Lily is a 15 week old Sprocker who is losing out on the necessary socialisation and habituation to the world.

Putting her harness on is almost impossible

When the lady brings out her harness, Lily rolls around and bites, making it nearly impossible to put on.  She is the same with the lead.

Once outside she pulls so hard she is nearly flat on the ground.

They had stopped trying until they could get help. This is one of those occasions I really do wish I had a magic wand and could speed things up. Unfortunately I don’t.

The first time they put a harness on her, she was fine. The second time – NO.

Lily will have already associated the harness and lead with the outside world. So – the outside world is the real problem.

The problem divided into three main areas

Broadly the situation can be put into three main areas to be dealt with separately:

  • Happy acceptance of the harness and lead
  • Loose lead walking technique
  • Confidence out in the street.

We have broken the whole situation down into tiny increments.

Lily is a good eater. I have suggested they have her working for her food and use it to help her state of mind. Her food and how she eats it will help her to associate the lead and harness with something good.

They will feed her meals in Kongs or Snufflemat or scatter-feed over the grass.

Tiny increments and starting at the beginning

Here is the gist of the tiny increments starting at the very beginning – with just the lead before introducing the harness.

They will put the lead on the floor and then put her filled Kong on it. After she’s become accustomed to the connection between lead and Kong, they can pick the lead up and put it down again as she eats her Kong meal.

When happy with this, they can touch the lead on the collar. Next attach it. No harness yet.

Now they can simply leave her to trail a light lead or even shoe lace about the place when she has finished the Kong. She will get used to the feel of it.

Now for the harness

Next they will place the harness on the floor and the filled Kong on it. As before, they will attach her lead to her collar.

Only when she is happy with the harness on the floor will they pick it up and put it down again.

A Perfect Fit harness can be put on two ways. There is no having to lift legs in. Maybe she can put her head through it to get the Kong. They will then put it back on the floor.

And so on, until they can put the harness on a happy dog.

They should then just leave her harness on and break all its associations with going out.

You can see how this is going. It could take a few days or it could take weeks. Little and often is the way to go.

Loose lead walking – the technique

At the same time they can work on the loose lead walking technique around the garden, starting with no lead at all.

Then they pick up the lead she is already trailing.

When she’s ready they can transfer it to her harness.

The world outside

The last part of the three areas to work on is how she feels about the world outside.

They have a small gate that leads onto the street. Traffic, people and dogs pass by. There is a school down the road.

From behind the gate they can ‘world-watch’ and pair things beyond the gate with special food. She can run back into the house if she wants to or if she is scared.

When all three things are in place – harness and lead happily on, loose lead walking happily achieved in the garden….they can open that gate.

Putting the three things together now

Again – tiny steps. With harness and lead, walking or standing about within a few metres of their house. Pairing passing things with food. Being ready to go back in if Lily is overwhelmed.

Bit by bit they can work their way further afield.

It’s important meanwhile not to try to take her anywhere. Stick to those baby steps and start right at the beginning.

The more short sessions they do, the faster they will make progress. Jumping ahead will slow things down.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help