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Dog suddenly aggressive about harness, likely skin related but I don’t know what to do.

493 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Lillith
My dog has a chronic skin condition caused by hypothyroidism and allergies. It has gotten very bad recently with spring and summer and he is currently dealing with MRSP (dog mrsa, basically). He’s on all sorts of meds to try to combat it.

Either due to irritation from his harness rubbing or just those happen to be spots where his rash is cropping up he has rashes on his side and withers. Either or.

For the first time since adopting him two years ago I was putting him in his harness and as I was buckling it he whipped around with a sudden bark and snap at my hand. I didn’t pinch the skin or anything I buckled it as normal. And I think it’s because of his sensitive skin. No other explanation I can think of.

Switched to a collar which he can tolerate but he has slipped his martingale collar twice in the last two weeks and I just don’t feel safe waking him in it as he could easily run into the street and get hit by a car.

I’m not sure what to do. If his skin irritation is the cause then trying to recondition him to the harness seems like it’ll work…until it hurts his skin again. And no harness seems to not touch that area of his body.
Because of his skin issues I’ve just not walked him for a bit and I feel bad.
Should I be waiting until his skin heals to attempt anything? I feel like a terrible dog owner for not walking him. (But frankly he kind of hates walks anyways)
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This may be a situation where a head halter is the best solution. They are often very strange for dogs to wear and require careful, positive introduction, but might be worth a try to see if he takes to it, since they offer more control but won't be anywhere near the sensitive spots on his body. If he fights or tries to lunge/charge in one they're likely not a good option because that can cause damage if his head gets yanked around too harshly, but might be worth a try.

The other thing I can think of is putting a body suit on him under the harness to try to minimize the rubbing. Again, very dog specific, since some dogs don't tolerate any kind of 'clothing' even if they have no medical issues making their skin angry, but if he is okay with a fabric layer, I bet it'd be more comfortable than harness straps directly on the irritation.

I also agree that you can minimize walks/on-leash exercise and focus instead on lots of indoor play, training games, enrichment, and (if you have access) off-leash exercise in a safe, fenced area. Especially while he's healing.
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