as my Kenzo is now showing advoidance to leash and harness in every single way he can. So it is true that when a Shina dislikes something, they shows it very clearly. My lil pup always makes a drama when we put the leash on him i.e looking very sad, lying around chewing stuffs, not moving (but still takes treats! hah). Now I try to put the harness on him inside too so he can get used to it. Is it a good thing to do or not. We try treats and praise but still not working though....
  • DaghainDaghain
    Posts: 113
    @kagurarap Does the attachment of the leash on the front, instead of the back, work better? That seems weird to me. Also, what size are you using? Keiko is about 19 lbs. She's a small in a Petsmart traditional harness. I'd like to order online as I can get a discount, but it's hard to determine size.
    Post edited by Daghain at 2013-05-23 00:03:59
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    @Daghain, yes I believe the Easy Walk Harness is a no-pull harness. I believe that is the brand I use with my mixed boy. I highly recommend using no-pull (front-clip) harnesses if you have a pup that otherwise tends to pull. Back clip harnesses can tend to encourage continued pulling on the leash/harness. With the no-pull harness (front clip) if the dog chooses to pull hard or lunge the front clip in essence makes the dog turn towards you to relieve the pressure and then can also get the focus back on you.

    I also find the one I have is very easy to put on. I first clip the strap across the back and chest area then I can reach under and grab the strap that goes under and around and clip that. Very easy smooth process to put on and off if they are standing waiting to go outside.
    Post edited by redcattoo at 2013-05-23 11:24:22
  • DaghainDaghain
    Posts: 113
    I think I'm going to take Keiko to Petsmart and try one on her. It sounds like something she might like better, as her main issue seems to be she does not want the harness to go over her head. Worth a try. Also, she's not a huge puller but sometimes she will nearly gag herself if she really wants something.
  • janjan
    Posts: 41
    Bandit dislike the harness too. But once it's on he's totally fine. We've tried different harnesses and recently got the Freedom no pull harness which has both front and back clip. It's great but I just can't get Bandit to like it...he's ok with collars thought. But we prefer harness because he still jumps / pulls when he's excited.
    See what Bandit's up to from my blog: Shorty&Me
  • DaghainDaghain
    Posts: 113
    I'm always worried about a collar only because their necks are about the same size as their heads. They could easily slip a collar. Thoughts?
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495
    @Daghain, martingale collars.
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
    Heh, I use a martingale collar for 99% of the time whenever I go outside and I prefer it over a harness.
    Lauren, living with a 4 y/o Shiba named after a scientist. ☆
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    I use the martingale collar for Bear because it prevents the easy to slip issue if you size it right. The problem is like any other collar vs a harness, is if the dog tends to pull or walk at the end of leash, it is going to put the pressure on the front of their necks.

    I definitely can see the benefit of a harness for trail walking, especially if you are adding a pack to the dog also. But I think a lot of people using harnesses in a more urban setting are doing it for the pulling effect that takes the pressure away from the front of the dogs throat.

    If your dog is not a puller, a martingale is just fine and if your dog is well mannered even a collar probably isn't a worry as they won't find themselves trying to slip the collar. If your dog tends to pull, walk firmly at the end of the leash, lunges, ect ... than a no-pull (front clip) harness is really a good option to use. If you are doing activities like trail walking or such a good harness with a back clip is probably a very good option.

    Like with everything, I am learning it is about knowing your dog and what your criteria you want to achieve is when making the choice.
  • kagurarapkagurarap
    Posts: 208
    @Daghain Gah I'm late on this thread - hah! But yeah, front clip has worked better for me, Tali is definitely a puller. Still is but she's easier to control with this harness as it's easier to direct her attention back towards me since the harness will turn her sideways if she goes too far. And like I said, no hassle to put it on her versus the over the head one. Tali is probably less than 15 pounds and I got her a small. I think you can return it to Petco if it doesn't fit, I got mine from Petco and the guy said I could bring it back. It needs to fit snugly to let a finger through but remain as close to T shaped on the sides as possible. If it starts looking like a Y even when fulled expanded, then it's too small. It might take a little time and putting it on and off to adjust it to your dog.

    Also agree with the others on a martingale collar, although I still use the easy walk harness for walks, she wears the collar inside. I'm just paranoid with taking her out with the collar only so the harness just makes me feel safer. XD
  • bikingleiabikingleia
    Posts: 212
    Roo has never been bad about pulling on walks so I just use a martingale collar on her. Kai on the other hand loves to try to run at top speed and pounce and jump around like a maniac so I decided to get a harness for her so she would quit choking herself. I was afraid she would absolutely hate it but she just stands patiently while I put it on. I bought a Kong harness that should still fit her when she's full grown and so far it's worked great. It's much easier to put on than the Puppia and won't be as hot with the summer heat. So in short, I guess I lucked out that she doesn't mind it at all!

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