The boxer Val doesn’t really care for the harness I got her, but she seems to be getting used to it.
I decided to switch to harness after she broke her collar while a walk about a month ago. When I put a spare collar on her, it didn’t do anything to slow her down. So I had to concede it was time to try something else.
My son, who has trained Val a little using a choke collar, suggested we try that. But this seemed unnecessarily restrictive. My goal when I walk Val is to give her a chance to expend some of her restless energy. She’s better behaved during the day if I walk her at night.
It wasn’t an easy decision switching to a harness -- because the last time I put a harness on Val, the little stinker chewed it off within a day. Granted, she was an ornery puppy then and the harness was a cheap one and probably not the right size for her, so I should have seen it coming.
So this time I bought a better harness -- one that was the right size with a comfort pad in the front. First I tried putting it on her really loose, thinking that maybe the reason she chewed it off the last was because I had it on too tight. She slipped out of it within minutes.
So I tightened it up, which she absolutely hated. First she tried to bite at the straps around her front legs, but now that she’s fully grown she couldn’t reach it because she isn’t as flexible as when she was a puppy. Then she tried to wiggle out of it -- without success.
I thought maybe if I distract her with a walk, she’ll get used to it without realizing it. So I put on the leash and walked her out the front door.
Val has been walked wearing a harness before. She clearly didn’t like the straps pulling at her chest. She’d try to tug real hard, looked up and me and whimper, try tugging again and whimper even more.
“You’ve got to slow down, girl,” I told her.
But she wasn’t about to heed my advice. She was determined to get out of this stupid harness -- not matter what!
Boxers are built with a very thick chest and a thin waist. That kind of body is perfect for slipping out of harnesses, as it turns out. All she had to do was back up and tug against me backwards at the right angle to slip out of it again and we we’re even a block away from the house. Apparently it still wasn’t tight enough.
Fortunately Val didn’t get far. She let me catch her, and I carried the 60-pound baby back to the house. I put the harness back on her, as tight as it would go. I decided that I’d have to wait until she got used to it before I tried walking her again.
The boxer is resourceful, I’ll give her that. She find ways to loosen up the harness by squirming, rolling around on the floor, biting at it and rubbing up against the furniture. But I kept an eye on her and tightened the harness back up after she loosened it up. Gradually she stopped trying to get out of it.
I think she might be finally ready for another walk on the harness. Wish me luck, or at the very least, Godspeed in catching her should she wiggle out of it again.