What Is an Agitation Harness Used for With a Dog?

Either collars or harnesses can be used during agitation training.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Agitation harnesses do not agitate the dogs they are used on, contrary to what the harness name might seem to indicate. Rather, they are used in bite training exercises during police, military and schutzhund training. Agitation harnesses are typically made of heavy, flexible leather, with protective padding on the breast plate.

Agitation and Bite Training

Dogs being trained for the military, for police work and for the sport of schutzhund (translation: protection dog or guardian dog) all receive varying degrees of bite training. During bite training, a dog is placed on a 20-foot leash, held by the trainer. The trainer’s helper wears a heavily padded burlap-covered sleeve while agitating the dog in an attempt to get him to lunge and bite the bad guy. The dog must cross the distance between the trainer and grip the sleeve, not letting go even if the helper resists, yells or strikes at him. Bite training should result in a confident dog who exercises control while in contact with the helper.

Harness vs. Collar

Agitation training is frequently done with a wide collar made of leather, with a buckle clasp. Harnesses are used for strong dogs that rush to the end of the leash. The harness breast plate acts as a shock absorber, eliminating the risk of injury that might occur if the dog was wearing a collar instead.