Jump to content
BC Boards
Sign in to follow this  
sdl

Gentle leader

Recommended Posts

Just reading about "hot dog" & it reminded me of something I've been wondering about. Does anyone have any experience (good or bad) using a gentle leader with their BC? I know Kadee doesn't like it when we use hers...she kind of pouts when I go to put it on & rubs face to grass trying to get it off...I hope that's all in part of getting used to it - they say the more they don't like it - the more they need it. It does settle her down... The concern I have is that while we are walking with it on, she seems to pant alot with her tongue protruding slightly. I've loosened up the strap behind the ears (maybe too much at she still has a tendency to pull) and am pretty well convinced it's just a combination of the leader & warmer weather. I'd appreciate other input from others who have had experience with the gentle leader. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jake has a gentle leader too, since he's a horrible puller. At first he tried to get it off (as all dogs will do) but he's gotten used to it and gets excited when i bring it out. Still, he'll occationally stop in the middle of the sidewalk to scratch at his face. It makes me wonder if he'll test it until he's 10 years old, lol!

 

Oh, and it does work. I've been working with him to not pull without it too, and he's starting to learn. With the gentle leader, it gently reminds him that he shouldn't pull, when he gets a little too ahead of himself and starts to pull towards a bush

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used the GL on about 10 different dogs (at a local animal shelter) as well as my own BC.

 

With the shelter dogs I had to just put it on and ask them to 'get over it' quickly so that we could start working on manners asap. I would just put it on and every time they went to paw at it I would gently lift their head up w/ the lead so they couldn't - every dog eventually gave up fighting it and worked with me happily while wearing his/her GL. It worked very nicely on dogs from a Jack Russell mix to two Saint Bernards!

 

With my dog, I introduced the GL gradually. I clicked and treated for approaching it, sticking her nose in the loop, wearing it for 1 sec, then 3 sec, and so on. I would also put it on while she ate so she associated it w/ 'good things for dogs'. Eventually I put it on her for her walks and it worked well w/ no resistance on her part.

 

I haven't had any problems w/ the GL. I've even used it while rollerblading with Maggie and it's been fine, although I think it might restrict panting just a bit.

 

I wonder if the panting is a stress reaction; do you only use the GL in stressful situations? Maggie used to get stressed w/ her GL because I only used it in areas where we might have problems w/ other dogs (she doesn't like rude dogs or Goldens) - once I started having her wear it while she did fun things, she was much happier.

 

Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

how may I ask can a dog NOT get a GL off? misty can get them off as if they were not there. I dont even bother anymore, I plan to get misty a halti(she cant get a haltie off only a GL) to stop her pulling my arm off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Odd...of the 5 dogs I've used a GL and/or Halti on - they were all able to get the Halti off but NEVER the GL. I do know that there is a right and a wrong way to put on the GL. There is no 50% there. If it's on right - it's ON. If it's not - it takes any dog half a second to get it off.

 

Which means, the Halti probably wasn't on right in my case!

 

Our vet offers a program - if you buy the GL from them, you get a 30 minute private lesson on how to fit it, use it and work with it. It's 2 15 minute sessions 1 week apart. And they don't charge "more" for this. They said they were sick of seeing dogs come in with neck problems due to misuse of choke or prong collars.

 

That's how I started.

 

I don't like to use the GL as a cure all for everything. I ask those folks in my puppy classes to try the traditional methods on a puller first. Changing directions, be a tree, etc, etc. And I will work with them for the whole session (2 months). If we don't see any improvement, I will introduce the GL as I feel it's a better training tool for the dumb human when used correctly. Versus the choke chain (that is on wrong and chokes the dog that now pulls 100% of the time) and the prong collar (that is also way too loose, low on the neck and draws blood because the owner has no clue how to use it.)

 

All these "training" devices should be sold with lessons. It just amazes me what people show up to class with on their dogs necks!

 

The best is the "I'm using a harness because my dog pulls and pulls - but now he seems to be pulling more." Hmmm.... They look sort of stumped when I ask them what sled dogs use to pull the sleds.... :rolleyes:

 

Anyway - a properly fitted and properly used GL - has been very successful with my 4yr. old rescue Buddy. We tried everything - be a tree, changing direction, etc - for about a year. Since the GL - it's been heaven. He enjoys his walks, he's learned where the end of his leash is and my arm doesn't get pulled off.

