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& Leashing

Foster Dogs

Harnessing and leashing dogs can be difficult when dogs are excited, or uncomfortable with invasive handling. Using food to manage dog behavior during leashing and harnessing makes the process safer and less stressful for the dog and handler. 


This protocol uses food to distract dogs during harnessing. Rarely, dogs who guard resources might guard stuffed food toys or treats thrown on the ground. For these dogs, a helper feeding by hand during harnessing can be the best option.


If the dog avoids the harness despite high-value food lures, and you want the dog to be comfortable being harnessed, see the Harnessing Plan. 



and/or collars and leashes

High-value food

Food toys (optional)

  • Decide whether to use a treat scatter or a stuffed food toy, and prepare treats or food toy before beginning. 

  • Attach the leash to the harness ahead of time. 

  • Use a food lure to encourage the dog to move his head into the harness. Move the treats slowly and allow the dog to lick at them as he moves his head forward. Deliver the treats once the head is through the harness.

  • Use food to distract the dog while fastening the harness.  Methods for food delivery include:​

    • A generous scatter of treats on the floor;

    • A stuffed food toy or lick mat;

    • A second person feeding by hand.


  • Avoid leaning over the dog while fastening the harness. Keep your body to the side of the dog, & keep your face away from the dog’s face.  


  • Distract the dog with food scattered on the ground or fed by hand;

  • If clipping the leash onto a collar or harness the dog is already wearing, move the leash clip toward the dog’s collar or harness from the side or underneath. Avoid reaching over top the dog’s head. 


  • Use a food lure to encourage the dog to move his head into the martingale or slip lead. 



  • Allow the dog to see your hand coming toward the collar & avoid fast hand movements toward the collar.

  • Avoid bending or leaning over the dog & keep your face away from the dog’s face. 

  • Use a treat scatter on the floor to occupy the dog while unclipping the leash.

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