Cocker Spaniel wearing a harness in the sun, grass background

How to Put on a Dog Harness

How to Put a Harness on a Dog


Putting a harness on your dog may seem straightforward, but knowing how to put one on correctly ensures that your dog stays secure when out and about! Choosing the right type of harness, preparing it properly, and following the correct steps are essential for your dog's comfort and safety.

You can get several types of dog harnesses, such as step-in's, and vest-styles, but we're going to focus on the over-the-head style harness today, which you can pick up from our store! By following these instructions, you can make harnessing a positive experience for both you and your pup!

What is an Over-the-Head Dog Harness?

As the name suggests, this harness goes over your dog's head. It's typically a bit more secure than the step-in harness and is often used for larger dogs. To put it on, you slip it over your dog's head and then secure the straps around their body. Make sure to adjust the straps so it's snug but not too tight.

Preparing the Harness for Your Dog

Step 1: Loosen the straps on your harness

  • Before attempting to put on the harness, ensure that all the straps are at their loosest settings. This will make it easier to slip the harness onto your dog.

Step 2: Putting On the Harness

Once you've selected and measured for the right harness, the next step is putting it on your dog. The process will vary slightly depending on the style of the harness but generally involves slipping your dog's head through the neck piece, bringing the straps around their body, and securing the clips. Patience and positive reinforcement are key here. One way that worked for our spaniel Blue was to Offer treats through the neck hole, and praise once he had moved his head through it!

Step 3: Adjust for a Snug Fit

  • Once the harness is on your dog, you need to adjust all the straps for a snug yet comfortable fit. Ensure that it's not too tight, as this can cause discomfort, but also not too loose, to prevent your dog from slipping out.

Step 4: Attach the Lead

  • Finally, attach the lead to the designated attachment point on the harness. If you're using a Blue & Bear harness, it's the metal D ring on the dog's back! Make sure it's securely fastened.

Making Putting a Harness on a Positive Experience

Using Treats and Praise

One of the best ways to make harness time enjoyable for your dog is by using treats and praise. Positive reinforcement can help your dog associate the harness with good things. Place the harness on the floor with treats around it to create a positive association. Gradually progress to placing it on your dog while offering treats and praise.

Being Patient

Patience is key when introducing your dog to a harness. Don’t try to force your dog to get into the harness or wrestle with them. Always be gentle when fitting them with a harness since you don’t want to associate bad vibes or negative feelings with the harness at any point. Equally, whilst you want it to be a positive experience, you don't want to make putting on a harness a game where they try to escape it! It may take a little longer to perfect the fit for your pup’s harness, but you’ll also master that sooner than you think.

Regular Practice and Repetition

Regular practice can make a big difference. The more often you put the harness on your dog, the more comfortable they will become with the process. Letting them learn how the harness works before relying on it may help. Practice makes perfect, so keep at it and soon your dog will be a pro at wearing their harness.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Putting a Harness on Your Dog

Incorrect Strap Adjustment

One of the most frequent mistakes is incorrect strap adjustment. If the straps are too tight, they can cause discomfort or even injury. On the other hand, if they are too loose, your dog might slip out of the harness. Always double-check the fit before heading out.

Forgetting to Check the Fit

It's easy to forget to check the fit of the harness regularly. Dogs can gain or lose weight, and their fur can change in volume, affecting how the harness fits. Make it a habit to check the fit every few weeks to ensure it remains snug but comfortable.

Ignoring Signs of Discomfort

Dogs can't tell us when something is wrong, so it's up to us to pay attention to their body language. If your dog is constantly scratching, biting at the harness, or seems reluctant to walk, these could be signs of discomfort. Address these issues promptly to keep your dog happy and safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I put on an over-the-head harness?

To put on an over-the-head harness, slip the harness over your dog's head, bring the straps around their body, and secure the clips. Adjust the straps to ensure a snug fit.

What should I do if my dog is uncomfortable with the harness?

If your dog is uncomfortable with the harness, check for any signs of discomfort such as scratching, itching, or restricted movement. Make sure the harness is not too tight and use treats and praise to create a positive association with the harness.

How can I ensure the harness fits properly?

To ensure the harness fits properly, you should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog's body. Adjust the straps so the harness is snug but not too tight.

What are common mistakes to avoid when putting on a dog harness?

Common mistakes include incorrect strap adjustment, forgetting to check the fit, and ignoring signs of discomfort. Always double-check the harness fit and make adjustments as needed to ensure your dog's comfort and safety.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify the type of harness you have to follow the correct procedure for putting it on.

  • Always loosen the straps and check for any damages before putting the harness on your dog.

  • Use treats and praise to create a positive association with the harness for your dog.

  • Ensure the harness fits snugly but comfortably by adjusting the straps properly.

  • Regularly check the fit and condition of the harness to avoid discomfort or injury to your dog.


Putting a harness on your dog might seem tricky at first, but with a bit of practice and patience, it becomes second nature. Always ensure the harness fits snugly but comfortably, and don't forget to reward your pup with treats and praise to make the experience positive! With these tips, you'll be a pro at putting a harness on your dog in no time, making walks safer and more enjoyable for both of you!