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Old 01-23-2013, 04:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Conflicting Advice on Harness/Collars

I started working with a GSD trainer after seeing a certified behaviorist for my male rescue Blitzen. Among a lot of other things, I'm working on training him to walk at my side with a slack lead and not pull excitedly when outdoors. He loves to run and has high energy. On my first visit to the behaviorist, she said lose the leather collar, never ever use a prong collar on a anxious dog like this and use a gentle leader harness. So that's what I've been using on walks. Most walks involve endless commands to heel coupled with repeated changes in direction and stopping until he stops pulling. He's quite good at stopping when I stop, but 5 steps later he's pulling again or circles back around me so he can keep pacing rather than wait for me to catch up. He's got huge drive to run/chase/retrieve.

When I started class at a K9 training facility recently, the GSD trainer (who has trained and competed with GSDs since the 90's) evaluated my dog and our progress and said, "Lose the harness, you have zero control with it. You need a nylon braided slip collar or a prong collar to control this boy while training." I said I did not want to use a prong collar, so she recommended a slip collar, and instructed me on how to use it in training.
I must say that his compliance instantly improved, once he realized what felt good and what didn't. And we seem to be making progress working thru things that previously triggered out of control behavior. But I don't want to make a mistake here and my goal is to be able to walk with a slack lead and a normal collar. Any advice?
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I am not a dog trainer and just try to give advice that has worked for me. I am a 61 yr old arthritic woman and if it were not for the prong collar I would never be able to walk my lab or my gsd. They self correct and do not pull when walking and the results are instantaneous, it is a miracle tool for me.
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Lose the harness. I tried that once and had no control with my dog. When we started training we used a prong and for casual walks. With lots of training, and then moving to more positive reinforcement training (on my own, not with trainer) I was able to remove the prong when she got to be about 2 yrs old.

My daughter still uses the prong when casual walking because she has strength only on her left arm, kind of like someone who's had a stroke, and it gives her excellent control, she is also petite and the dog is 87lbs.

Make sure your new trainer shows you how to place the prong properly on the dog.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Go with what is comfortable for you and the dog. If you are not making progress with the harness then you need to re-evaluate the way you are using the tool and if you are really teaching the dog anything. I find most people don't stop to think about what is actually reinforcing. I also instruct people not to wait until the dog starts pulling to change directions. If while you are training loose leash walking, you change direction or pace BEFORE the dog starts pulling, it encourages them to pay more attention to you. You should only need to issue a command ONCE no matter the tool you are using.

If you don't want to use the prong, don't use it but find a trainer that can actually teach you how to properly reinforce loose leash walking on harness/flat collar.

If you want to use the prong, again, make sure the trainer can show you how to properly correct and reinforce loose leash walking.

The end goal should be the same no matter the tool - a dog that walks nicely and pays attention to you, not the equipment they are wearing.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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the dog needs to be trained to heel properly.....for that a prong is a good tool.....it self corrects and really is not severe! put a prong around your arm wtih a coat on and feel the pressure....it does not cause damage because the dog never chokes on it like any kind of choker/slip....the c/s can cause trachea damage if the dog panics and fights or the handler is too strong with it....


Harnesses are wonderful tools for certain things....I love them for backtying dogs in training and for baby pups - but they are not a good choice at all for teaching a dog to walk properly on a leash....

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Old 01-23-2013, 07:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sigh. A properly fitted front clip harness (not a back) is a fine tool for teaching a dog to walk properly (and yes even a heel). Many trainers across the country use them with dogs of all ages and sizes and get the results they want. A prong is not the only way and should not be used to simply self correct and hope the dog understands, there is active teaching that needs to be done.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I use a sense-ation harness(granted he is not old enough for a prong) but it has been amazing... On a flat collar or martingale he can literally almost drag me across the floor even at barely 5 months old(I am a small person though). The company is really good too and stands behind their product. If you're not comfortable with a prong, I would look into a sense-ation while teaching loose leash walking and a proper heel.

I recommend clipping the lead to the collar AND the harness at the same time for even more control over the dog.

Amazon.com: sense-ation dog harness
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I am starting obedience classes with my non-GSD pup next week. Had orientation last night. We will be using prong collars - every pup, every breed. I am thrilled. I think it is a great tool when used properly. It was a lifesaver for me, when my DA GSD was young.

I really don't understand why some people are so opposed to them. Obviously, every tool doesn't work for every dog, but what is the harm in trying it?
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevenzachsmom View Post
I am starting obedience classes with my non-GSD pup next week. Had orientation last night. We will be using prong collars - every pup, every breed. I am thrilled. I think it is a great tool when used properly. It was a lifesaver for me, when my DA GSD was young.

I really don't understand why some people are so opposed to them. Obviously, every tool doesn't work for every dog, but what is the harm in trying it?
For me, I'm not opposed to them but I'm sure not going to use one on a little puppy. My pup will be six months in late Feb, might try one then but for now the harness I'm using is working perfectly for me.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Also not opposed to them. Have used them and will instruct people on how to properly use them.

I really don't understand why some people are so adamant that it's the only way to handle a GSD or train a dog to heel. What is the harm in not wanting using one?
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