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Harness How-To: the Front-Clip Harness

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Front Clip Harness Turn

Recognizing Me at the Other End of the Leash

Ugh. Harnesses. Who knows how to work those contraptions, anyway?

I do! I do! Just ask! Or don’t; I’ll tell you anyway.

First, why a front-clip harness? There a couple of excellent reasons. Say your dog has no idea you’re attached to the other end of the leash and all she does is pull and pull and pull until you have to schedule a physical therapy appointment for your out-of-whack shoulders and an ENT appointment to treat your sore throat from yelling, “Brandi! Stop it! Brandi! No! Brandi! No pull!”

When we adopted Danny, he was a one-year-old, fast, strong herding dog with zero training as far as we knew. We paid for him, his food bowl, his kennel, and a front-clip harness all on that first day. I am so glad we did.

Fine, I’ll try it. Now, how do I use this thing? It’s not so hard, but it does take you and your dog both some getting used to.

  1. Front Clip Harness

    Front Clip Harness

    Line up the harness before you attempt to put it on the dog. The D-ring goes in front, on his chest. The black (or differently-colored) strap with the buckle goes under his chest, behind his front legs.

  2. Stand or, better, crouch next to your dog and slip the colored straps over his head, D-ring in the front. If you come at him with this thing from the front, he’ll shy away. Frustrating.
  3. Clip the buckle on the black strap under his belly.
  4. Take a minute to adjust the straps so they fit snugly but not tight. You should be able to get two fingers between the harness and the dog — just like a properly fitting bra, ladies.
  5. The first time or six, give him lots of treats and pets and encouragement. He’ll get used to it, and you’ll get to be a front-clip-harness pro.
  6. Clip that lead on the D-ring and head out!

Now that I’m outside, what do I do with it?

  • Front Clip Harness - Doing It Wrong

    Doing It Wrong

    Make sure the leash is between you and the dog. If the dog is on your right, the leash should be on his left, not snaking across his back.

  • If the dog pulls, stop. In. Your. Tracks.
  • Say “uh-uh” or “nope” or something. Don’t get mad, but let him know pulling is not the correct choice.
  • The front-clip harness will make him turn around and face you. Ta-da! You exist again!
  • When the leash goes slack and the dog’s not pulling, offer praise and maybe a treat for the hard cases, then start walking again.
  • EVERY TIME HE PULLS, STOP. Repeat the “nope,” the wait, and the walk.
  • Dogs get the hang of this faster than you think, but it takes a lot of consistent reinforcement for it to stick. Your first few walks this way will take for-effing-ever. Budget the time.

Danny was on the freakier end of the walking spectrum, but even he graduated to collar-only, loose-leash walking. It did take a year, but it happened. Some dogs always use a front-clip harness, and if that makes your life easier and your shoulders less sore, it certainly doesn’t do the dog any harm.

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About khg

I'm a freelance journalist and volunteer dog walker in the Pacific Northwest.

8 responses »

  1. Pingback: The Pet Pals Program: The Peppermint Twist « The Active Dog Chronicles

  2. Pingback: Harness How-To: The Back-Clip Harness « The Active Dog Chronicles

  3. Pingback: The Pet Pals Program: I Got a Pet Pal! « The Active Dog Chronicles

  4. We rescued a dog from a very abusive environment, and he had to have a front leg amputated due to the abuse. Will this type of harness stay secure given he has only one front leg? I am desperate to find a front clip harness to help us train him not to pull all the time. I appreciate your response!

    Reply
  5. Reblogged this on billybicep and commented:
    I love this blog its really useful info, fun and I love the word fartlek :-)

    Reply
  6. Monica i would bring him to petsmart and try one on him first, not sure if this would work for you i think it may fall under his chest. Maybe try the head collar, it might be an only option if your needing a harness.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: What Does the Dog Know? | The Active Dog Chronicles

  8. Pingback: Harness How-To: The Freedom Harness | The Active Dog Chronicles

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