Why Does My Dog Hate His Harness? (7 Common Reasons)

Categorized as Why Does My Dog
Why Does My Dog Hate His Harness

Have you ever put a harness on your dog, only to have them writhe and wriggle in protest? If so, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, many dog owners have experienced the same thing.

But why do dogs hate harnesses?

There can be a number of reasons. Perhaps your dog associates the harness with something unpleasant, like going to the vet. Or maybe they simply don’t like the way it feels.

Whatever the case may be, there are a few things you can do to help make the experience more bearable for both of you.

Our article provides seven common reasons why dogs hate harnesses – and how to fix them! So if your furry friend is giving you a hard time, be sure to check it out.

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Hates Their Harness

1. The Harness May Not Fit Properly

If your dog is resistant to wearing a harness, it could be because the harness doesn’t fit properly. A poorly fitting harness can be uncomfortable and restrictive, causing your dog to associate it with unpleasant experiences.

In contrast, a well-fitting harness should be snug but not too tight, allowing your dog to move freely without feeling constrained.

If you’re not sure whether your dog’s harness is the right size, take him to a pet store and have a professional help you select the right size and style for his breed and body type.

You can also watch a video on YouTube on how to measure your dog for a harness.

2. Dogs Can Feel Restrained and Trapped by a Harness

It’s important to introduce a harness gradually and patiently, allowing your dog to get used to it before using it for extended periods of time. A sudden switch from a collar to a harness can be confusing and even frightening for some dogs.

They may feel restrained and trapped, especially if they’re not used to being restrained. This can lead to anxiety and even aggression.

For this reason, it’s important to take things slowly when introducing a harness, letting your dog adjust at his own pace.

3. The Dog May Have Had a Bad Experience While Wearing a Harness in the Past

 It’s possible that he had a bad experience while wearing a harness in the past. Maybe he was uncomfortable in it or got tangled up in it and felt frustrated.

Or perhaps he was pulled too hard or too often while wearing it, which made it associated with negative experiences. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to try to understand what your dog is feeling and to help him overcome his fear.

4. They Don’t Like Things Going Over Their Head

While most dogs have no problem with wearing a harness, there are some who really dislike it. For these dogs, the feeling of having a foreign object slipped over their head is simply too much to handle.

They may twist their body, lunge forward, or even try to bite. In their minds, the harness is a trap, and they’re determined to break free.

However, it is important to note that not all dogs respond to harnesses in this way. Some dogs tolerate them without issue, while others even seem to enjoy the process of being put in a harness.

5. They May Be Allergic to the Materials in the Harness

For some dogs, the wrong harness can cause a lot of discomforts. Many commercially-available harnesses are made from synthetic materials that can irritate a dog’s skin, especially if they are prone to allergies.

Common allergens include nylon, polyester, and leather. If your dog consistently seems uncomfortable or agitated when wearing a harness, it may be worth having him tested for allergies.

6. They Don’t Want To Go Outside

For some dogs, the act of putting on a harness is synonymous with leaving their comfort zone.

These dogs would much prefer to stay at home, where they know all the sights and smells. To them, putting on a harness is the first step in a long journey away from the safety of their home. For these dogs, harnesses can be a source of anxiety and fear.

However, there are also some dogs who love harnesses because they associate them with adventure and excitement. To these dogs, putting on a harness means that they get to go for a walk or a car ride – two of their favorite things.

Ultimately, each dog is unique, and their individual preferences should be respected.

7. They Are in Pain

In some cases, a strong aversion to wearing a harness can be traced back to health problems. If your dog is in pain, he may associate the harness with that pain and try to avoid it.

For example, Senior dogs with joint problems may find it uncomfortable to wear a harness for extended periods of time. If you suspect that the reason your dog hates his harness is due to pain, it’s important to talk to your vet and rule out any health problems.

How To Get Your Dog To Love Their Harness

If your dog hates their harness, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more pleasant for both of you.

1. Make Sure the Harness Is Comfortable and Fits Properly

Getting your dog to love their harness can be as easy as making sure it fits properly. A good rule of thumb is to measure from the base of your dog’s neck to the base of their tail.

You’ll also want to take into account the width of their chest, as this will determine the size of the harness. Once you have these measurements, you can start shopping for a harness that will be both comfortable and stylish.

 In addition, make sure to choose a harness that has adjustable straps and is made from breathable materials. This will help to ensure that your dog is as comfortable as possible while wearing it.

2. Introduce the Harness Gradually and Pair It With Positive Experiences

If your dog is fearful of the harness, it’s important to introduce it gradually. Start by letting them see and smell the harness while you’re both relaxed. You can even give them a treat while they’re investigating it.

Once they seem comfortable with the harness, try putting it on them for short periods of time. At first, you may only be able to keep it on for a few seconds. But with patience and practice, you’ll be able to gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends wearing it.

It’s also important to pair the experience of wearing a harness with positive things, like walks and car rides. This will help your dog to associate the harness with good things and make the whole experience more enjoyable.

3. Try Using Different Types of Harnesses

Just as people have different preferences for clothing, dogs can also be picky about their harnesses. Some may prefer a certain material or style, so it’s important to experiment until you find the right fit.

You may also want to consider switching to a harness that attaches in a different spot. For example, some dogs prefer a front-clip harness, which attaches to the dog’s chest, while others prefer a back-clip harness, which attaches to their back.

4. Make Sure the Harness Is Made of Materials That Your Dog Is Not Allergic To

If you notice that your dog is showing signs of discomfort after wearing their harness, it’s possible that they’re allergic to the materials it’s made of.

Some dogs are allergic to certain materials, such as nylon or polyester. If you’re unsure whether your dog is allergic to their harness, try switching to one made of different materials and see if that makes a difference.

5. Consult With a Vet or Professional Trainer

If you’ve tried all of the above and your dog still hates their harness, it’s possible that there’s a deeper issue at play. In these cases, it may be helpful to consult with a vet or professional trainer.

They’ll be able to help you figure out why your dog is afraid of the harness and provide you with tips on how to get them to love it.

Should You Be Concerned If Your Dog Hates His Harness?

In most cases, a strong dislike of harnesses is nothing to be concerned about. Dogs are individuals, and just like people, they have their own preferences.

If your dog hates his harness but is otherwise happy and healthy, there’s no need to worry. However, if you think that the hatred of the harness is due to a health problem, it’s important to talk to your vet.

They will be able to conduct a thorough examination and rule out any potential medical issues.


If your dog hates their harness, don’t despair. With a little patience and effort, you can help them to overcome their fear and learn to love it.

Just make sure to take things slowly, start with a comfortable and well-fitting harness, and associate the experience with positive things.