Rescue dog anxiety? No problem! It takes patience, trust and a whole lotta love…
I adopted a Romanian rescue dog last year (you can see my blog post about the process and how it was to rehome her by clicking here– its a rather adorable post) and I never looked back. She is the light of my life and I am pretty sure that she is my guardian angel (don’t judge me), but when we first got her it was not easy. A rescue dog tends to give the most love but that part comes after a LOT of effort. Obie was so nervous when she first arrived at our house- it got so bad that she would not go to the bathroom for the first couple of days as she was in so much shock. We got her when she was just a few months old and it broke my heart that she was as terrified of humans as she was. She came to us with what looked like cigarette burns on the top of her little golden head and she was terribly skinny. Rescue dog anxiety is not an easy thing to deal with and it comes with a fair share of heart break!
Overtime, she got used to living with us and even began to… love us, but when she was out for walks it was a whole other story.
We would be doomed if we were having to walk past another human, bus shelter, parked car, bird or any semi-loud noises because Obie would forget all about the fact that we were there and she would do what she could to try and escape. She used to try to pull into the road with cars zooming down the street and she would have her ears pinned back-all signs of shocking fear. Poor wee gal.
Being afraid outside was not good- we had to do something…
Before we got Obie, we decided not to use collars. This dog was a Romanian rescue dog- she had no positive interaction with humans until she was rescued, she didn’t know what it was like to live indoors and she most certainly terrified of the dog catcher with his scary neck restraint. We wanted to make sure Obie was comfortable and not unnecessarily scared- especially on walks! So we decided to go down the harness route. Initially we bought a flimsy one off of eBay. It was a fabric harness, with a lot of stretch and it was surprisingly very strong! Our first harness lasted 8 months and it was very cheap and purple. Unfortunately as time went on, Obie’s stressful pulling and trying to escape a situation where she would have to walk past another human caused the harness some wear and tear which only got worse over time. Eventually it was ripped from the front of her chest and we could not postpone getting her another any longer.
We needed a new harness and fast! Rescue dog anxiety takes it’s toll!
I loved seeing the dogs out in the park with their Julius K-9 harnesses- they just looked so smart and ready for action! Obie with her flimsy harness never looked as secure as they did- even though I knew her harness would not allow her to escape when stressed. I decided to do a bit of shopping! The Julius K-9 harnesses are quite pricey and at the point of needing a harness replacement… you can bet that it was a few weeks before payday so I needed something durable and affordable!
I knew I wanted the style and strength of the Julius K-9 harnesses so I decided to look on Amazon when I found the perfect one! Lots of great reviews and it was a great price so I decided to go for it- what did I have to lose? Not Obie, I can assure you! This harness had the strength of Achilles and the comfort of a lay-z boy.
The Zoto Harness
The Zoto dog harness met our aesthetic and our practicality requirements… and then some! We always had problems of Obie just about pulling us off our feet when out and about and the first time we put this harness on her, the pulling was dramatically lessened. I was also very worried that it would be too bulky for her and that we would risk her feeling uncomfortable but as soon as we put it on her to adjust the sizes, she was calm and collected.
A thick and bulky harness is a good thing for a scared and nervous doggy…
That’s when it hit me! I think that my dog loves to be cuddled to the point that it makes her feel safe and I felt like the weight of the harness was doing just that. I read somewhere that some dogs like to wear a big, heavy harness as it makes them feel like they are on duty or are doing something important which in turn decreases the amount of fear that they feel. Can we just take a moment to bask in the adorable-ness of that theory? Dogs want to climb the career ladder too. That. Is. Adorable.
I can’t put all of Obie’s decrease of public fear down to the use of this harness as I guess I will never know if this is the cure, but it was significantly a lesser factor of Obie’s walks after we bought this harness.
Easier to handle when off the lead
We also found that she was a lot more responsive and again there is no telling if this is down to the harness but one can’t not think of that as an option as these were behaviour changes only after the harness was being used. Obie used to become very distracted while off the lead. If she saw another dog out in the park, she would forget all about the human she was with and bolt after it to play. Obie was always scared of humans but she absolutely adored other dogs and would not feel complete unless she played with them. I would spend ages calling after her and feeling like a failing dog mother before as she would never come when beckoned. Then once we started using the harness and as she got more comfortable with it, she would always stop whatever she was doing and run towards us if called. It was a miracle!
What makes this harness different?
Well, a harness is not a new concept by any means but the Zoto harness does come with its own little design perks! One of them being that you can switch the Zoto logo Velcro strap to one of two others that come with the harness. You also have the option to use a strap that reads “Service dog” or “in training” which are great for a lot of people and it means that the harness is designed for both those options too.
It has a reflective strip along the chest and I can’t tell how many times that has come in handy.
It is bulky without being uncomfortable for Obie or too tight. She feels secure in it and we have never had the issue of her slipping out.
No matter how hard she pulls, the harness is insanely durable and it literally has no signs of wear whatsoever and we bought this about 3 months ago! The metal ring that you connect your lead to is very heavy duty so you don’t have to worry about it breaking off if your dog freaks out and pulls too hard.
Its very easy to put on! You basically just slide the neck hole around her head and clip under her armpits (do dogs even have armpits?)
Your dog will look like she is on a mission with the Zoto harness.
Its also very affordable which jumped up massively in my books- I love a good bargain.
Obie has become a brave dog out in public and I put it mostly down to the use of this new harness. Her walks have become more fun, she is more trusted to be let off the lead and she is sleeping a lot more soundly at night now too. I would advise that if you were to adopt a rescue dog which acts nervously around people or just by being outside, try a heavy duty harness like this one. You can click here to see the harness that I bought and you will be able to buy it yourself!
You can thank me later, if anything helps rescue dog anxiety, give it a shot!