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I just adopted my GSD Yorka from a friend. She's about 4-5 years and is good with most commands, but we're doing some socialization training for dog-on-dog. We live in San Francisco, but she used to live in a rural county and isn't used to all the other dogs being around. She's great with humans.

I got her a Halti yesterday. She's not a huge fan, but she tolerates it. We've gone on two walks with it, and as long as she's preoccupied with something (walking, etc.) she leaves it alone. When she stops to sniff she notices the Halti again and will paw at it or rub her head on things to try to get it off. She seems to be adjusting, though.

This morning we saw another dog and she started tripping out. She ended up behind me trying to wrestle her way out of the Halti, and she succeeded. Luckily the safety strap was attached to her collar so I was able to pull her back. I'm finding that the Halti is hard to work with when she's behind me; I can't guide her head, and it gives her space to slip out of the straps. It doesn't have a clasp under the chin, just a single silver slip ring that tightens when she pulls; but again, it doesn't appear to work right when she manages to get behind me.

Anyone else have issues with your dog slipping out of a Halti or head collar? Is there a safe way to modify the Halti so she can't slip out of the chin straps? Any other tips?

Or, any advice on how to deal with her or with the Halti if she manages to get behind me?
 

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I personally would never put a halti on my dog. It doesn't teach them anything and it just prevents you from being dragged. So many dogs will not tolerate one of these on their faces and will continue to try and scrape it off.
 

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It sounds to me like the Halti simply isn't a very good solution for this particular dog. While many dogs tolerate a Halti just fine, some won't and will continually try to get it off, fight against it, and work to figure out ways to get it off their heads, such as getting behind you. If your dog is busy with that the whole time the Halti is on, you can't really use it to its potential (for training) because the dog is too busy trying to get the device of his/her head.

I would look into using a different device that would give you control and help you work with her, one that she may not object to quite as much. You do have options other than a head halter. A front-clip harness is generally a good choice. So if you want to use a gentle device rather than go to, say, a prong collar, that's what I would try next.

I would also recommend getting into a training class. A lot of facilities have classes for dogs that are uncomfortable or un/under-socialized with other dogs now, so that's what I would look for since they will be able to teach you techniques for distracting and calming her around other dogs, and the controlled environment where all dogs are leashed will help her get used to being around other dogs without freaking out.
 

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I had tried a Halti with my dog and had the same problem. I now use a halter with the frontclip. Works much better. I have the Easy Walk harness and I really like it and so does my dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, everyone!

We're doing some one-on-one sessions with a trainer, the first of which is tomorrow. That's part of why I got the head harness; the trainer asked that we have one. I don't want to become dependent on it to get her to behave, though; I'm planning to treat it as a training aid only. So it's good to hear about others' experiences with front-clip harnesses. That may be what we do as she starts to learn.

If she does well with the trainer, there's a socialization class at our neighborhood pet store that we're going to take.

We inherited a slip collar from her previous owner, but it's just regular chain link and has no prongs. I've been using it but am working on getting away from it. I don't think it has much value at all.

We also have a regular collar.
 

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Personally I DO NOT like any sort of corrective or restrictive device when working with a dog that is undersocialized and reactive. It can be dangerous for the dog. They go into a "flight or fight" panic and it's naive to think a tool can really "help" the dog when they are in that frame of mind. I think walking with a halti is fine but I would separate walks from the socialization/working on the dog issue and for that I would find a good behaviorist and use a flat collar or front clip harness.
 

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I have helped out as an assistant in some obedience classes. The instructor did not have any type of halter/collar requirement, but would make suggestions in what he felt would help. A lot of people came to classes with haltis on the the dogs. Personnally, I absolutely HATED them!! Probably more than the dogs who had to wear them.

For one, as you have found out, dog would easily figure out how to get out of them. It was very unsafe. Second, the dogs where too busy fighting the stupid things to focus on the handlers and actually learn something. Third, it was completely useless as a directional/control aid, if an owner wanted to pull the dog in closer to them, all it did is turn the dog around, and now the dog can wiggle out of the halti as the owner is pulling the thing forward instead of back.

I usually stay out of halti discussions because I know that many people really like them, and they feel that recommending a prong or martingale over a halti is innapropriate, but I stand by my observations and experience.
 

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Please make sure you have the right Halti before you decide you don't like it.

I have seen another owner who had one that was a size too large (the large size, for a medium/large GSD) and you could see it was loose when attached, and the dog did just as you described, constantly tried to get it off. The fact that it has come loose as you describe, sounds again as if it's the wrong size. If it's the right size, and is adjusted so it's snug but not tight, it will not pull off unless the dog has a short snout.

I have used the medium size with my Rott/GSD mix (with a decently large head/face), and it sits firmly against his face when it's on, but it does not restrict him opening his mouth, eating drinking etc. He doesn't try to scrape it off, and the only time he managed to get out of it was when I first got it and hadn't adjusted it to be snug.

It is a useful tool for dog reactive dogs, since you can redirect their gaze with it, without having to body block them.
 

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I have used them with great success with some dogs, and had them not work so well with other dogs. Fit is a huge issue and can be difficult to get the hang of. If your trainer requires them, maybe they can check the fit for you?

I will say that although I like how well they work for the dogs that accept them, I don't see them as a training tool in that the behavior (not pulling on leash) has no carry over to other collar types. The second the Halti or Gentle Leader is off, they resume the pulling. I would consider them a management tool, rather than a training tool.

