If Tugger runs the Iditarod every time you clip a leash to his collar or if he becomes aggressive with dogs you meet on the street, a head collar may be a useful addition to your canine tool box.
Local dog trainer Jackie Krieger demonstrated use of the head collar at a recent Queen City Dog Training Club meeting. (Cincinnati, OH) She showed tapes showing the use of the collar and then used one on a young dog that pulls constantly against his traditional training collar. In about five minutes, the dog was walking without pulling.
The head collar is in widespread use in Britain and Europe. In this country, it is better known as a halter, a contraption more commonly seen on the head of a horse than on a dog. The head collar for dogs has two basic parts — the collar that fits snugly around the dog's neck just in back of his ears, and the face loop that fits loosely over his muzzle and allows complete and gentle control of the head. The face loop is not a muzzle. The dog can breathe, pant, eat, drink, and kiss your face while wearing the face loop.
The leash is attached to the head collar underneath the dog's chin. Most dogs fight the head collar at first, but if it is fitted correctly and if the handler coaxes the dog into acceptance, the dog will accept it in short order. The key is to maintain a happy attitude, give the dog treats when he walks without pawing at the face loop, and calmly control the dog if he tries to remove the loop.
Since the leash is attached to the head collar under the dog's chin, a gentle pressure upward on the leash will stop the dog from pawing at the loop. If the dog drops his head in preparation for pawing at the loop, just lift up and keep walking — and as soon as the dog stops struggling, praise and give him a treat.
If the dog does forge ahead, steady pressure on the leash will turn him back towards you and prevent that arm-out-of-the-socket dash down the road.
Krieger uses the Gentle Leader, also known as the Promise collar, in her classes and private instruction. She also teaches clicker training, a reward system that can be used to teach commands and to reinforce corrections of unacceptable behavior. For more information about training with head collars, contact Krieger at (513) 481-6879. For more information about clicker training, see [From dolphins to dogs: The click and treat method of training]
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