 

When the GL comes out, Buddy runs up to me and puts his nose in it. He knows the GL = walkies!

 

He pants with it and drinks water without a problem. He can even get a ball in his mouth with it on.

 

With use, you will find the right tension that allows the dog to be comfortable when not pulling.

 

Denise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a fan of Haltis. They're not very adjustable, and the nose loop is a fixed size, and a clever dog can easily remove one -- that's why you're supposed to use a coupler with a Halti, to attach the halter to a flat collar. Otherwise, the dog gets out of the halter and voila, he's free.

 

Directions for fitting the Gentle Leader are on the website, which I think is http://www.gentleleader.com. I strongly recommend reviewing the directions on the website. But the brief version is:

 

(1) Neck loop must be relatively tight, and up behind the ears, the way a bridle would fit a horse. You should be able to put one or two fingers under it, no more, otherwise it's too loose.

 

(2) Nose loop is relatively loose. It should be able to travel down to the top of the nose leather, and no further. This gives more than enough room for panting, drinking, even holding a tennis ball.

 

The mistake most people make is to make the nose loop too tight and the neck loop WAY too loose. This causes the nose loop to dig in and move around (because the neck loop is too loose to "anchor" it), and this in turn causes the dog to frantically rub at his nose trying to get the annoying thing off.

 

If a GL is properly fitted, it's well-nigh impossible for a dog to get it off. He may, with enough effort, loosen the nose loop enough to slip it off but then he'll still have the collar on.

 

Solo wears a GL if he's going to be in a crowded area, or if I'm going to be taking him somewhere that I think a lot of people will want to try and pet him (most of these types think the GL is a muzzle and therefore leave him alone). He has always considered the GL to be just another collar and sticks his nose in when I hold it out.

 

I used to use a GL on Fly, because she pulls on lead. And whenever Solo is wearing one, Fly wears one too, so that I have more control and so people aren't tempted to approach both of my dogs to pet Fly. One thing I will say is that if you are using a GL to prevent pulling, you MUST couple the GL with active no-pulling training because a determined puller WILL learn to pull with it on. Fly is perfectly capable of pulling with a GL on, just not as hard, and it's easier to stop her -- but I can see how some dogs might get into the habit of towing just as easily on a halter as on a flat collar or a choke. The nice thing about the GL is that it gives you enough leverage to prevent the behavior so that you can install a new one. If you don't try to install a new behavior, the old behavior will resurface. I know a few dogs who just never pull on a GL, but Fly isn't one of them.

 

Finally, I wouldn't use a GL (or any training collar) on my dogs when we're rollerblading, because if I fell or otherwise had to stop short it would deliver a VERY harsh correction to the dog. Training collars of any kind should not be used on a long lead (where the dog can hit the end at speed) or in any context where someone is not actively handling the collar and using it to train the dog. I think the rumors about whiplash injuries from GLs are exactly that -- unfounded rumors (funny how the most avid rumor mongerers can never come up with a single piece of hard evidence of how "dangerous" these things allegedly are -- but I digress) -- BUT I still don't want to be jerking my dogs around on GLs, accidentally or not. To tell the truth I'm not sure rollerblading with dogs on flat collars is all that safe (although I've done it). It would be best to have the dogs on a harness. When I rollerblade with my dogs, we end up going pretty fast and if we had a crash it could get pretty damn ugly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

re: rollerblading w/ a GL: I only used the GL until I was sure Maggie wouldn't pull me off the trail (about 15 mins) for the reasons mentioned above. I figured having her run off after a squirrel would be more dangerous than the possibility of me falling.

 

I would love to get her a harness to run in, but I have an incredibly hard time finding one that won't rub Maggie when she runs. A regular walking harness rubs and so she refuses to go faster than a slow trot, and a sledding harness is too loose so she pulls out/gets tangled if I stop or she's not pulling (plus i don't want her to pull).

