5 Best Steps to Train Your Dog to Wear a Dog Harness

5 Best Steps to Train Your Dog to Wear a Dog Harness

Training dogs to walk calmly on a leash is an essential aspect of pet ownership that ensures safety and good behavior in public spaces. While many pet owners opt for a collar, a harness provides more control, distributes pressure more evenly around the dog’s body, reducing strain on their neck and back. However, transitioning from a collar to a harness or introducing a puppy to a harness for the first time can be a challenge. This guide outlines five best practices to make the process smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your dog.

What are the benefits of wearing a dog harness?

Before diving into the training practices, it’s crucial to understand why a harness is a beneficial tool for leash training. Unlike collars, which can put pressure on a dog’s throat, harnesses distribute the force across a larger area of the body, reducing the risk of injury. This is particularly important for breeds prone to respiratory problems or those that tend to pull on the leash. Additionally, harnesses provide better control over your dog’s movement, making walks safer, especially in crowded or potentially dangerous environments.

1. Gradual Introduction to the Harness

Start with a Positive Association

The key to successful harness training is ensuring your dog associates the harness with positive experiences. Begin by introducing the harness during a calm, quiet time when your dog is relaxed. Place the harness near their sleeping area or with their toys, allowing them to naturally explore it. Every time they show interest in the harness, reward them with treats or affection. This association builds a foundation of trust and curiosity.

The Sniff and Reward Method

Encourage your dog to sniff and interact with the harness by placing treats around and inside it. This method makes the harness a source of good things, easing future training sessions. Patience is crucial during this phase; never rush or force the harness on your dog, as this can lead to anxiety and resistance.

2. Positive Reinforcement and Consistency

Treats and Praise

As you begin to put the harness on your dog, continue using treats and verbal praise to reinforce positive behavior. Start by slipping one paw through the harness, then reward. Gradually work up to fastening the harness, ensuring to reward each step of progress. Use a cheerful, encouraging tone to make the experience as pleasant as possible.

Consistent Training Sessions

Short, consistent training sessions are more effective than sporadic, longer ones. Aim for daily practice, gradually increasing the duration the harness is worn. Consistency in commands, treats, and praise helps your dog understand what is expected, making the learning process faster and more enjoyable.

3. Ensuring the Right Fit

A correctly fitting harness is vital for your dog’s comfort and safety. A harness that’s too tight can cause discomfort or chafing, while one that’s too loose may not provide adequate control. Follow the manufacturer’s sizing guide and adjust the straps according to your dog’s size and shape. Regular checks and adjustments are necessary as your dog grows or if their weight changes.

Trial and Error

Finding the perfect fit may require some trial and error. Observe your dog’s reaction to the harness during walks. Signs of discomfort or irritation should prompt an adjustment. If problems persist, consider trying a different style or size.

4. Incorporating Walks into Training

Once your dog is comfortable wearing the harness indoors, it’s time to venture outside. Start with short walks in familiar, quiet areas to minimize distractions. Gradually introduce more challenging environments, such as busier streets or parks. Always monitor your dog’s comfort and behavior, adjusting the training pace as needed.

Distraction Training

Outdoor training sessions are an excellent opportunity to teach your dog to focus on you despite distractions. Use treats and commands to maintain their attention, rewarding calm and obedient behavior. This not only reinforces harness training but also improves overall leash manners.

5. Patience and Understanding

Every dog learns at their own pace, and it’s essential to remain patient and understanding throughout the training process. Celebrate small victories and don’t be discouraged by setbacks. If your dog struggles with a particular step, take a break and revisit it later. Sometimes, a different approach or more time is all that’s needed.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you encounter persistent difficulties, consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer. They can offer personalized guidance and strategies tailored to your dog’s temperament and learning style.


Transitioning to a harness can significantly improve your walking experiences, offering more safety and control. By following these best practices, you can ensure a smooth and positive training process for you and your dog. Remember, the key to success lies in patience, consistency, and a deep understanding of your dog’s needs and responses. With time and practice, your dog will learn to associate the harness with enjoyable walks and adventures, making it an indispensable tool for their well-being and your peace of mind.

QQPETS is the leading wholesale dog accessories supplier of adjustable harnesses for dogs and other items that people may use when walking their dogs. Our goal is to make dog walking easy for pet owners by providing valuable accessories. We offer a variety of customization services including custom logos, custom graphics, custom products and more. If you want to start your dog products business, check out our website and contact us today.


Article by

Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

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Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

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