Dogs are adaptable, amazing animals who love us and want to please us. Unfortunately, they don’t speak the same language we do, and communication is sometimes a bit dicey.
We see this often when people bring their dogs into the shop for a fitting – for harnesses, sweaters/coats, carriers, or even boots. We know we’re not going to harm the dog, the people know we’re not going to harm their dog, but all the dog knows is that a stranger with weird things hanging (usually a tape measure) is approaching and it’s scary.
We try to introduce ourselves first, talk to the dog, offer a hand from underneath, offer a treat if the owner says it’s okay. And we try never to hover over the dog from the front, or even approach from the front if possible.
Instead, we’ll approach from the side. If the dog cooperates, we’ll move on to a measurement and gather some options to try.
And when we’re trying any item on a dog, or even “dressing” our own dogs for the weather, we always do it from behind. If you and your dog are both facing the same direction, there’s no hesitation about which is left or right, no doubt about front and back.
The easiest way to put on any harness is to be behind the dog, grasp the harness the way it’s supposed to go on, then (for step-in harnesses) lift each front paw into position and clasp in the back.
Same thing for standard harnesses. Figure out the harness first, pop it over the dog’s head, clasp the tummy strap, and it’s done.
My Roc (Brussels Griffon) was unable to keep up on walks as he aged, so he came along in a Pooch Pack, a carrier that allows you to carry the dog in front. Again, from behind, I’d get the carrier ready to go, zip Roc in, then place him on my lap, his back to my front, while I fastened the shoulder straps on me.
Same idea for Pawz boots. The dog sits in my lap, his/her back to my front, while I put on each bootie.
Also coats. From behind is the way to go.
The longer it takes to “dress” your dog, the less you’ll both enjoy the process. Speed things up by going at it from the rear!