Dog Aggressive When Taking Harness Off – Causes, Training & Prevention

Dog Aggressive When Taking Harness Off

Dogs are usually friendly and loyal companions that can form a unique bond with their owners. Unfortunately, some dogs may have specific triggers that turn them from loving pets into aggressive ones in seconds.

One of these triggers may be the removal of a dog’s harness – a tool used for walking, control, and training.

If your dog is becoming aggressive when you attempt to take off its harness, it is likely due to fear, anxiety, and stress. However, understanding why and how to change its behavior is critical.

So, this blog post explores why your dog is aggressive when taking harnesses off and how you should handle it.

Causes and Reasons for Dog Aggression Towards Removal of Harness

If your dog is suddenly exhibiting aggression towards the removal of their harness, it could be for one of several reasons. Seven reasons for this behavior are listed below: 

  1. Your dog can be experiencing stress or anxiety. The harness may be a source of comfort for them, and removing it can trigger feelings of insecurity. 
  2. Your dog can be in pain or uncomfortable. If the harness is tight or chafing, your dog may associate the removal of it with pain. 
  3. Your dog may be protecting their territory. If they see the harness as a symbol of dominance, they may become aggressive when it is removed to assert their dominance. 
  4. Your dog may be possessive of their harness. If they view the saddle as valuable, they may become aggressive when someone tries to remove it from them. 
  5. Your dog may be afraid of being separated from you. If they view the harness removal as a sign that they will be away from you, they may become anxious or scared, leading to aggression. 
  6. Your dog may have learned that aggression gets them what they want. If you have inadvertently rewarded your dog’s aggressive behavior in the past, they may have learned that it is an effective way to get what they want. 
  7. Your dog may be displaying aggressive behavior due to a medical problem.

If your dog is suddenly exhibiting aggression, it’s essential to rule out any possible medical causes before assuming it is behavioral.

Prevention of Dog Aggressive Behavior When Taking Harness Off

If your dog displays aggression when taking their harness off, it’s essential to take action to prevent this behavior from continuing. You can do a few things to make your dog more at ease and keep them from misbehaving.

  • First, try acclimating your dog to being without its harness for short periods. Start by taking it off for a few seconds while petting or playing with them. 
  • When putting on and removing the harness, remain composed and assertive. Dogs can sense our emotions, so they may react accordingly if we’re tense or nervous.
  • Establish a process for putting the harness on and taking it off. Your dog will be more prepared and able to stay on task if you do this.
  • It’s also essential to ensure that taking their harness off isn’t associated with negative experiences for your dog. If they always get put in their crate or left alone when not in their saddle, they’re likely to start feeling anxious when the harness comes off.
  • Make sure they always have positive experiences – like treats or walks – when they’re not in their saddle.
  • Avoid punishment while putting on or taking off the harness. This will only increase your dog’s anxiety and make the experience more stressful.
  • Be careful not to startle your dog when taking off the harness. To avoid unduly frightening him, approach quietly and deliberately.
  • Finally, if your dog is still having trouble adjusting, unique calming products are made specifically for dogs who get anxious when taking their harness off. These can help reduce stress and make the experience more positive for your dog overall.

Obedience Training May Also Reduce Aggressive Dog Behavior

If you’re struggling with an aggressive dog, consider enrolling them in an obedience training class. It may just help to reduce their aggression.

Dog Aggression Training

Not only will obedience training help your dog learn basic commands, but it may also reduce aggressive behavior when taking the harness off.

There are a few reasons why obedience training may reduce aggressive behavior in dogs. 

First, when dogs are properly trained, they understand their behaviors have repercussions. If your dog bites or attacks someone, they’ll be punished accordingly.

Second, by teaching your dog basic commands like “sit” and “stay,” you’ll be able to control them better when they’re acting aggressively. With proper control, you’ll be able to redirect their aggression toward something else (like a toy) instead of someone else.

Basic Commands for Dog Training

Third, obedience instruction can help you and your dog’s relationship grow closer. This stronger bond may make your dog less likely to behave aggressively toward you or others.

Take Your Dog to Medical Treatment If His Aggressive Behavior Doesn’t Develop

While it’s true that some dogs will outgrow their aggression, others will not. If your dog’s behavior does not improve with training and obedience, it may be time to consider medication.

Several different medications can help reduce aggression in dogs. These include anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers. However, these drugs should never be given to your dog without an expert’s advice. 

So, ensure to take your dog to a medical specialist. They will better assist your dog’s behavior and offer the best course of action depending on the severity of the dog’s aggression and the underlying cause.

Prepare Your Dog for Medical Treatment Beforehand

When preparing your dog for his medical treatment, you should do these things in advance to ensure that it goes as smoothly and stress-free as possible. 

Be Calm and Assertive: Stay calm and assertive when taking your pup to medical treatment. Your dog will become more uneasy the more anxious you are, which might make things worse. Speak calmly and confidently to your pet, so he knows you control the situation. 

Exercise Beforehand: Taking your pup out for a walk before his appointment can help him release any pent-up energy and reduce his stress levels while at the vet or doctor’s office. This will also tire him out, so he’s more likely to stay calm during his appointment.


In conclusion, it is essential to remember that aggression towards humans when taking off a harness is a common problem in dogs. Identifying the cause of this behavior and using positive reinforcement and consistent training to try to modify it is crucial.

Ultimately, understanding why your dog is aggressive when taking harnesses off can help you and your dog form a stronger bond and ensure that your dog is safe and comfortable when removing their harness.


Why does my dog growl when I take off his harness?

Dogs may growl because they don’t want to be disturbed or moved from their current spot or because they are uncomfortable with having something removed from their body.

It is essential to take the time to observe your dog’s behavior to determine the root cause of the growling.

Why does my dog bite me when I take her collar off?

A dog may bite when its collar is taken off for several different reasons. It could be due to fear or pain associated with the collar and a lack of familiarity with the process.

Dogs may react negatively if the collar is removed too quickly or if the collar has become too tight.

It is also possible that the dog is overly possessive, as it may see the collar and its removal as a threat to its ownership of the space.

Why is my dog calmer with a harness on?

The harness gives them control over their movements and environment, providing them with a secure base to move around and explore. The saddle’s pressure also has a calming effect on the dog, similar to how swaddling can help calm a baby.

Additionally, a harness can help reduce a dog’s tendency to pull on the leash and increase a dog’s overall safety. This is especially important in an unfamiliar environment, where the dog may feel overwhelmed or anxious.

How do you discipline a dog that snaps at you?

Training a dog that snaps at you should be handled carefully and patiently. The first step is to identify the source of the aggressive behavior, as it can be caused by various factors such as fear, anxiety, lack of socialization, or poor obedience training.

Once the source has been identified, it is crucial to address the behavior immediately and consistently to avoid further snapping. This could include verbal corrections, avoiding eye contact, and redirecting the dog to more appropriate behavior.

Additionally, it is vital to ensure that the dog is not rewarded for their aggressive behavior, as this could reinforce negative behavior.

What are the warning signs of aggression in dogs?

Common warning signs include growling, snapping, baring teeth, stiffening of the body, raised hackles, and a fixed stare. If a dog displays any of these signs, it is best to back away slowly and avoid sudden movements.

Naina Anuman

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