You might imagine that the question of what age a dog can wear a harness is one only by those with a puppy. In fact, it is asked by owner of dogs of all ages for one quite simple reason.
If their dog has never worn a harness before they may be unsure whether it is either too young or in some cases whether a dog might even be too old to wear a harness.
To answer all of their questions we are going to look at both sides of the age divide with regards to a dog wearing a harness for the first time, and how to ensure that it can do so safely and with the minimum of stress.
Puppies: First Steps
If you own a puppy there are going to be lots of things you want to teach it, such as being clean, what it can and cannot chew, to stay and come when you tell it, and how it should walk when you take it out.
First, you are unlikely to have a puppy that is less than 8 weeks old unless you are breeding them, and its mother is at home with you. This is due to the common acceptance that a puppy’s well-being is best served by its remaining with its mother until it is at least 8 weeks old, with some breeders even extending that to 12 weeks.
When you receive your puppy they will still need to go through the vaccination and inoculation process, and this means that it should not be taken out beyond the confines of your own home and garden to mix with other dogs until it is around 16 weeks old.
Puppies and Their Harnesses
While waiting for the time between when you receive them and them being able to go outside, there is no reason why you should be seeking to train your puppy. In fact, this is a great time for it to get used to you, and to start to learn by the tone of your voice when it is being good or bad.
This period is also ideal for getting them used to wearing their harness without the added excitement of always associating it with going for a walk which obviously they aren’t going to be doing until they are at least 16 weeks old.
Wearing Their Harness for the First Time
You want to introduce them to their harness in a way that doesn’t suggest to them that it is a toy, or worse, something they can chew. For this reason, their harness should be kept well out of their reach when it is not being used.
Allow your puppy to sniff the harness, and also to hear the noises that it makes when the clasps are being opened and closed. Also, connect their leash to the harness so that it hears that noise too. Do not allow him to get too excited by the harness, as the next step is to put it on them.
Bear in mind puppies are playful so it might mistake you trying to put it on him as some kind of game. Try to remove that thought from their mind using your voice. speak calmly, but authoritatively so that they know who is in charge.
In most cases, they should take to wearing their harness in the same way they take to all the new experiences they have encountered in their short life so far.
What If Your Puppy Resists Wearing Their Harness?
One problem that might arise is if the harness does not fit them correctly. That could be either because it is too small or too big for them. In either case, adjust it accordingly.
If your puppy does ‘put up a fight’ or becomes a little distressed when wearing their harness do not worry too much. This is a new experience for them, and some puppies will take to it better than others. Just keep them calm, and maybe distract them with a treat or a toy.
By taking their mind away from the fact that they are wearing the harness, they should soon forget all about it, and just get on what they are doing.
One important point, whether your puppy takes to it well or needs some time get used to it, never leave it on them for prolonged periods of time. Even when they grow up, it is advisable that they do not wear their harness all day, and that applies especially to puppies.
What About Older Dogs?
There is no upper age limit as to when a dog should or should not wear a harness assuming it fits them and does not cause them any issues such as irritation of the skin.
If you are introducing an adult dog to a harness, especially if they if they have never worn one before, do so in the same relaxed and calm manner we suggested for the puppy. Let them see, sniff, and hear it before trying it on them, and do not allow them to become too anxious.