Helping a Little White Rescue Dog Get Over His Fear of the Harness

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 17, 2020

Fresco scaled - Helping a Little White Rescue Dog Get Over His Fear of the Harness

For this Omaha dog training session we show 6 year-old Chihuahua mix Fresco’s guardians how to help her get over her fear of the harness.

I always look forward to working with any dog who is adopted through Little White Dog Rescue, one of our favorite dog rescues in Omaha,

Since this session happened during the Covid19 pandemic, we conducted most of the session in Freso’s back yard. It was a little brisk, but we made due and had a lot of fun.

I started off by sharing a tip on how to stop a dog from jumping up on guests. Since we are in an era of social distancing, the opportunities to practice this are limited. Id like to see the kids int he home knock on the door or ring the bell pretending to be guests when they come home. This will allow them to practice this technique to stop dog jumping and help the dog develop a little bit of self control at the same time.

We spent the first part of the session discussing the dog’s day to day life. As Omaha’s dog behavior expert, I have found many people unknowingly contribute to the dog behavior problems so I always start out by discussing how dogs learn and how they see us as our actions determine if they think we are a leader or a follower.

I went over how to add a little structure to petting the dog and the importance of recognizing and rewarding the dog when it does things you like. Many people inadvertently pet dogs at the wrong times which can reinforce the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

To share the secret to helping a dog get over a fear of a harness, we headed inside. I handed one of the family’s children my camera so I could demonstrate how to stop a dog from fearing an object using a Conditioned Emotional Response or CER. You can learn how to use a CER to change how a dog feels about an object by watching the free positive dog behavior training video below.

Fresco didnt respond as quickly as most dogs do to this easy way to stop a dog’s fear of the harness, but that’s ok. Some dogs need more practice than others. The key is to practice when the dog is hungry and to take your time. If we go at the dog’s pace and keep it positive, most dogs get over fears of things pretty quickly.

After we finished filming this tip to help dogs stop hating the harness, I showed the guardian how to have the youngest children hand feed Fresco. This is an easy way to help a dog develop some respect and comfort with a human. Eventually the humans can transition this to structured feeding or incorporate a snuffle matt or Omega Paw treat ball for meals.

Id also like to see the humans enforce a rule of not being allowed in the kitchen when food is being prepared or around the table when humans are eating. This is a great way for the dog to start practicing some self control and the humans enforcing rules. This video shows how to introduce boundaries and enforce an invisible line.

One of the issues we didnt get to was Fresco’s habit of barking at the UPS or FedEx delivery people. Some of the rules we went over (especially no furniture) and the petting with a purpose usually have a direct effect on nuisance barking. Im hoping that is the case here, but if Fresco is still barking at them the same in a month, Id like to set up a follow up session to address that issue, if necessary.

To help the guardians remember all the dog behavior tips we covered in this in home Omaha dog training session, Fresco and I headed back outside to film a roadmap to success video.

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This post was written by: David Codr