Why Does My Dog Hate Wearing a Harness?

If you have decided that your preference is for your dog to wear a harness but unfortunately when it comes to putting it on them,  they decide otherwise, then it can be very frustrating.

Dogs are wonderful animals, but they know their own mind, and if they don’t like something for whatever reason, they will let you know somehow.

As the dog’s owner you presumably know what is best for your dog, so it is important to overcome any resistance that they have to wearing their harness, but to do that you need to establish why that is the case in the first place.

Let’s look at some of the possibilities.

Previous Bad Experience

This should only be a reason if the dog you own is adopted or a rescue dog whereby, they had a previous owner. Now it does not mean that the dog was necessarily abused, but it might be a possibility.

Its owner may have tried to put a harness on the dog and if it put up any resistance, they may have hit it. Now, here you are with what seems similar to the previous harness, and the dog associates that with taking a beating.

There could be a more innocent reason where again the previous owner tried to get them to wear a harness and maybe even exceeded, but the experience was not a good one for the dog.

The harness may have been too tight, and as a result, it caused chafing. Another might be that it was not the right size and was extremely uncomfortable.

Whatever your dog’s previous history it is up to you to show them that wearing a harness is not a negative scenario, and even make it a rewarding one for them.

Coax them with treats and make the scene where you are putting their harness on one that is calm and free from any stress for your dog. Your vocal tone can play a big role in that you keep telling them they are good, as you put the harness on them.

Harness is Causing Them Discomfort

If you have bought a harness that does not properly fit them, or which has been adjusted wrongly so that it is too tight, it may be causing your dog discomfort. If that is the case it is little wonder why they hate wearing their harness.

It will be obvious by watching their movement when wearing the harness that not is well with your dog so what you must do is check that the straps and other parts of the harness are not digging into their flesh. You also want to check that there are no signs of chafing or matting in their fur.

If there is anything that concerns you then you should remove the harness and see if any of the places where there has been rubbing need any treatment. This might be a balm to calm down any irritation, or a visit to the grooming parlor to tidy up their matted fur.

Once you are happy these have been dealt with put the harness back on your dog but make absolutely sure when you adjust the straps that they are the right position. The harness needs to be secure but not so much that it is rubbing your dog’s skin excessively.

Harness is Causing Them Pain

This can occur for the same reason that may cause a dog discomfort such as the harness being the wrong size, but in this case, the outcome is more serious.

Here the dog’s skin is harmed to such a degree that itis actually in pain. Ask yourself, if something caused you pain, wouldn’t you hate it? Your dog thinks the same way!

Where pain might occur is where the harness is so tight that it goes beyond irritation to placing excess pressure on the dog’s skin. This can cause many issues with the most common one being that the skin is broken, and an infection occurs.

This obviously needs treated with creams and/or anti-biotics and should be allowed to heal properly before you attempt to have the dog wear the harness again.

The other cause of pain could be something more serious, and this is where a dog has an internal injury or unknown illness which is exacerbated when the harness is worn.

Although the harness might fit properly and be adjusted correctly, as the dog moves, or even when it is stationary and simply breathing, it comes into contact with areas such as the stomach, chest or back.

Merely by touching these areas, if they are extremely sensitive due to illness or injury, it could cause the dog pain, and thus his dislike of wearing the harness.

Should you suspect this to be the case then the prudent thing to do is to take your dog to the vet. They can check your dog over and identify if there is indeed an underlying illness or injury needing treatment.