 

GL's, like any other piece of equipment, should be used carefully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maggies Mom,

 

I train my AB in protection and the harness made for that is designed different than regular harnesses. The dog has a large, padded, breastplate and the rear straps are set up several inches behind the dog's front legs. They are designed to take a dog lunging forward, sideways, and twisting around. Once it's fitted it's impossible for the dog to get out of them. They are all made out of leather so they'll last forever, but it will cost you more than a regular harness. The cheapest one will run you about $60.

If you'd like a few links to look at some just

e-mail me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! - All of you're replies have been SO helpful & really appreciated....in reply to whether or not I use the GL in stressful situations, no I don't - only when we go walking or if I need to calm Kadee down while she is at the office with me (which I haven't needed to do in over a month - I think that's amazing for a 6 mo old pup!)...I think the BC board & all of you are just wonderful....I didn't realize when I rescued Kadee on March 5th(my 1st BC & I was doubtful that I new enought about BC's + not quite ready for another dog due to still grieving the loss of my 12yr Keeshond last July and 15 yr Wheaton Mix last December - otherwise known and Keesha & Daisy Mae - "MY GIRLS") that I would have such a wealth of information available to me...I Thank you all!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Food for thought...

 

I just got back from a Search and Rescue conference that had a K-9 track and sat in on a "scent theory" workshop where the instructor discouraged the use of halties/gl (whatever they're called) because it could damage the nose and result in the dog not being effective while working.

 

Also, Piper just experienced 5 straight days of being on-leash and after awhile became pretty good heeling. (which is why I love living in Alaska, because there are so many trails here to walk that she is rarely on leash ). It was definitely a test for both of us. Oh and we use a harness with her and it worked fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Piper:

Food for thought...

 

I just got back from a Search and Rescue conference that had a K-9 track and sat in on a "scent theory" workshop where the instructor discouraged the use of halties/gl (whatever they're called) because it could damage the nose and result in the dog not being effective while working.

:rolleyes:

 

Did this person offer any documentation in support of their claims?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the only reason I plan to use a halti is because I have tried all the other methods of getting a dog not to pull and no results whatsoever from it, but when I put her on a halti my arm was not pulled off and she walked nice lol I try to avoid taking misty for walks because she pull sand pulls, heck she will continue to pull when she was so tired she could barly get up anymore, the second the leash is on she pulls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We still really don't have a full understanding of tracking and a dog's ability to scent so it may be hard to offer absolute proof of problems like Halti's, etc. I know many of us that train in tracking agree that dogs on antibiotics have trouble tracking even in conditions that should be easy for them. While there is no absolute proof of it, it's just an understanding among tracker trainers based on several experiences over the years. We just know, if the dog is on meds. don't trial.

I haven't heard of the Halti causing damage to a dog's scent ability, but I am sure that if it were used improperly it could cause a problem. Many training aids can be dangerous if used improperly.

My only question for those that use the head harness is how you go about weaning from them? I've never used one so I am curious how you go about weaning off of it to a regular collar. Why not use a prong collar instead? If it's fitted properly a prong is a wonderful training tool. Is there a benefit to the head harness over a prong?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did this person offer any documentation in support of their claims?
I'll look into it and get back to you...to be honest I just heard bits and parts of the speech because I was also trying to get Piper to sit quietly next to me...we were sitting in chairs on a dirt floor so she was intent on digging to China.

 

Also, I don't know much about scent theory. My husband is the one on the SAR team with Piper, I just call myself the Dog team support person. I go to their drills when I feel like it and support him when an actual search is called.

 

It is fascinating to me though how the SAR dogs work. I don't really understand it all, but just amazing to see Piper work...she is a certified level 1 wilderness air scenting dog (next is level 2).

 

At the conference they just had tons of stuff to sit in on. Not many border collies though, but tons of german shepherds, blood hounds and horses. Piper didn't think much of the horses, but all in all was a great experience.

 

Oh and also sat in on a great talk, by Kevin George on motivating dogs which was awesome. Picked up lots of tips there. He met Piper and called her a tramp and a hooker because she was crawling on her belly doing the puppy wiggle when he greeted her...so she has a new nickname. It was hilarious! He had us in stiches.

I just googled him and found this link dogs to the rescue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HKM's Mom -

 

Personally, my only feeling as to why the GL is better than a prong in the hands of your everyday owner is that the chance of this person drawing blood with a GL is much less (possible - god knows anything is possible) then with a poorly fitted prong.

