Collar, lead & harness training – transcript

Hi, my name is Ross and I'm a Canine Behaviourist and Training Advisor here at Battersea 

Today we're going to show you how to teach you to walk your dog on a collar, harness and a lead 

It's a good idea to introduce the piece of equipment at an early stage so that your dog becomes comfortable with them 

Before you start this process it's important to understand whether or not your dog is comfortable with being handled 

If your dog is uncomfortable or showing signs of wriggling around looking at your hand, mouthing or even snapping 

If you notice any of this check out our video on how to get your dog used to being handled 

If the behaviour escalates or your dog gets very stressed we'd recommend that you get in touch with a qualified behaviourist to help you out with this 

Let's take a look 

Not every dog is comfortable wearing a collar and it doesn't always feel natural to them 

It's important that they enjoy wearing a collar as it's a big part of daily life and it also helps to keep them safe 

Grab your treats and a collar and take your dog somewhere where they feel comfortable 

Make the collar a big loose size and hold it in one hand 

Hold some treats in the other hand and place them through the collar 

Using the treats, lure your dog through to collar 

When they put their head through to collar say "yes!", and reward them with the treats 

If your dog cannot put their head through the collar straight away reward them as they move closer 

Five attempts at a time until they're happy to put their head through 

Once your dog is happy to place their head through the collar, you can move your fingers up round the back of the collar as if you're about to do it up 

Undo the collar and then practise placing it round your dog's neck 

Moving the straps as if you're doing it up but don't actually fix it 

Then reward 

Continue this until your dog is comfortable 

Once your dog is comfortable you can clip the collar at the correct setting that you need 

Just make sure it's not too tight or too loose 

You should be able to fit two fingers between their neck and the collar, but no more 

Praise your dog when they have it on and give them a reward 

Remove the collar after five seconds and then put it back on and gradually build up the duration from minutes up to hours 

You can build a positive association when wearing a collar during play times, meal times and even when giving them a fuss 

This allows them to get used to wearing it whilst doing normal daily activities 

There are many different types of harnesses to choose from but it's important that the one that you choose fits your dog and doesn't cause them any harm or discomfort 

Always look at the instructions for your chosen harness or ask how it should be fitted when purchasing 

The first couple of steps are similar to getting your dog used to wearing a collar 

You'll want your dog to not be worried of the harness and associate the harness with good things 

Holding the top of the harness in one hand and a treat in your other 

Lure your dog through rewarding for any progress they make if they're hesitant 

Build up gradually until they're happy for you to place the harness around their neck 

Once you can have them wearing the harness reward them with treats and praise and then remove the harness 

Slowly build up the duration of wearing the harness from seconds to minutes rewarding five repetitions each time 

If your dog is showing signs of being uncomfortable such as pawing, scratching, or mouthing at the harness then you can distract them using treats or toys 

Remember to remove the harness when it's positive not when your dog is trying to take it off 

Otherwise you'll start to build a negative association to wearing the harness 

Wait until they're distracted by either using toys or treats 

And then you can calmly remove the harness 

Once you've got your dog comfortable wearing the harness around the neck you then want to get them used to wearing it fully 

You should always make sure that you're not leaning over your dog but instead kneel down or get down to a comfortable level when doing this 

Similar to the collar, you'll have to get your dog used to the harness straps being moved around their back and under their chest 

With the harness around their neck gently bring the straps together without fastening them and then reward your dog  

Start with one second of movement and then build up to 2 seconds 

Once they're comfortable with this, then remove the harness 

Some dogs are scared of the sound the harness makes so we want to make sure they're comfortable with this first 

To do this hold the harness in front of your dog and clip the straps together and then you can give them a treat 

This builds a positive association to the noise 

Now carry out in the process of putting the harness on 

Picking the harness up at the back and rewarding them 

Calmly praise your dog rewarding them with the treat, and then remove 

Build up the duration of them wearing the harness fully clicked up from seconds to minutes and up to an hour 

During this time you can build up a positive association through play, mealtimes and give you a dog some fuss 

Some dogs may react in different ways when being put on a lead 

Some might bite or pull on the lead 

If this happens, then go back to basics and build up a positive association when putting the lead on 

Either at home or in the garden, clip your lead to your dog calmly drop it and then reward them 

Then with the lead still attached sprinkle treats around the room for them to pick up 

You can attach the lead at meal times in order to build up a positive association 

and then remove it when finished 

Next we want to get your dog used to being at the other end of the lead 

Put the lead on and sprinkle treats around the room again 

This time, follow them around calmly with the loose lead in your hand 

You can also try it when they are distracted with other things 

For example, if your dog needs to go the toilet you can click the lead on follow them out, and maintain a loose lead 

Now it's time to get your dog used to some gentle pressure whilst being on the lead 

Ask your dog to sit or stand while applying some small pressure on the lead 

Then release the lead, praise and reward them and slowly increase the duration each time 

You're not pulling or yanking on the lead but gently leaning away from your dog 

This technique can also be good for improving your dog's recall 

Attach the lead and apply some slight pressure whilst moving away and calling your dog 

You can practise on the lead anywhere at home or in the garden and it doesn't have to be for long durations 

Even having your dog walking from room to room can get them used to wearing a lead 

Praising them as you go 

You can slowly build up to walk your dog on the lead outside of the house which should help them make them feel more comfortable 

This will also help them pick up good habits 

Which should help make calm loose lead walking much easier 

Those are our tips on how to teach your dog to walk in a collar, harness or lead 

If you'd like to learn more on how to teach your dog The Battersea Way 

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