If you have a dog who gets overly excited and jumpy when you attempt to clip on the leash or put on a harness, try some of these tips. These tips can also help if you have a dog who excitedly or submissively pees, or who may cower or back away when you reach for him or try to put on a harness.
First, watch your body language. Instead of facing your dog or reaching and leaning over him, position yourself next to or slightly behind him. Reach under your dog’s head or to the side of his neck to attach the leash to the collar.
When placing on a harness, especially if over your dog’s head, slip it on from behind him and while kneeling or standing next to him. Instead of reaching over your dog and hugging him as you fuss with straps, reach under his belly or torso. Take the straps you need and be sure to protect your dog’s skin when you clip any buckles. I place my hand between the dog’s skin and any buckles when I snap them into place. This is especially important for many front-clip harnesses since buckles can be off-centered and adjacent to your dog’s armpit.
For smaller dogs, you can put them on your lap so they’re facing away from you or place them on a sofa or chair and sit next to them.
If your dog excitedly or anxiously jumps, don’t yell at him or repeatedly tell him to sit. For many dogs, sitting can encourage jumping. When dogs look up, their bottoms naturally hit the ground, but in this position they are more inclined to jump as they can easily push off with their hind legs. By keeping dogs in a standing position and keeping their nose in line with their body, they are less inclined to jump and more likely to remain standing. You can give your dog treats as he stands and/or place a few treats on the floor so you can have your hands free.
Treat your dog at the right times. Provide your dog yummy goodies when you clip on the leash and put on the harness. It’s especially important to give your dog treats when you slip a harness over your dog’s head and as you fuss with any straps. By giving your dog a treat at the end, you can reward him for staying in place. Eventually, you can wean off the treats, and if he enjoys going outside, going for a walk can be the reward.