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The not-so-gentle leader caused a welt

14132 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Liesje
I picked up a gentle leader last Friday and used it with horrible results on Saturday and Sunday. It did not convince her to not pull, and her dog aggression became amplified where she behaved like a fish out of water on a fishing line whenever we passed a dog.

I noticed a small dot of redness on her muzzle (about the size of a pinky thumbnail) on Sunday and decided enough was enough and stopped using it.

By Monday the area of redness grew to a small lump. By Tuesday you could see a small line of hair disturbance where the nose loop would rest. Today? There's a very distinct lump banding across the top of her muzzle. The area is annoying her as I catch her rubbing her face with her paws, and she is rubbing her face across my legs and other things much more frequently (as in, I never saw her do that before).

I'm quite worried with how this is developing. Is it normal for welts to grow over time like this? Is this take-a-trip-to-the-vet-worthy or just a typical injury that will heal over? Can I do something to help out? Ice packs? Warm packs? Ointments?
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Ouch! Aloe vera juice will work. If you can find a calendula ointment that will soothe and help it heal quickly.
i don't think the GL is going to work entirely by itself if you have dog aggression issues. if she is flipping out with the GL on passing other dogs, this tells me she needs more time and space and focus training before passing other dogs on walks. i know we are getting into a subject that probably should be posted in behavior section.
also, its important that the GL be fitting properly.

First-- it takes DAYS to slowwwwwly and g-e-n-t-l-y acclimate a dog to a Halti or GL. You can still use the GL, but, introduce it slowwwly. On for 1 minute while she licks yogurt or honey from your fingers, then off. On for 3 seconds later in the day for more yogurt or honey licking. Next day, same thing, and at dinner, GL on during mealtime, (you add a totally yummy blob of yogurt to her meal.. cool surprise, Mom!) then off. Next day, on for 5 mins for mealtime in morning, and at dinner. Supervise her. Slip the GL on her another time, and go for a walk in the yard-- but clip the lead to the collar, not the GL. Gradually, use the GL for 5 mins in the yard while heeling. No distractions, nothing to pull towards.

Next, you will need to practice the "Watch!" command in your nice, calm, boring, non-distraction livingroom. Remember, the Watch command has a beginning "Watch!" a middle, (when she is looking at you and hearing a soothing, calming "goooood girrrrl" and and end: "Okay!" (her release command from that command.. can be 'free' or whatever you use). Next, the same excersises done in your backyard. Then at a place in your neighborhood, where there will be some activity, but not another dog present.

Now it is finally time to get that Watch command around other dogs, but only when they are WAY outside her flip-out zone. If she can remain semi-calm when a dog is on the far distant horizon, for example, well.. then start there! Say "Sweetie, WATCH!" "goooood girrrrrl............. Okay!" and click and give her her treat.

Next, put the girl to work! LOL yup... how can she remember to freak out about another dog when, gosh-- she had better watch you, because you need her to hurry and HEEL! Whee, a click and a treat for that heel.. then, a sit! A click and treat for that sit! A down? Wow.. that was sudden-- she had sure better watch you, because she never knows when you might ask her for a new.. whoops!! There's a heel again.. but you are doing a zippy figure 8! Then a zig to the left and a zag to the right.. darn, she'd BETTER watch you, or else how does she get to participate in this dancing-for-treats thing? Too cool!

Then, in time, you get a little closet to other dogs, and begin Watch! Sit! Come! Heel! (figure 8 with her, do a left circle so she hasta watch out cos you are coming fast into HER space, etc.. whoa.. treats! dancing with mom! cooool!)

The GL is great for stopping the leash reactivity. What happened to you was pushing her too fast with using the GL and pushing her too fast with proximity with other dogs. You can do this! I have had HUUUGE improvements using this method!

Best part is the day she will see another dog, and automaticly give you focus: "Where's my cookie, Ma??" Then you treat her like crazy... jackpot for an Autowatch! I love Feisty Fido stuff!
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The GL worked great for us at first. I mean, totally different dog when he had it on. Now Chevy has started pulling while wearing it and when a car drives by, if I don't have him in a sit position, jumps around like a fish out of water. I do not like the fact that even though it's not tight, it still leaves a mark on his muzzle.
I've seen the GL/Halti being so often misused, even by prof.trainers like Jean Donaldson. I watched several videos w. her using a halti on a dog aggressive or otherwise reactive dog, and I literally cringed down in my chair, imagining the damage she's doing on the dogs neck & spine, while the dog is being jerked around.

I also don't know how the video introduces/ instructs the use of the GL, but I only use a GL/Halti to GUIDE the dog, not as sole & only training tool. Given that, I ALWAYS have a regular leash attached to a harness or collar, while I guide & lure the dog with the halti & treats I have used the GL (after getting them accustomed to the GL indoors for about a week first) with several dogs and never had any bumps or scars.

I would also apply Calendula cream to the spot and hope the dog will recover fully.
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The gentle leader is horrible would never recommend it.
Get yourself a trainer they will be able to help with these issues.
I bout the GL for my Lab and let me tell after months of using it it did nothing. 1 training session with my trainer totally different dog.
The gentle leader is like any other training tool. In order to get the best results possible it must be introduced and used properly.

And every training tool does not work with all dogs.

I had great results with using the gentle leader on one of my dogs.

But could not use it with the others.
I used it on my GSD when he was approx. 4-5 months old to stop the pulling on our way back home on walks. He hated it but tolerated it. However, it also left some marks on his muzzle for days after the use. I felt horrible. I stopped using it after a few times.

The good news is that he stopped pulling even after I stopped the GL. Maybe he learned?

I wouldn't recommend it either.
Thanks for the replies. I think specifics about using the gentle leader should be directed to the gentle leader thread in the training tools forum. I have actually posted details about my experience there, and the solution I'm working on now.

I'm really concerned about the welt and how I should work to heal it. I'm also concerned if it's normal that the welt is growing over time.

I'll try the aloe vera juice and calendula ointment that BowWowMeow suggested. I'll try to find it when I stop off at the store today.
Just wanted to add you'll have the best luck finding those things at a health food store or pharmacy with a good holistic section.
Originally Posted By: debbiebi don't think the GL is going to work entirely by itself if you have dog aggression issues. if she is flipping out with the GL on passing other dogs, this tells me she needs more time and space and focus training before passing other dogs on walks. i know we are getting into a subject that probably should be posted in behavior section.
also, its important that the GL be fitting properly.

I agree with this, and Patti's post about it taking a while to acclimate the dog, before even going out on a walk.

The GL is just a tool. *It* won't train the dog, you will.

I personally do not use GLs b/c I don't like the idea of very large dogs, especially ones that are already pullers or leash reactive, being controlled by their heads. I prefer the Easy Walk harness. However, again, these are just tools and will not be an instant fix for pulling, reactivity, or aggression. You will need to shape the dog's reaction, regardless of what tool is used.
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