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Halti type head collar for medium sized, nervous dog?

(31 Posts)
diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 15:34:22

We have now had our rescue bitch for around 6 months, and have been trying to train her to walk on a loose lead since we got her. At first she was extremely anxious and it was very much "nervous pulling" but now she's much happier out and about but still pulls - much worse with DH than me. We have been doing treating/ click and treating and stopping when she pulls / praising when she walks nicely but progress is glacial. The problem is it really restricts the amount of exercise she gets - we're not prepared to walk along with her pulling as that will just fix the habit, so with DH in particular she can't go that far. Her recall is also less than great so she doesn't yet get to go off the lead much (we're working on this). We are now reluctantly wondering about trying her with a Halti type head collar - we would obviously carry on training her as well, but just so we can start lengthening the walks. She's still a nervy dog so I'm not particularly comfortable with doing this, but obviously if she was finding it distressing we'd stop. She has a long snout so this type of collar should fit her quite well. Any thoughts and experience?

Lilcamper Mon 10-Mar-14 15:58:50

TBH most dogs really don't like head harnesses unless they are slowly and properly conditioned to them. You would be better off looking at a front attaching harness like this Perfect Fit

overthemill Mon 10-Mar-14 16:08:11

We use walkeezi harnesses when have puppy/training. It stops them being able to pull. Prefer them to halti type ones. Often have offers on website. You need to measure dog to get right size. Good customer service too

tabulahrasa Mon 10-Mar-14 16:12:21

I'd go with a front fastening harness as well if she's anxious - I use a headcollar and it took about a week of training to have him wearing it happily enough that I could actually try using it outside and he's a confident dog. Having something on their face can be upsetting.

With a harness they tend not to be bothered by it the same way and so it's quicker to get going and less risk of upsetting an anxious dog.

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 16:33:28

Sorry, should have said - we already use a Perfect Fit harness with a front attachment which we use with a double lead. It helps somewhat but she still pulls.

mrslaughan Mon 10-Mar-14 16:34:53

I recommend the dogmatic - it doesn't tighten around the dogs head or muzzle. But as everyone above has said, they need to be introduced slowly and positively

tabulahrasa Mon 10-Mar-14 16:37:55

In that case seeing as you already have a harnesss - I'd get a flexi lead...I know some people really don't like them, but...

If you concentrate on loose lead walking up to where you would let her off if her recall was better and then put her on the flexi - it shouldn't affect the training you're doing on a short lead and then you can get in the exercise part of her walk and pop her back on her normal lead on the way home again.

Floralnomad Mon 10-Mar-14 16:42:45

I'd go for a canny collar rather than a halti type , they are much better ,more like a normal collar .

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 16:45:56

Thanks for the response. I quite like to idea of a flexi lead but was warned off by quite a few people (including our dog trainer) who said that it "rewarded" dogs for pulling as if they pulled the lead got longer. We have a long training line which we use sometimes to try and give her a bit more exercise but have to be a bit careful where we use it (our usual field is currently flooded and full of cowpats so using a long line is deeply unpleasant, and obviously we need to avoid wrapping up people and other dogs) and she does still lunge with it.

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 16:50:20

Thanks also for the suggestion of canny collar and dogmatic - will look into them.

tabulahrasa Mon 10-Mar-14 16:52:47

They do sort of reward dogs for pulling in that there is always a little bit of tension and of course they move further away and get to go further away...

But I've found (my dog can't be off lead because he has issues) that as long as I make a clear difference between normal lead time and flexi time he knows full well what the difference is, also as I attach the flexi to the back of the harness it doesn't pull on him in the same way anyway.

I swap him back to a short lead to pass dogs as well, so I have full control.

I find it useful just to give him a bit of freedom and down time from the constant loose lead walking training.

Lilcamper Mon 10-Mar-14 16:53:04

Flexi leads can actually encourage pulling because of the mechanism in them and oppositional reflex. A long line would be better.

Eastpoint Mon 10-Mar-14 17:08:09

We have a gentle leader and something else but the label has worn off (useless info).

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 17:27:52

Will also look at Gentle leader as well - thanks. One of the reasons I was edging towards a Halti was that they attached to her normal collar, and some people report their dogs can get out of a head collar, which would be a disaster in Diplodog's case if she wasn't restrained. Do you find this a problem with the other makes? Presumably I could still attach a double lead to the head collar / normal collar anyway?

daisydotandgertie Mon 10-Mar-14 17:39:03

I'd approach it in a slightly different way. All of these devices don't actually solve the problem, they manage it, which wouldn't be enough for me.

It sounds as though a lot of your training is linked to walks? I would split the two for her, and although it sounds lazy, I would drive to the place I was walking because it sounds as though for her, pulling = walk/excitement.

