Head Collar

Training and behavior topics, guidelines, and tips for Chow Chows.

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Head Collar

Postby gluesticks » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:37 am

So I'm experimenting using a head collar with Louie, so that when he is about 60-70lbs I can manage his pulling (I am a small person). I'm wondering if anyone else has ever used one on a chow before?

Day 1 with the head collar went well! While at times he tried to pull it off his snout, he otherwise ignored it and walked. The plus' of a head collar? No pulling, will more likely stay by my side, and it gives him more confidence when greeting pedestrians (due to the apparent pressure points of the collar behind the ears.) These were the dramatic observations I made while walking him with it on today.

For those of you who do not know what a head collar is, it is a collar with a an attached strap that wraps around the dogs muzzle. This directs the dog and applys little pressure, therefore preventing pulling. It is not a muzzle.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Jdcell100 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:03 pm

I had great success with a harness. Just got a 9 week old blue chow put the harness on him he walks like a pro.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby gluesticks » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:19 am

I still use a harness for casual training, but he pulls like a maniac with a harness. The head collar is great for walks, and I may not have to use it as an adult if he learns to stop pulling with it.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Tippsy'smom » Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:39 pm

I don't like the head collars. I tried one with my mix, Dixie, and I thought the was going to break her neck when she decided she wanted to chase a car. I have an Easy Walk Harness for walks in the neighborhood. It attaches to the front of their chest instead of on their back and keeps them from pulling. And I use a prong collar on Dixie in public and a chain slip collar on Jazz. They don't NEED them anymore, but they're just a reminder to them to behave. But Dixie's head collar is buried in a box full of collars and it won't ever be touched again.
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Re: Head Collar

Postby Merlin » Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:55 am

but he pulls like a maniac with a harness


This is because your dog has never been properly taught how to walk on a lead - and a harness IS for pulling, it's not for any other use but.

If a dog is properly taught to walk at heel, it doesn't matter what type of harness, equipment, or headgear you use,.... the dog will walk approrpriately without pulling.
SOrry! Sounds like your dog needs to be educated.
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Re: Head Collar

Postby gluesticks » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:33 pm

Wow.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Tippsy'smom » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:55 am

Another thing about the head collar; I found it made Dixie feel vulnerable. She got REALLY defensive around other dogs, even if they we're paying any attention to her (many people thought she was aggressive because of it)... So between this and the fact that I thought she was going to break her neck, I packed it away.

And Merlin is right. A head collar, a "choke chain", a prong collar, or the Easy Walk Harness are all only training tools. Without training, they're useless. You should be able to walk your dog with a loose leash on a plain collar or a regular harness (which mine can, I only use the tools I have a reminders to them) without them pulling. There is NO replacement for training.
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Re: Head Collar

Postby gluesticks » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:26 am

Merlin: I understand that training is involved. Louie is currently and recently enrolled in a training course. But to state that he needs training but not offering any method on HOW to properly do that was a little rude. Don't assume training is not attempted without reading previous posts. I only stated that regardless of perfect training, I am a petite person and if he should bark, lunge, run, or pull at a unique moment, that I have control (especially when he is an adult. Sorry!

... I've since purchased the easy walk. I've experienced the same head wiping when he would encounter something he thought frightening and decided it was best to go back to a body restraint. I like the easy walk a lot better and seems to have gotten the hint that he shouldn't go off so far and seems a lot less stressed. This Wednesday, he officially learns walk training.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Merlin » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:49 am

Why is it that it's "rude" to spell out the truth.? You're not standing in front of me in class, so why am I going to teach you to do something over the internet without being able to correct any possible errors?

BASIC level 101 training is come/ sit/stay/down and walk at heel.
That is the most basic level in any obedience class.

I can't imagine ANY dog school or any trainer telling you it's ok to switch from a collar to a head collar to a harness to a whatever. I don't believe it and I don't buy into it.
If you are attending dog school like you say you are, t hen they would have outlined exercises to get this dog to stop pulling and if you applied yourself judiciously then you'd definitely see progress. The "walk" is usually done in the very first lesson. It's not equipment that teaches a dog how to properly walk on a lead, it's training.

To give you a time line, once you learn how to walk your dog properly ( especially a young dog), it generally doesn't take more than 5 - 10 days for especially a young dog to have this engrained in his head ( even a chow). It doesn't take weeks on end, or months, it takes about 5 days or so. Once the dog understands what it is that you want of him, you'll get compliance. Your dog doesn't understand that he's supposed to be following you.

If you are a petite person then all the more reason your dog needs to learn exemplary manners.
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Re: Head Collar

Postby gluesticks » Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:06 pm

By recently I meant he has only attended ONE class. He is THREE MONTHS old. And the trainer did not suggest the head collar.

