Harness training: Building up a Positive Account

Posted by Raz on Aug 12th, 2009
Aug 12

Before restarting outside with the harness on Piper I want to build up a strong history of positive experiences. So in this phase I’m doing our usual indoor recalls with it on, giving bonus treats, and giving him dinner while wearing it.

harness dinner

If he happens to have a bad experience outside or gets spooked, I don’t want there to be such a strong association between outdoors and harness that he doesn’t want to put it back on.

A very different training experience than with Carly. She was calmer outside from day one, so there was very little risk of anything associated with the outdoors becoming an aversive.

This is not from day one, but day two, after coming home at age 4 months. In the background is the rest of the gang, Fergus the cat at right, Moby my homing pigeon walking on the path at the left, and Ripley the dog in the center (over Carly’s head).

the gang

* No, she is not on any kind of restraint here. She was always so calm and stuck to me it never even occurred to me that she should be on a harness (at the time I didn’t even know such a thing existed). She was also given an extremely severe clip at the store, so she literally couldn’t fly, period. In a very stiff wind it might have been possible, but we don’t get much of that here so it was easy to avoid. As her wings started to grow out, and before I learned about training, I was very fortunate that she was never inclined to take off.

For more information about using a harness, see the Complete Harness Training Series of blog posts.