Tag Archives: how to put on dog harnesses

Dog harness horror – good intentions go badly

This week we witnessed a dog harness horror. The owner had the best of intentions, but things went badly awry.

Safety first

A caring dog owner adopted a rescue dog from a shelter. With the dog’s history of winding up in the shelter, she did exactly what she should have – she purchased one of the no-escape, Wrap-N-Go harnesses from us.

To make sure her new, beloved girl was absolutely safe, she even had a friend sew extra industrial-strength Velcro™ on the harness’ straps. She wanted to make sure her dog was always under her control. The new dog, we’ll call her Angel, had a habit of reacting poorly to other dogs on walks. Angel’s new owner was concerned her habit of lunging would result in slipping away.

Too much security

As a result of all the extra security, the harness was difficult to remove. Angel’s owner brought her into the shop this week for a new harness. Angel’s no longer the skinny mite she was at adoption, and might need something a little bigger.

Picture of a Boston Terrier wearing a red dog harness

Angel is, with people, a well-mannered dog. She has short fur, like a Boston Terrier or Miniature Pinscher. When we fit dogs for harnesses, we like to put them up on the counter on a nice, soft rug. “Up” so the dogs are easy for us to see what we’re doing. The rug is so they don’t think they’re at the vet’s office.

We put Angel up on the counter and started wrestling to get the harness off. It wasn’t easy. And what it revealed wasn’t good.

Dog harness horror

Angel’s fur was gone in patches and her skin rubbed red and raw under the logo of the harness. We asked if, by chance, Angel had been wearing the harness full time, 24/7, no relief. She had.

Because the harness was difficult to remove, it turns out they didn’t take it off. Ever. Poor Angel. And poor owner, who was horrified, and guilt-ridden over the raw patch on her dear dog.

Know better, do better

There’s a reason we recommend dogs go naked in the house. Nothing can get caught, and nothing can rub if the dog is wearing nothing. You can see what’s happening with your dog’s fur and skin. And make sure nothing like this will happen to your dog.

Angel’s owner felt absolutely terrible. She asked us to throw the old harness away. And she got a different, secure harness that is easy to put on and take off. 

Angel’s going to be fine. Better than before. We love stories with happy endings. 

Dog Tip Tuesday – It’s better from behind!

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!