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Training 5yr old dog to accept collar or harness....

March 26th, 2010, 09:44 AM
I will soon be inheriting my sons dogs (long story). His SharPei, Lexi, has always had a severe aversion to wearing a collar or harness and he's never pushed that issue. The few times they've tried to get her used to a harness, her behavior changed so radically that they would take it back off her within just a few days. She becomes very nervous and jittery and refuses any kind of attention - she won't let you touch her at all, she runs away. She's been like this since he got her as a pup. He was her third home and she was only about 9 weeks old - we think she was abused in her previous home but she's been with my son for almost 5 years.

I need to get her used to wearing a harness, and letting me put it on her. Right now if you come near her with anything other than food in your hand, she runs and no amount of coaxing will make her come. It doesn't matter what is in your hand, a collar; a brush; whatever.......even if you lay the item down next to you, she won't come near you if she can still see it or suspects that you still have it. She is chipped but I need to be able to walk her. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to work walking 4 dogs but that's a whole other thing. The first problem I need to overcome is getting a harness on her. I know a collar won't work for her because her neck is so thick, it would slide right off her head if she pulled. I won't keep the harness on her all the time, primarily just for walks - I know if I leave it on her, Hazel will use it as a convenient handle to grab hold of her when they are playing. She does that to Malone if I leave his harness on him.

Any ideas on how to get her past this?

April 1st, 2010, 11:02 PM
Lexi sounds like what our Penny used to be like. Training with a clicker is the only method that has had any positive results with Penny when it comes to desensitizing her to touch, to being brushed, to having her nails clipped, etc. I think this is something you're going to have to work on over a longer period of time. Has anyone tried just leaving a harness on the floor, not too far from her food bowl perhaps? Make sure she doesn't see you handling it. If she goes over to smell it or noses it, reward her big time (especially since she's food motivated). Once she's comfortable with it, you can try to just touch it in her presence, and treat her if she doesn't run away. Eventually, you should be able to pick it up and hold it while you treat her. It sorta progresses from there. At each step that she's perfectly comfortable with, you just take it one baby step further.

Here's a video that shows what desensitizing to a harness with a clicker is like. Lexi may be too afraid at first so I'd start with leaving it on the ground where she eats or has to walk by to go outside.

You can check out Kikopup's website here for more great ideas

Here's another valuable website when dealing with fearful dogs

Hope some of this helps :fingerscr

April 1st, 2010, 11:10 PM
Excellent advice from LP :thumbs up. Another member here who had a dog that would shut down with any training had some great success when she tried clicker training and I have also recently tried it with some very cool results :).

Good luck :goodvibes:.

April 9th, 2010, 04:46 PM
Thanks LP and TeriM!