Thank you for the 'advice.'

Louie is doing much better on the easy walk on my own personal choice. Cannot wait for his next class.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Merlin » Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:40 pm

gluesticks wrote:
Louie is doing much better on the easy walk on my own personal choice. Cannot wait for his next class.


That's my point exactly. This is not going to help you in school , because you won't be able to use it in school.
so what is the point of confusing the dog, and again, it isn't equipment that teaches a dog to walk properly.

It doesn't matter that you dog is only 3 months old. At that age he surely can already know the 5 basics of basic obedience.- but good luck in your classes
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Re: Head Collar

Postby Rory's Dad » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:49 pm

I guess i will have a question then. BTW, my chow is a 14 month old, intact male. He is well trained in all areas except loose lead walking. He sits, goes down on command, speaks when asked, and allows full inspection without hesitation. He behaves well for grooming unless the technician tickles his paws, then he mouths a bit.

Typical chow, he has selective hearing when outside his normal comfort zone. Rory understands different situations. We show him in AKC Confirmation events, and he (mostly) behaves well on a show lead. At home, he will pull to no end with either a typical lead or with a flexi-lead. And it doesnt matter who is on the other end of the lead. He knows the difference and reacts based solely on the lead type. We have been leaning toward a front clip harness to make his every day walks easier...both on him and us. He needs to have his walking focus directed away from 'straight ahead', 'rory direction', to where we want him to go. Obviously, this IS a training issue, but he pretends not to hear you, and is not interested in any sort of treat/reward in these situations. He is rewarded differently based on situation...in house, everyday commands are one treat, after proper outside 'routines' are another level of reward, and show baiting is completely different.

I think the only way to get him to walk in the desired manner is to correctively change it with equipment. I would like to think that after a while with this he would get it, but based on him already knowing the differences, that may not be the case. He becomes so singular minded in his efforts to explore and mark territory there may be no choice but to utilize the harness to keep him going in our direction.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Merlin » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:34 am

He is well trained in all areas except loose lead walking.


You just answered your own question.

Who taught him to behave well on a show lead? If it was you, then you can teach him to behave well on a "walk" lead.

If it wasn't you, then go of course to someone who can demonstrate to you the process below.

When the chow is in the ring he seems to know that he is "working"... so he works. When he's out on a lead on a walk he doesn't seem to know that he's supposed to be "working" also... so he's running a free-for-all. He's doing this because this is what he has learned so far.

You don't need treats to teach a dog to walk on a leash, so don't feel bad that treats don't do the job for you.
Not all dogs are food motivated and frankly I find this to be one of the positive qualities in any chow.

You need to work with two people.
and you need two people, because chows, as you well know, are stubborn, and when Plan A fails, they will switch to Plan B, then Plan C, and Plan D.
lonnnng before they decide to cooperate with you.

You need to STOP dead in your tracks when this dog pulls, each time, every time, now matter, where you are, no matter what you are doing. and wait for the "release in tension on the lead", and LOOKS at you ( and it can take quite a while with chows), you can help the release happen by throwing in a, "half halt", or, a series of half halts, then , the moment you have that "release" on the lead, and the eye contact, you immediately use your cue word ( ie: heel" and move off in another direction with the dog.) The second person is the person who stays behind the dog to defer any attempt for the dog to sit, or pull backwards. ( which any chow worth their salt will most likely do) This is a repeated process that finally sinks into the head of the dog, because he learns he only moves if you move. And once he learns it, and knows you to be consistent, he learns it forever. The key person is the person in back of the dog, so if you're going to do this, work with someone who knows what they are doing to get the timing right.

this IS a training issue, but he pretends not to hear you

because it's worked for him. He's not stupid. He's learned that it is a technique that has worked for him. period. In fact, he's very busy training you.

He is rewarded differently based on situation


The reward is...... if he cooperates.. he gets to go on a walk.. That's the reward. You don't need any other reward. It's simple... just like chows are simple and not complicated.

Without wanting to start a war with anyone,. the jury is STILL out on treat training methods in many areas. Dogs who work for clickers don't work for treats and they work JUST as well as treat trained dogs, sometimes even better.

- You can pay your teenager $5.00 every time the child cleans up his room and puts away his toys - then good luck to you if you ever run out of money

- You can also let your teenager out to play , or watch tv, borrow the car or do something enjoyable every time the child cleans up his room and puts away his toys. The cost to you is free. The rewards to the teenager..... bountiful and based on a much higher moral value.

Both are rewards. Both are based on a different mentality of training.

NB: Having spent years working with aggressive chows, the last thing you ever want to do is give them food anyways. The only dogs who give up food to another dog, is a submissive dog. So in the eyes of your chow, you're constantly being submissive while asking him to do something in a non-submissive manner, even though you're standing in front of him... doing something submissive. ( imagine the state of confusion in the dog's mind).

