Saturday, May 13, 2006

Heeling Hairry

Do any of you have problems getting your dog to behave properly on a leash? Do you envy those people whose dogs walk sedately at their side, with slack on the leash? If you answer YES to these questions, run, don't walk, to your nearest pet store and purchase the product pictured above!

I pride myself on raising well-behaved dogs. Our dogs have always known who the pack leader is in our house; MOM. They are so well house-broken, that they won't pee on pavement. They MUST have grass to relieve themselves. They know how to sit, stay, come, leave it, lay down, and shut up, before they're 4 months old. When it comes to heeling, I've always had problems.

Our first dog, Buddy, was 1/2 Husky. A Husky's instincts tell them to PULL, the minute they are attached to a lead. Buddy responded well to a choke collar. The instant the collar became tight, he would back off and heel.

Our next dog, Boo, was a golden lab. Boo was extremely BOSSY and we continually butted heads with her. SME and L were always members of BOO'S pack, and Z was HER baby. Boo was well trained and behaved very well, in the house. Leash training was another story. Boo insisted on walking with the leash in her mouth, which circumvented the choke collar. I COULD have trained Boo out of this habit, but I just didn't have the time. I became pregnant with Z, when Boo was 4 months old; so leash training got put on the back burner.

Hairry, another golden lab, has NEVER had authority issues. He'll meekly let much smaller dogs bully him into submission. I always thought that Hairry's leash problems were a result of his enthusiasm. The minute he sees his leash, Hairry totally loses control and goes WILD! He immediately lunges to the end of the leash, tightening the choke collar, which makes him cough, gag, and wheeze. He merrily pulls us along, gagging and wheezing all the way.

I have been working with Hairry, in the house, using the one-step-at-a-time method. With this method, you command the dog to sit, as soon as they get one step in front of you. We were making SOME progress, in the house, with this method. The only problem is that this method requires DAILY reinforcement! Between work, homeschooling, and daily chores, I can't find the time for this.

I came across the Headcollar while shopping for rawhide bones at Menards this week. The enclosed instructions state that pressure at the front of a dog's neck, makes them want to pull. The Headcollar transfers pressure to the back of the dog's neck, which signals them to stop. In addition, the Headcollar has a loop which goes over the dog's nose. When the dog exerts pressure on the leash, the nose loop gently pulls their head back and towards you. This motion immediately tells the dog that YOU are in control. When the dog allows the leash to go slack, he regains his head motion.

The trickiest part of the Headcollar is fitting it properly. Hairry sat patiently for 1/2 an hour while I tightened and loosened the clasp according to the clearly written instructions.

Thursday afternoon was the only rain free time we've had all week, so I decided to take Hairry for a walk with his Headcollar. Hairry obediently allowed me to put the collar on his head. The minute I snapped his leash to the collar, Hairry went wild. Hairry stepped out the front door and lunged to the end of the leash. The nose loop immediately brought him up short, and looking at me in disbelief. Hairry then rolled his eyes and proceeded to have an all out temper tantrum. He leaped in the air, then threw himself on the ground, just like a spoiled 2 year old at the toy store. Hairry continued his tantrum for a full 5 minutes, while I stood calmly holding the leash. So this WAS a control issue with Hairry!

After exhausting himself with his tantrum, Hairry sat down and looked at me expectantly. We then took several tours around the yard so Hairry could test the limits of the collar. I got a few resentful looks, but he quickly realized that MOM and the leash were in control of the situation. We then went on the 2 block walk to my parents house. Hairry tested his limits several times, but he eventually resigned himself to allowing the leash to go slack.

The walk home was a dream come true. I allowed Hairry just enough slack on the leash so he could happily snuffle the ground as he walked at my side. He never ONCE pulled the leash tight!!

I found the Head Collar a bit pricey, at $16.95, for a couple of buckles on a couple of feet of nylon strap. After our walk, I thought it was worth EVERY PENNY!

19 Comments:

At 5/13/2006 12:38 PM, Blogger Davey said...

Martha, oddly, has one of those for me. Seriously I was dead set agianst them but after 2 mnths. Benson could walk most times with no lead at all. Was also way more productive than a choke chain.
Davey

 
At 5/13/2006 2:27 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Wow, what a great invention. Some people feel guilty when using a choke chain. This sounds like the perfect solution. I'm glad that this has helped with Hairry. I'll have to remember and recommend it to anyone I know with the particular dog problem.

 
At 5/13/2006 2:47 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Yeah, Hairry totally ignores a choke chain. I'm hoping that, eventually, Z will be able to control him on a walk.
BTW, I didn't know they came in husband sizes. I'll have to check our their website. ;)

 
At 5/13/2006 2:51 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Squirl, this has saved me a ton of time. Taking Hairry for a walk used to be a chore, now it's enjoyable.

 
At 5/13/2006 3:02 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Tried it with Kipper. Couldn't use it. Rubbed the bridge of his nose raw something awful. But prong collar works pretty good.

 
At 5/13/2006 3:59 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

GWB, the instructions say that it isn't fit properly, if it rubs their nose raw. It took a LOT of adjusting to get the fit right.

 
At 5/13/2006 4:30 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

That's a nice invention. I have used choke chains and I hate them, even though I've found them effective. It makes me feel bad, though, and some dogs choke themselves half to death before they "get it". :-/

 
At 5/13/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

It's great, Notta! No pain, just control. Hairry got it right away. Unlike the choke chain, which he NEVER surrendered to.

 
At 5/13/2006 9:03 PM, Blogger Candace said...

That sounds like a great product! I'm LMAO over poor Hairry's temper tantrum! :-D

 
At 5/14/2006 1:03 AM, Blogger Miranda said...

Hairry sounds all cute, but I have to feel a little sorry for him :(. Poor bullied puppy.

 
At 5/14/2006 6:30 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Candace, it WAS funny. He looked like one of those bulls in the bull riding competitions. I didn't dare laugh at him, or he would have kept it up.

Miranda, my parent's dog is the worst. She tries to bar his way into the living room and kitchen, at their house. She also tries to keep him away from all of us, so we can't pet Hairry. We don't let her get by with this though.

 
At 5/14/2006 4:10 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

My daughter has a Golden Retriever, Wolf, who would also pull and gag himself, his tongue would turn deep purple from lack of oxygen and the dumb dog would still pull! She also got a gentle leader for him and it worked. Don't you love it when a product does what it's supposed to? :-)

 
At 5/15/2006 6:37 AM, Blogger --R said...

My old boss had a pair of chocolate labs that literally outweighed her. She swore by the gentle leader. Glad to see it worked for you too!
Loved the bit about Hairry's temper tantrum; too funny.

 
At 5/16/2006 6:37 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, that's the first thing I've bought in a long time that does what it promises.

~r, one bratty lab at a time is enough for us! ;)

 
At 5/17/2006 8:11 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Handy management applications too.

heh heh heh

 
At 5/17/2006 9:12 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bridg, I prefer a choke chain for management. ;)

 
At 5/18/2006 9:06 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

and it can be used for spanking too...

 
At 5/19/2006 6:38 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Don't let Scrunch hear you say that, Bridg! ;)

 
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