 

As for weaning...ahh...it does work!

 

With Buddy (a year of correct fitting micro prong work and specific training to stop the pulling) his GL training is always done with a stern "NO PULL." At which time pressure is placed on the GL. This may be done by stopping or just holding firm on the leash until he gets into proper position.

 

After doing this for a few months, I can now say "NO PULL" on a regular buckle collar and he will back off. He is also much less likely to pull at all with or without the GL.

 

Denise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since a halter could neither impede the nasal passages, nor affect the olfactory nerves, I don't see how it could possibly affect scenting ability.

 

As for halter vs. prong, to me the halter has several advantages. Using a prong, the handler has very little control over the collar so that the dog corrects himself -- sometimes forcefully and painfully. IF I am going to use a collar to correct a dog, I want to have a lot more control over the correction than that. The "trigger" on a prong is just way too sensitive.

 

I don't like prongs because they work by causing pain. Dogs don't pull on them, because it hurts. And yes, I have tried a prong collar, both on my own neck and on my upper arm, reasoning that a dog's neck is probably a more sensitive than my arm and less sensitive than my neck. Personally, I would never put one on either of my dogs. Your mileage may vary. About the only good thing I can say is, I'd rather use a prong than a choke chain, if those were my only two options.

 

A halter works by giving leverage, rather than causing pain. A halter is not supposed to be used to correct the dog. Although you CAN correct a dog with one, I wouldn't personally do it because the nose loop could deliver a very harsh correction. Halters work by preventing behavior rather than correcting it, if that makes any sense.

 

I like that a halter specifically gives control over the head. You can use a halter to get the dog to turn and look at you, to keep him from grabbing something off the ground, to close his mouth if he's trying to nip (if you're using a GL, which has a slip loop around the nose). This is what makes them so especially useful for dogs with behavioral problems. If you want to look at these kinds of things as corrections, they're extremely appropriate ones. If a puppy were, say, trying to go for someone's pants, wouldn't it be great to be able to reach out, grab him around the muzzle, and stop him? Doesn't that seem utterly appropriate and immediately understandable to the dog? That's what you can do with a halter.

 

Dogs seem much less likely to override a halter than a prong. I've seen countless dogs lunging to the end of a lead, even with a prong on, and I've been told (admittedly, hearsay) of injuries that have occurred in this manner. Dogs generally just don't try that with a halter, or at least not nearly as often.

 

For my purposes, a halter is perfect, and a prong nearly useless. I have one fearful dog who can be aggressive if he feels threatened. With a halter, I can absolutely control his head. I have been able to desensitize him to approaches from strangers, and elicit appropriate greeting behaviors, knowing that I can keep everyone involved absolutely safe because I have a line attached to Solo's mouth. With a prong, I would not be able to do this. I also don't need to worry about the presence of strangers being inadvertently associated with the feeling of being painfully zinged around the neck by a bunch of metal teeth, which is the absolute last association I want Solo to make.

 

You wean a dog off a halter the same way you wean a dog off a prong, I'd imagine. If you use it for pulling, you train the dog the behavior of not pulling. The halter is useful because you can prevent the behavior you don't want while you are doing this. Eventually you start fading the halter. It's not very complicated. I do know people who never wean the dog off the halter and use it as a regular walking collar, but I don't really have much of a problem with this if they and the dog are happy with it. I see way more people using a prong as "power steering" and never weaning off of it. Since the only reason a dog doesn't pull on a prong is that it hurts when he does, I have a harder time seeing how you'd wean a dog off a prong than off a halter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Piper,

I'm glad you got to go see Kevin George. :cool:

 

I would be willing to bet that since the instructor for the scent theory class was a Sheriff's Deputy, that might have some influence on his views toward head collars [chuckle]. Some people just don't WANT head collars to be a useful tool, and will manufacture reasons as to why they are not.

 

Now, if he could back up his claim with some actual documented instances of SAR dogs losing their scenting ability from having worn a head collar, then I'd be inclined to take his statement more seriously.

