Here’s this week’s plan – 5 consecutive posts with 5 different resolutions to this pesky challenge that many dog owners face every time they put a leash on their dog. In fact, in my little world, leash behavior is the number one issue that owners want help from me.
I’m opening this on-going discussion with a recommendation for a helpful tool that my clients have had much success. That tool is the Gentle Leader Headcolllar or a Halti. I’m sure there are other manufacturers but these are my ‘go to’ brands. It will stop pulling and lunging. It offers gentle control, is painless and does not choke the dog. It takes the pressure off the neck – always a good thing. You can find them on the internet or at your favorite big box pet store. It comes with a CD as well as written instructions that are clear with excellent step-by-step illustrations. Once you have adjusted the fit properly no further adjustments are needed unless your dog is growing. It is meant to be a training tool but many clients use them permanently as part of ‘the walk’ equipment.
I recommend that you get your dog used to the head collar by letting the dog smell and nose the tool – be sure to click and reward. Continue to the next step of putting the nose loop on the dogs nose, click/reward. When you can do that with no resistance, then click the collar. I suggest you go through this exercise for your own comfort as well as for the comfort of the dog before attaching the leash and going for a walk. Be patient and kind. I have seen dogs accept the Gentle Leader in just a couple of minutes or it may take more sessions before the dog ‘gets it’. If that is the case for your dog make sure to keep the sessions short and end on a positive note.
I also recommend adding a few TTouches to calm and decrease any stress the dog may be feeling before you head out the door. The Touches will enable the dog to learn. Remember the discussion and video about mouth work? If so, you might also take a few minutes to do some mouth work. This will also affect his demeanor and he will more readily accept the head collar.
Enjoy your walk!