This is a story about Charlie a Golden Labrador rescued from a dog rescue home (but could have been a
So first impressions were very good, now obviously he had been living in a cage for while in the dog rescue so he wasn’t absolutely perfect, we did get one or two undesirable packages the first day or two if you know what I mean, but he soon got out of that and quickly picked up the fact that this was an outside activity.
We live in the country and can literally access farmers fields right out of the garden so walks were pretty laid back, we rarely met anyone on route and there wasn’t too much to get exited about so other than a little bit of pulling on the lead it wasn’t too much of a problem taking Charlie for a walk. Who needs training aids I thought at this early stage this is easy, little did I know what was to come.
Dog training aids, who needs them
The problems only really started as Charlie gradually got used to his new home and grew in confidence as he settled in to his role as family pet. It has to be said, I think he fancied himself as the pack leader, despite our endless hours of watching the dog training programs to get the inside track on dog training.
Initially he just began pulling pretty hard on the leash when we walked him, but this in itself can be pretty wearing and will put a dampener on what should be a pleasant experience both for the dog and for you.
Charlie started to show us that he was clearly anything but trained on a leash, so every smell, bird flying off or rabbit making a break for it resulted in him trying to take off in a direction which was usually the opposite to the one we wanted to go in and generally at about four times the speed we were capable of doing it.
As time went on we also found out that when we did actually meet other dogs on our walk Charlie would get really excited and would start lunging and pulling trying to get to the other dog, he seemed to have a particular issue with small dogs and we really weren’t sure whether he was being aggressive or just wanted to play, unfortunately we really couldn’t take the risk that it was the former.
So there we have it: –
- constant pulling on the leash
- dragging us off into the undergrowth
- taking off in the wrong direction
- and worst of all lunging and barking at other dogs
Any of this sound familiar?
So then what could be done about these problems, enter the life saver a ‘halter dog leash’. This is a leash that goes over the dogs head and has a figure of eight loop, the large loop goes around the dogs neck and a smaller loop goes over his nose and sits around his muzzle.
The one we got came from a Gun Dog supplies outlet and was a really simple, relatively thin black rope which was very soft and flexible.
The point with this type of leash is that it is the dogs head which is now the point where the pulling force materializes rather than his neck and shoulders, which as you might imagine is the perfect location for the dog to pull from, a bit like a husky pulling a ski sled.
Now when he pulled it just turned his head and he couldn’t generate any force at all. Also it was much easier to direct him because with a little gentle pulling of the leash we could point his head in the right direction and a dog will follow his nose.
Same applied to the lunging problem, he simply couldn’t do it because he could not pull effectively on his leash. Now this might sound a bit mean but it really wasn’t because he rapidly learned that to try and pull was not at all comfortable also using this type of leash actually puts you in the driving seat, you are controlling operations, not the dog.
Suddenly life became easy again, he was a changed dog, we were less stressed and I highly recommend this type of leash for anyone experiencing the types of problems described.
One word of warning however, with this type of leash you cannot snap back on it like you might with a normal leash because you could actually hurt your dog, this leash is used as a gentle restraint because that is all that is required.
Different types of training collars for dogs
The halter leash that was used for Charlie actually came from a gundog supplies company in the UK called Harvey Daniels and is listed under ‘Gundog Halters’. But there are a number of training collars available through Amazon that work on exactly the same principle.
Two of the most popular are the ‘Halti head collar’ and the ‘Gentle leader head collar’ which I have listed here for convenience. They both come in lots of different sizes unlike the Gundog halter used for Charlie which was one size fits all, it has a slip lead action that allows the lead to snug around the dogs neck and muzzle with a small friction washer or similar that slips in behind the loop to stop it going slack again.
That said there was a slight problem with this type of leash in that it does tend to tighten if the dog still pulls and can choke the dog a little. The Halti or the Gentle leader does not do that, so if you like the look of these leashes then just make sure that you choose the right size for your dog and you will be fine.
You will find lots of different opinions about these leashes, most give amazing results and I have to say that it was my experience, Charlie went from being a real pain to take for a walk to a real pleasure and this was literally in minutes. He did try and pull the nose loop off
In truth, there were odd occasions when he might spot a rabbit or deer, which would still make him decide to try and take off despite the training (he is a gun dog after all), and it was for this reason that in the end we switched to a Gentle Leader to retain the control we had using a head collar but without any choking involved
So as far as general care for dogs goes, finding the right lead to correct behaviour problems is not as black magic as you might think, there is some science behind it.