Have fun with your new dog! Training is such a great way to build a strong bond.
Sheilah
 

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Definitely not a training tool, but management tool as Sheila said. Issue is whether you want to manage problem or try to eliminate problem..:)
 

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I don't understand how it is not a training tool. It gives you more gentle control over a dog's fixation (as opposed to leash pops, which can add excitement), and can make it easier to lead the dog around, both of which are useful in training.

It can even be a training tool to reduce pulling. Assuming the dog doesn't like cranking it's own neck around, or the strap tightening on it's muzzle, it can provide the same discomfort that people use prong collars or choke collars for, and those are both training tools to reduce pulling.
 

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I like them as a training tool. I had great results with my Catahoula who was a bit dog reactive. You have to use it correctly. I hope your trainer can help.

I like them for other specific training situations too.
 

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It is not a training tool. All it does is prevent certain behaviors like dragging you down the street. It will not teach the dog not to pull in the first place.
 

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I see training tools as something that will help my dog learn some behavior that I can then transfer over to other situations (for lack of a better term-my brain isn't working tonight). If a Halti or a Gentle Leader were a training tool, then I would be able to use it to train a certain behavior and then switch "tools" (for instance, switch to a flat buckle collar or any type of slip collar) and get the same behavior (no pulling) using the other tool. I have trained the behavior (no pulling), using the tool (the Halti or Gentle leader) and can now get the same trained behavior using another tool.

But it doesn't work that way with Halti or Gentle Leader type tools. I can put one on a horrible leash puller, and get wonderful results. But those results are gone the moment I put a different collar on because I am only managing the behavior by using a tool that makes it impossible for the dog to pull. I haven't trained the behavior away. If I had trained the behavior, then the dog wouldn't pull regardless of what collar I use.

I am not saying that I don't think they are inappropriate for many/most dogs, because I think they are appropriate for many dogs. I have come across some dogs that just wouldn't stop fighting them, but those have been few and far between. I use them on a regular basis for my older GSD.

But I don't think they should be seen as a tool that can be used to train a behavior and then have the dog weaned off and onto a flat collar, or a slip collar. The not pulling behavior just doesn't transfer to other collars.

I have a decent heel on Tanner. I can get that same heel behavior from him regardless of what type of collar he has on: a flat collar, a prong collar, a slip collar. It doesn't matter because the behavior is trained and it transfers over to all these other collars (or no collar at all when we are training off leash). A Halti or Gentle Leader just does not provide that "training" aspect because the not pulling behavior is specific to the use of the Halti or Gentle Leader. So, for me, it is a management tool rather than a training tool.
Sheilah
 

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I have found that the Halti does not train the dog simply by putting it on. I think this is true with all the tools used in dog training. The Halti can be an effective training tool if training is done with it.
But, that being said, it may come the closest to being useful in and of itself because of the effect it can have on a dog who is rather full of themselves.

I have used it very nicely as a training tool. Sure it can be a crutch, but so can any other collar, leash, device etc. It can be used in lieu of training as can a pinch collar, but this does not mean it can't be very useful in teaching.

I have had very accomplished trainers recommend the Halti as a training tool. I have used one for some aspect of training with my three competition dogs currently.
 

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It could certainly be that I am using it incorrectly! Wouldn't be the first time, that is for sure.

How do you use a Halti or Gentle Leader so that the behavior you are training transfers over to other types of collar equipment? In particular, how do you transfer the no pulling behavior to a flat collar?
Sheilah
 

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What size Halti are you using? If she can get out it may be too big or the strap that goes around the back of the head may be too loose.
I would try not to let her get to the point where she is flipping out like that, if possible.

I actually have found the Halti to be very helpful when working with a reactive dog. The trainer of the reactive dog classes we took recommended head collars for the dogs in the class. The Halti gave me control over her and seems to somehow have a calming effect. It helped me keep her focus so that we could work on training. With the Halti I have been able to make vast improvement in Bianca's leash reactivity towards other dogs.

I also think Bianca had developed negative associations with the pressure of a collar on her neck (even a flat collar) due to her previous owner's training methods and if she was reacting and felt the pressure of a collar it just made things worse. The Halti doesn't put pressure on her neck so we don't have that happen. I did try using a Sense-ation harness before the Halti, and it didn't cause pressure on the neck but it also didn't provide me with much control.

We've been transitioning to a regular collar now that she no longer reacts most of the time.
I did use it to help control her pulling at first, while I worked on teaching her to walk on a loose leash but now that she has learned loose-leash walking and heeling I can generally walk her on a flat collar, and I only use the Halti in certain situations (such as where we will be around a lot of other dogs.)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Think it was a problem of fit.

I think the halti was a size too big; it was definitely a bit loose on her. I switched it for a gentle leader. She has acclimated to it and has stopped trying to scrape it off. We see enough dogs on a daily basis that I feel it's important to have a device to help control her behavior as she's learning.

I really appreciate the discussion about transferring training with a head collar to other types of collars. It's a topic I hadn't asked the trainer about; I'll be sure to make sure that he can give us a plan for getting her off the head collar but keeping the behaviors she's learning.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
P.S. I wrapped the gentle leader in dr. scholl's moleskin, which seems to make a huge difference for her comfort.
 
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