Let's Take a Walk (Collar Reviews)

This is a continuation from the Let's take a Walk post.

Next you need a collar. In the beginning Biggie pulled like you couldn't believe. Lunging this way and that. So we went and bought the gentle leader halti collar. It works wonder that thing.
But although we loved it, Biggie hated having it on. So, if you're going to use it then introduce it to your dog very slowly with lots and lots of treats.
Regardless of Biggie's protest, we still used the gentle lead collar and thought all our problems were solved. That is, until we went to our obedience trainer and she insisted we learn on a flat collar!
In hindsight I'm glad she did because it's just easier attaching a leash to Biggie's everyday collar. Although we do use the prong collar as well for behavioral training aid on walks.
I'll go into more detail on the products above in the continuation of the blog below. Also see the section on flat collars in the essentials for new dog post.

Halti gentle leader.

Pros and cons. Pros are that it works great and does what it intends to, stops your dog from pulling. Every time your dog lunges, pulls, or gets ahead of you then the design of the leash sends their head towards you along wig a gentle tug on the dogs neck. This accomplishes a few things. One, in the dog world, dominant dogs (including parents) discipline or guide the other dogs by the neck. Such is the rationale behind the gentle tug on the neck in the gentle leader, pinch collars, and prong collars. So your dog gets immediate feedback of incorrect behavior in a language it understands. The gentle leader also fits over a dogs snout, which serves to make the dog look in your direction whenever the leash is pulled (by you or them). Going back to dog psychology the pack always looks to the pack leader for the next move; so mechanically you are teaching the pup that you dictate how the walk should go. The cons were: putting it on a dogs snout can be a (slightly) time consuming and awkward versus a standard neck collar. Although it doesn't interfere with the dogs jaw movement or vision, Biggie just didn't like the feel of something on his nose. It could be that we didn't introduce the collar slowly and with treats... But honestly, we didn't have the time to. Some people also viewed it as a muzzle and were hesitant to approach Biggie ( a con for us but possibly a pro for some). Overall I'd say this product worked as it was supposed to but wouldn't advise it unless other training efforts have failed using a standard collar.

Prong collar pros and cons. Against my wife's advice, I opted to get a prong collar. I know many people out there view them as inhumane, cruel, torture devices. However, there are many dog owners & trainers who swear by them. So let me explain my rationale behind purchasing the prong collar before you call PETA on me. First of all, Dogs are like Children in many ways. They depend on you for food, shelter, and guidance. Therefore a certain level of discipline is necessary for a dog to function in your family. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement but also see the necessity for appropriate, in-excessive, and minimal negative reinforcement. So, that being said, as I mentioned above Biggie had a habit of pulling and lunging on the leash. Those behaviors are 90% cured using treat/obedience training. However, occasionally he still pulls, runs ahead, or lunges... especially when trying to meet other dogs or people. Before using a prong collar I would have to repeatedly yank on the leash while using verbal commands (that he was ignoring). Now we have tried (and continue to try) using obedience training but the scenario of new dogs and new people are not easy to re-create. So, I decided that in place of repeatedly yanking on the leash, which is probably contributing to cervical vertebral/disc issues, I needed a more effective solution. As I mentioned above, in the Dog world, the grabbing/mouthing the neck is a form of communication. Therefore, a prong collar sends a clear message to the Dog in his/her language that their behavior is incorrect. Believe it or not, Dogs don't understand English (or any other language for that matter) except for verbal cues they have been trained to recognize. You can't reason with a dog or explain why pulling on the leash is the wrong thing to do. So, speak in their language, use a prong collar. As with any other dog product, it helps to introduce the collar slowly with lots of treats. Now that I use the prong collar I have notice much less escalation of episodes then Biggie is pulling/lunging. The best part is that it takes one tug for him to get the message. He doesn't wince, yelp, or cower with the collar either so I know the prongs aren't hurting him. I've even tried the collar on my leg and, although it definitely is not a pleasant feeling, I did not experience inhumane, cruel, torturous pain. I have listed the Herm Sprenger brand here because I've heard from other sources (outside of Amazon reviews) that it is the best brand.

I realize this is a long post... so my next post will be a few tips on how to train your dog to walk well on a leash and use these leashes/collars to your advantage.
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