Why Dogs Pull At Their Harnesses - And How To Train Them To Stop
Wondering why your dog is pulling at their harness? Or if there’s a way to get them to stop pulling?
The reason dogs pull at their harnesses is… well, that they’re dogs! As our dear canine companions, they want to play. They want to interact with the world around them. And they want to do it NOW.
As their caretakers, we can seem downright slow in comparison. On top of that, we’ve attached some strange tether device that keeps them from playing as hard as they like.
It’s in that urge that dogs lean in toward where they want to go, straining against the leash or harness.
Still, just because a leash and harness may not be natural for a dog at first, we know it’s important for their safety.
That’s why today we’re sharing some important details about why dogs pull at their harnesses, along with some behaviors and some harnesses that can help correct that behavior.
Why Dogs Pull At Their Harnesses
There are a few reasons why dogs pull on their harnesses.
The first reason is that they are excited and want to get to where they are going, like to another dog or one of their favorite people.
The second is that they might be trying to get away from something, like an animal they’re scared of.
The third reason for dogs pulling on leashes is that they’re trying to get something, like a toy or a treat, that they see.
Now, these are all natural behaviors. How you respond from this point says everything.
As you may know, dogs have a tendency to repeat behaviors which have favorable results. That’s why we reward them when they sit on command, for example.
Though we may not realize it, when we allow a dog to pull on its harness *and* achieve its objective - meeting that other dog, nabbing that treat - we are reinforcing their behavior.
So before we go too far down that path, let’s learn how to put a stop to harness-pulling behaviors for good.
How to Stop Your Dog From Pulling On Its Harness
There are two main ways to keep your dog from restraining against his leash or harness. The first is to work on modifying their behavior, while the second is more about the harness itself.
Correcting Behavior & Manners For Harness Pulling
While dogs walking contentedly on a leash may be something we see every day, it’s actually a behavior that takes work.
It’s true that some dogs take to walking on a leash without any problems. Still, the majority will need some instruction, and it’s that instruction that will teach your dog to stop pulling on its harness.
We’ll start with two exercises we’re calling “Good for Nothing” and “Turn The Other Cheek.” We’re still workshopping the names!
Good For Nothing
To work on this exercise, you’ll need to bring some of your pup’s favorite treats on your next walk.
The goal? To reward them everytime they do the right thing. In this case, that behavior is walking without pulling you. By doing nothing, they’re being good!
I know, it may feel a bit funny at first to just stop and praise your dog for doing nothing special… but it’s that nothing special which will make all the difference.
Turn The Other Paw
Earlier, we talked about how by letting your dog get away with pulling, we’re teaching them that pulling is okay.
In this exercise, we work to correct that.
The next time you are out walking and your dog begins to pull, just stop in place. Bring them back to your side, either by calling their name or with a piece of food. When they come back, praise them, then offer some more food.
You can repeat as necessary. Another variation is to simply stop until there is slack in the leash. This might result in you stopping every few seconds. That’s okay. The goal is to make sure they know that pulling the leash won’t get them anywhere.
A more extreme method is to completely turn around when they pull. Change directions, stop, turn, slow down - what matters is that you’re breaking the connection between your pup’s pulling movements and the “reward” of getting where they’re going.
How Dog Harnesses Help With Pulling
Wondering which dog harness is best to stop pulling? For many dogs, an appropriately fitted H-style or Y-style harness can be an excellent way to keep them from pulling.
In contrast to other options where pressure is localized in the neck or face, harnesses spread any pressure throughout the chest and flank, areas that are less sensitive.
As a result, your dog will feel more comfortable wearing a well-fitted harness rather than being led by a collar or donning a head-collar.
From there, it’s about choosing the right harness. These are some of the most important qualities that both lead to your dog’s comfort:
- It should be simple to slide on and off
- A choke-free chest support ensures a snug, safe fit
- The leash should attach between dog’s shoulder blades
- Your pup’s joints should be able to move freely
- They should not be able to unbuckle their own harness
As for what is the best dog harness for a dog that pulls? A no-pull harness, otherwise known as a front-clip harness helps deter excessive pulling thanks to having the leash attached to a point at your dog’s chest.
If a dog is tempted to pull, that attachment point ends up swiveling them back toward you. Not only does this give you as their owner more control, it is also a subtly effective way at teaching your pup the right way to behave.
Picking Out A No-Pull Dog Harness For Your Pup
We hope this was a helpful conversation about why dogs pull at their harnesses and how to teach them better behaviors.
While training your dog can get a bit technical and repetitive at times, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. If you’re looking for a fashionable no-pull dog harness for your pup, our Woofstock Luxury Walking Set comes with an upgraded D-front ring to help specifically with no-pull behaviors.
At Doodle Couture, we pride ourselves on creating diva-approved dog gear that’s as fashionable as it is safe.
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