Last night, I was working on edits for Triggered Reality when Lola decided she wanted her chest rubbed. Lola is harness trained, she wears it all the time and doesn’t like to have it taken off. However, it makes it hard to pet her chest.
After several, several minutes of rubbing her chest through the sides of the harness, and making my arm tired, I stop. She wasn’t ready for that and immediately starts pushing her chest against my hands trying to get me to rub her again.
Not thinking, I unsnapped her harness. She instantly freaked out, ran to my mom’s room, and jumped in bed. Where she stayed until morning…
On one hand, I love that she’s harness trained. It’s better for her back since she’s a puller and always will be to some degree. It’s easier on my mom to control her on a harness that has a front hook as well as back hooks, because Lola is calmer when she’s hooked in the front. I can’t get a collar tight enough because she has a large mane due to her breeding (collies and German Shepherds both have them), so she can pull out of it. Kids and other dogs don’t choke her when they grab her harness as opposed to her wearing a collar and that’s a big deal because she loves little kids more than she loves other dogs. And I mean she loves kids, all kids.
On the other hand, her harness has become a security blanket. It doesn’t matter how many times I try to take it off of her just to pet her, she always panics. I used to think it was because she really hates baths, but I’m beginning to change my thinking. She still really hates baths and taking her harness off is a sign of getting a bath, but I take her harness off in the bathtub when it’s bath time. I don’t do it in the living room in the middle of the night and then go throw her in the tub. This means her panic stems from just the lack of her harness. She feels insecure without it and since I’m the one that took it off, it makes her panic and run away from me.
But she loves to have her chest stroked and it’s hard to do with the harness on. I would like to train her to a happy medium… okay with it on, okay with it off, but she’s over 18 months now and I’m not sure how to do that.