Want your dog to love wearing their harness? You may just get them there with this trainer's simple tip

Person taking their English bulldog for a walk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How does your dog feel about wearing their harness? Some dogs are happy to wear one without any issues, but others might kick up more of a fuss — all dogs are different, after all!

When dogs don’t like wearing their harness, it’s often the act of us putting the harness on them that they don’t enjoy — dogs aren't always keen on things going over their head, and can be quite sensitive to it, even if it’s the best dog harness around.

So, how can you help your dog learn to enjoy having their harness on? Well, certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has offered some advice that you might find helpful in a new Instagram post.

“To get them more comfortable, present the harness in a less confrontational position, and feed!” says Goodman.

What you then want to do is hold the treat in the neck hole in the harness, so your dog slightly sticks their nose through. Move the treat back toward you by a couple of inches, to get your pup to put their head through a little further, working your way up to getting your dog to put their entire head through. 

When your dog does so, it’s time for lots of the best dog treats! Then, once your pup’s head is through, you can continue sorting the harness as you would normally. 

“Some dogs are sensitive about things going over their head, but are completely fine once it’s on,” says Goodman, “If your dog tries to go around to get the treat, just guide them back, and show them that the only way to get the food is by sticking their head through.”

Once your dog is comfortable with this, the aim is to get them to come to you and stick their head through the hole voluntarily, rather than you going after them. It’s always their choice to put their head through, however. We don’t want to force them!

After your dog is happy doing this, you can move to putting the harness on first, and delivering the treat afterward. Goodman explains, “You’ll know you’ve done it right if your dog looks completely unbothered.”

And remember, while this is a simple solution, it’s important to give your dog time to become comfortable with the harness. As Goodman puts it, “If you give your dog choice and take the pressure off of them by letting them decide what to do, they will feel more comfortable pushing themself. So be patient and go slow. This will get you further, faster than forcing it.”

But, is it safe to leave a harness on a dog all the time? You can find out here. 

Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness Nylon Reflective No Pull Dog Harness 
$36 at Chewy

Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness Nylon Reflective No Pull Dog Harness
$36 at Chewy
Sturdy and easy to use, this powerhouse of a harness features a breathable lining for comfort and reflective chest straps and side labels for maximum visibility. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at DogTime.com, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.