Commonly used in working dog clubs and protection sports, an agitation harness is a special type of harness that supports a dogs chest and shoulders, encouraging him to pull against it. Agitation harnesses do not make dogs agitated or aggressive, and are actually very comfortable to wear. The name of the harness comes from its use in agitation training — also known as bitework.
Bitework, or training a dog to bite on command, is necessary work for police and military dogs. Although collars,known as agitation collars, can be used for this type of training, because of the amount of strain put on the dogs neck, harnesses are preferable to keep dogs from getting injured. Harnesses also allow a dog to work comfortably for longer periods of time when compared to a collar.
Agitation harnesses come in all kinds of colors, styles and materials. Although many kinds of harnesses can be used for bitework training, true agitation harnesses have a distinct 3-point buckle and chestplate system for maximum comfort. Conveniently, this system also makes it easy for the harness to be used on multiple dogs, or for a young dog to grow into it.
You usually won’t find agitation harnesses for sale at your local pet store. As these tools are only used by a relatively small group of dog owners, expect to have to order them online or get in touch with your local Schutzhund or French Ring club. Similarly, if you’re looking for an agitation collar, fur saver collar, or any other working dog gear, save yourself the trip to the store.
The name "Agitation Harness" is often used interchangably with any harness a dog wears during bitework. Dogs of any size can wear an agitation harness, but most common sizes are medium (suitable for pitbulls, malinois, border collie's, etc.) large (German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd, Beauceron, Rottweiler) and Giant/XL (French Mastiff, Boerbel, Russian Terrier.) For dogs smaller than 30lbs, it is generally easier to buy a comfortable harness that can support your dogs chest while he works.