In order to get a chow to truly focus on food, is to keep the dog constantly on the edge of hunger, and it has been my observation that in fact, it makes the dog even more aggressive, far less willing to cooperate at many intrinsic levels, and the dog often sits there, considering whether or not to attack you for the food. Some actually do. You won't ever see a pack of dogs reward each other with food, and a chow.... is a primitive dog.... so don't even bother with food. THAT's why so many training institutions and trainers can't want to work with them, because their entire program is "food reward" based, and many of them have ended up bitten by the very dogs they are trying to train.

Good Luck. In your case, it's not all the difficult to achieve
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Re: Head Collar

Postby Ursa's daddy » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:21 am

This has been kinda interesting. First, chows are smart, like a politician. (I hope that doesn't come across as an insult, especially this soon after the election) Chows can read people, which is why Malachi frustrates Kitty (wife). I can pull out the harnesses, and my two are like kids after eating bunch of candy. They know that means a ride in the van, and they are totally excited. I get the collars and the long leads, and they are excited, but they know it means a walk in the front. I have a 20 ft lead for each, and end up carrying most of it. I let Kitty walk them some time back, because she always said they would pull, and she ended up letting the lead drag on the ground and stepping on it. Every time she stepped on it, the dogs would halt. As Rory's Dad points out, chows are smart enough to know what is expected and provide that. They are actors, if you will, and training is more of rehearsals for the show. They are good at figuring out what the show is going to be, and adapt their style to the expected audience. Rewards can be anything. I like to use verbal and physical attention rewards. I am not likely to run out of kisses and kind words. When we go in public, I put a handful of cat food kibbles in my shirt pocket. My two think that this is something special, and I can break the kibbles into pieces smaller that a split pea. When they begin to loose focus, I will slip them a bit of food. In another post, Jess mention using a toy reward, which is also an idea that I like. I have no experience with this, but know it is a good idea. Clickers work, but I have not been trained with them, so that would be a new experience for me. As Jess noted, all the training collars and harnesses are tools to assist the trainer. They are not magic. YOU have to work with the dog to teach what is expected. It is all about conditioning (training is what we call it, but it actually is conditioning). When I first got Ursa, she did not want to walk anywhere. It was more of a relocation of sitting spots. Malachi wanted to go and smell everything. Now they do fairly well. They don't heel, and I use voice to direct them, but I am happy with their behavior. I could spend more time with them, but I am as lazy as they are. It is all repetition. You are going to have to work A LOT with your dog. He will learn what you expect. The key work is EXPECT. If you allow him to pull, then he learns that you expect him to pull, and he will deliver that, because he thinks that is what you want. "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Practice, practice, practice.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Rory's Dad » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:41 pm

Thanks Merlin and Ursa...great responses. Reminded me of what i actually knew, but was a bit impatient in putting into practice. When Rory was a pup, i used to walk him for everything, he never went on the trolley run unsupervised. I actually did use the 'stop' routine with him. Idea being to teach him that he would get where we were going quicker by actually walking nicely.

As he got older and stronger, i got frustrated with the amount of energy it took to walk him and to keep him in control. I shorten the amount of lead, pull him back, and vent my frustration.

I really like the 2 person approach idea. Thanks for that. And nice pickup on the food motivation. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he is not hungry at walk time because it comes after breakfast or dinner. Rory's show handler actually cut his food amounts prior to his last outing and he did respond way better to baiting. Since he needs to be walked after eating, not sure how i will adjust to that, but certainly is a factor. Although he definitely understands 'nothing for free', (he wont even take a treat if not asked to do something to earn it), different approach seems like a good idea.

And since Ursa brought up the political issues...nah, just kidding.

Thanks again, useful conversations.

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Re: Head Collar

Postby Merlin » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:25 am

Code: Select all

vent my frustration.


Anyone who's attended my classes will tell you that one of the first things I do is put a choker around their wrist, and give the lead to a spouse or friend or companion or just another student, and tell them to mimick everything that you do when you try to walk your dog.

- You quickly, and I mean quickly learn two things:

- the person you love, trust or supposed to work with, is very busy hurting you whether on purpose or not on purpose.

- you're busy trying to walk your rank dog while someone is trying to walk you.... do you see the correlation? Your dog is busy trying to do his own thing. You need to synchronize your affair so both of you are doing the same thing........ without pain and you can only do this if you BOTH at the same party. I can't tell you what to do , but in your shoes.. forget the treats. You don't need treats to teach a dog to walk at heel, to pay attention to you, or to work with you.


Try it.. it will raise your eyebrows several notches.
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