Weaning off the Head Collar

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Tazwell, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    I've posted about Bruno before-- He's a 1.5 year old Pit mix.

    I'm not quite sure if he's becoming Dog aggressive (he's wonderful with the 7 at my house) or Dog Selective, or just plain dog reactive. He's never bitten another dog, or even made an obvious attempt to try.

    Last weekend, I had him at the Petsmart store, and I walked him around with his gentle leader some, and then with his flat collar. He did okay both times, he didn't scream when he saw another dog. He pulled like crazy, and when he finally got to another dog, he would sniff it-- then after a few seconds, let out a low growl. As soon as the two begin separating, or even beforehand, he would start that awful barking and lunging. He even did this with a tiny puppy, just with the low growling, which surprised me.

    Today, I took him there with only his flat nylon collar, and he did terrible. The store was dead, so we only saw one dog up close. It was a boston. He started lunging and screaming, and dragging his claws against bags of dog food trying to get to the other dog. That time, I just stood there until he calmed down, with the dog remaining right on the other side of the food bags. Then I walked him away.

    He sees other dogs from a distance without much incidence.

    With the gentle leader, he doesn't pull, doesn't lunge, doesn't snarl, doesn't do anything of that sort. He's a completely different dog. I believe, though, that he'd probably Bark "aggressively" at them once we got far into the greeting. Of course, I'd like to be able to have him around other dogs without the gentle leader, if possible. It's just a drastic difference; he needs practice on the regular collar.


    I'm not sure how to go about his training now. I can loose leash walk him just fine when there aren't other dogs near us. I'm not sure whether we should start training around other dogs with the flat collar at a distance, and gradually get closer, maybe with the help of a friend in a controlled situation... Or maybe just use the gentle leader in the store, and try to introduce him in a "*sniff sniff* Okay, Let's go!" type manner-- which he seems to do alright at. Or maybe something completely different?

    I've been reading "Click to Calm." Wonderful book-- I'm just stuck at the Gentle leader or Not, issue.

    What do you think our next plan of action should be?
     
  2. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    I initially trained Missy to walk nicely on a leash with a gentle leader. Once she was walking nicely, I took the head collar off and she magically wasn't, lol.
    What I did is a vamped up the training, and made sure that she was listening to my words, instead of following my hands on the lead. Then, for a couple of weeks I put the head halter on, and clipped the leash to the collar. I took her many places like this, and got as many experiences as I could, and rewarded her like crazy for good behaviors.
    Then I clipped the head halter around her neck, but did not put it on her nose. She tried to act up a couple of times just leaving the house, but I was consistent and I just stuck to my guns, and waited, and after that she was great. I only did it that way for like 2 days, and then I did away with the head collar all together.

    Especially in pet stores I got weird looks, and lots of people told me that she wasn't wearing it properly, or in order for it to work I had to attach the leash to the head collar . . :p LoL

    But it worked for me, so I just thought I'd share :)
     
  3. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Great advice, just what I was going to say.

    I'd like to add, though, that one of the benefits of the Gentle Leader is that it hits pressure points on the dog's face that actually have a calming effect on him. That combined with the fact that they are slightly limited in how they can move their heads, makes the Gentle Leader very effective in calming reactive dogs. You might want to practice working with Bruno around other dogs, using the methods in Click to Calm, and wearing a head halter. As I hope you've learned from the book, the idea is to make positive associations with dogs - when he looks at a dog, click/treat to show him that good things happen when other dogs are around. If you wait until he starts reacting, you've not only missed a good training opportunity, but he's reinforcing to himself that he should be reactive around dogs. It's just as important to prevent him from reacting as it is to form those new associations around other dogs (c/t when he looks at a dog), and IMO that's how a gentle leader helps.
     
  4. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    Perhaps... It's just that, like I said, when he's on the Gentle leader, he doesn't react to them until well into the meeting. It's like, there's no reaction to train him out of with it on. I suppose, though, that we could perfect it by clicking and treating whenever he's near or greeting another dog.

    It just worries me, the dramatic difference between the two. When I practice walking him without it in my neighborhood, I'm afraid of another dog coming up to us.

    This did happen the other day, and he went crazy. Mostly pulling and lunging. I tried to drag him away, because I didn' know what the other dog was going to do. But she stayed back, and Bruno kept reacting. I didn't get nervous that time, either.
     
  5. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    i'd stop letting him greet dogs on leash. he sounds too aroused ("he pulled like crazy") and the growl is no good. he doesn't need to greet dogs at this point. he needs to learn to be calm in their presence.

    i wouldn't take off the GL until you've got calm. not just "not barking, not carrying on" but calm. then i'd go to the flat collar, back up a whole lot of steps to the point where he's able to be calm, and move slowly forward from there.
     
  6. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    That's what I'm talking about-- He's perfectly calm with the gentle leader on. He doesn't pull-- lunge--- bark-- or growl with a quick greeting.

    Without the gentle leader, I am currently NOT allowing any meetings, because if a dog walks by him on his flat collar, he just screams and lunges. Obviously I don't purposely allow this, but in the store, dogs can walk around corners and down aisles, and 'surprise' us.


    So from your suggestions here, it looks like my best plan of action might be to practice on the Head collar a little bit more, make sure he's perfectly okay with that. Then start acting calm around dogs on the flat collar from distances, making them shorter gradually. I might need to leave the store and do this in a controlled situation first.

    Sound about right?
     
  7. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    yup, i know about surprises. i wouldn't take him in the store on a flat collar at all right now. the more he practices going over his threshold, the faster he'll be at it.

    i think you will need to leave the store. you can't control the surroundings well enough. maybe the parking lot? that'd be possible at our petsmart because it's not that busy and it's off to the side of the shopping center, so not a huge huge amount of traffic.

    good luck!
     
  8. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    Thanks! I think I'll try that. Actually, the Petsmart in the next city is HUGE, with wide aisles and big open spaces. Maybe we can practice there on less busy days.

    Also: I brought a kajillion-year-old male Pekingese into the house the other day, and he met it off-leash, in my kitchen, just fine. They are living in Perfect harmony. No problems. I've never had a problem with him and other dogs in the home, so far.

    This means he's not Dog aggressive, but either dog-selective or just plain dog-reactive when we're out, right? How would you view this behavior?
     
  9. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    I'm no expert, but from what I've read I'd call it reactive... espeically if on leash in your case...

    There are a lot of people on here who can give you great advice with that, because other than 'in theory' I've never dealt with it, so I'll leave that to the experts :p

    Good Luck! :)
     
  10. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    A lot of dogs are leash reactive - when they're on a leash they are more reactive than when they're off leash. There are many reasons why being on a leash is more stressful to a dog, none of which are really that important to this discussion. But it is an important thing to note, though, so that you'll have a better idea of how to predict what he's going to do and when he's going to react.

    And yeah, I'd click/treat any time he greets another dog on leash, no matter what equipment he's wearing.
     

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