I would then spend ten minutes a day working on lead walking. How is she walking to heel off lead? Can you teach her to do that using treats? If you can, you're nearly there.

For me, it's about breaking the association it sounds as though she has, so pulling = walk should be replaced with walk only. Her self fulfilling behaviour of pulling to get to the walk is currently working really well, so her doggy logic says keep on doing it.

Work on the lead work on its own, as a training exercise with no destination in mind. Ten minutes a day for a couple of weeks should pay huge dividends.

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 17:51:49

Daisy - thanks for your reply. She walks OK to heel in the garden with treats (including off lead) and has for quite a while, but she becomes much less "treat oriented" when out and about. There would be no chance of her walking to heel anywhere else off lead. We do a lot of this anyway in the garden, but it just doesn't translate when out and about. I often drive her to the park (it's too far to walk) so we can practice recall on a long line and if I walk her on the long line there she still lunges a bit (although with DH she pulls and lunges a lot more despite the fact he's the one to take her to training classes and has done more loose lead work with her over the last few months as he's at home with her all day).

tabulahrasa Mon 10-Mar-14 17:55:56

"One of the reasons I was edging towards a Halti was that they attached to her normal collar, and some people report their dogs can get out of a head collar, which would be a disaster in Diplodog's case if she wasn't restrained."

It's a gentle leader I have as well, but an older style one as I prefer it and I just use the double end lead and that means that you can use the end attached to the collar more as they get the hang of it.

Haltis come off much easier than more fitted types of headcollar, when loose they just slip off.

Owllady Mon 10-Mar-14 18:00:28

What kind of dog is she?
If she is a collie, well I sympathise

I also use a harness, just a normal one. Consistency. Training. If collie, distraction type lead, so sit - one step, sit, two step, sit, three step, until she is fully focused on you.

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 18:04:01

Thanks Tabulah and everyone else- loads to think about. Really want to do what's best for her - she's absolutely lovely but quite a handful in many ways. Had really hoped her anxiety would have improved more after 6 months (although it certainly has got better) and the lead pulling thing feeds into this - we can't have her out and about as much as we would like because she pulls, and therefore she gets less chance to overcome her fears in a controlled way.......

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 18:05:29

Owllady - she's a crossbreed. Probably spaniel / jack russell with maybe some sort of hound thrown in. About the size of a springer.

Owllady Mon 10-Mar-14 18:08:27

So, she's an intelligent dog and most probably needs occupying more as you walk along. It's bloody hard though, I do understand.
Can you attend a class with her too?
The temptation is to avoid people/public/classes when the opposite is more helpful iykwim

nuttymutty1 Mon 10-Mar-14 18:13:43

I guess that the reason she will not walk to heel out and about is that she is in a state of high arousal, maybe anxious and slightly over threshold.

All a head collar will do in this situation is to make her feel even more restrained and actually will increase the anxiety. She may be easier to walk though but I think she will be more stressed in the long run and so will take even longer to get her to feel calm out and about.

I would carry on working on heel at home and also work on calming exercises. Then I would gradually increase the distractions eg be able to do the exercises and walk to heel in front garden just outside you house etc.

Tbh on I would not worry about her pulling when she is in a high state of arousal - the arousal needs to be worked on before you will ever get a good heel in areas of high distraction

ender Mon 10-Mar-14 18:14:36

We got a Gencon Head Collar for our very hyper rescue GSD, he's friendly and sociable off lead but tends to bark and lunge at other dogs, and sometimes people, when on lead.
I was expecting him to hate the head collar but he was fine, I just put it on him and went out for a walk. Surprisingly he was a lot calmer and just looked straight ahead and walked instead of constantly scanning the horizon for other dogs to bark and lunge at.
We still do short walks with ordinary collar at quiet times to keep the training up.

diplodocus Mon 10-Mar-14 18:15:02

She does attend a class and does quite well in the hall now that she's got used to having other dogs around and knows she can't play with them. We've also attended some outdoor loose lead workshops which are less successful because they're outside. She gets very distracted, partly because that's what she's like (she's very scent oriented) and partly because it's a very different environment to what she's used to - we're very rural and the workshops are held in the centre of a much bigger village which she must think is like Leicester Square!

nuttymutty1 Mon 10-Mar-14 18:18:08

Do not use a gencon on a highly nervous dog, it is really a slip collar with a nose noose. The way it work is tightening around the dogs neck and nose when the dog lunges and stops oxygen getting to the brain - result an even more panicky dog.

Although there is a reason why dogs appear calmer on a gencon and that is due to the nose noose. It acts a bit like a thundershirt and having a loop on the dogs nose can in itself be calming but the tightening around the neck is not great.

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