 

Lucy wears a head collar (NOT during SAR training, of course), and her sniffer works beautifully. It's the head strap that is tight; the nose strap should be loose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a little off topic, but Piper, you caught my attention with your statement:

 

Also, I don't know much about scent theory. My husband is the one on the SAR team with Piper, I just call myself the Dog team support person. I go to their drills when I feel like it and support him when an actual search is called.
I am assuming that you have a basic level of SAR training and certification yourself, if you are going out on actual searches. To go on searches without being certified is a potential liability that no team should, IMO, be allowing. I'm sure you are aware of that, though.

 

However, on the scent theory issue, I'd like to point out that it can be such a huge asset for the support personnel to have even just a rudimentary knowledge in this area. SAR work is a team effort, and no dog is infallible, and no dog handler is infallible. A support person is more than just someone "along for the ride". Handlers can really depend upon their support person to make observations and make educated interpretations of those observations.

 

Sometimes they don't have that luxury; a handler might have to take an explorer scout or a ground pounder with absolutely zero knowledge of how the dogs work or what scent theory even is. But, if you have the opportunity to choose a support person with that knowledge, it can make the difference between finding the subject and not.

 

I have served as support on both live and HRD missions, where my opinion made that difference. I don't take credit for the find because it is a team effort, but I do take credit for being part of that team.

 

I have done the debrief instead of the handler, since I handled most of the navigation, note taking, and observed the dog/handler team working together. I can estimate a POD for the dog team based upon my knowledge of how the dogs work and of scent theory.

 

On HRD missions, we often have the support person watch each dog work the area one at a time, taking notes and making observations. As you may know, in HRD, the dog's reactions may be much more subtle and you may not get a full blown alert. Because of this, it often takes being able to observe their behavior combined with knowledge of scent theory to make an educated guess as to whether or not human remains are present. In cases like this, it is the support people who are observing each dog work individually and discussing their observations with the handlers, and then the decision is made by the detective on the case based upon that information as to whether or not an excavation should occur. The support people are an invaluable part of this process, so you can see how important it would be for a support person to have a knowledge of scent theory.

 

There are a lot of "shoulds" in SAR work, and every team does things differently. But, IMO, if you are to be a part of the search effort as a dog team support person on a regular basis, I strongly encourage you to get more experience and education in scent theory, whether your team requires it or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both for your insight on the head harness. As I said I have never used one but I am curious about them. My male BC is soft, but being deaf he uses his sight quite a bit. My agility instructor suggested a head harness so I could keep his attention. I decided to pull him from class and just work him at home. I don't intend to trial him and I just felt it wasn't fair to remove his only available sense of his surroundings.

I agree that prongs have a bad name because many people use them the wrong way. My AB wears one for obedience and protection work. Used and fitted correctly it is a perfect tool. Operative woords are fitted and used properly. Used improperly, or in the hands of a novice (which happens more than I care to admit) it is no better than a choker. I can honestly say that having worked with TONS of protections dogs wearing prong collars I have never seen a properly fitted collar draw blood. The only time I saw that was a bird dog guy using a sharpened prong to teach a forced retrieve.

Melanie, I like your suggestions for the usefulness of the collar. My personal dogs are encouraged in their prey drive so I don't correct any lunging, but the example does help explain how useful the head harness can be. I agree that for dogs like your Solo the harness is a much better idea.

Weaning a dog off the prong is the same way you described the weaning off a head harness. Sadly, people do use it without training. It becomes a method of control instead of a teaching tool. My experience with people using the head harness is that they don't wean the dog off of it. That was my main reason for asking the question.

Again, thanks for taking the time to explain the weaning method.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am assuming that you have a basic level of SAR training and certification yourself, if you are going out on actual searches. To go on searches without being certified is a potential liability that no team should, IMO, be allowing. I'm sure you are aware of that, though.
Oh, no Lucy Goosey, what I mean't is the I go to drills and hide for the dogs and by helping my husband out when searches are called is that I help run around the house at 2 a.m. with him, gathering stuff, filling water bottles, etc, I'm not a member of the team and do not go on searches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, I misunderstood then.

 

When you used the word "support", I thought you meant support as in the person who walks with the dog/handler team, helping with radio communications, navigation, carrying extra gear or having extra skills, and because nobody should go out on a search alone for safety reasons. "Support" is the technical term for the function this person serves. There are a lot of husband/wife handler/support teams, so I didn't think it out of the ordinary.

 

Sorry!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...