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Gentle Leader Or Harness?


Guest Duke
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So Duke has had some leash aggression/reactivity, not sure of the correct catch phrase. I recently bought and have tried a nylon harness but I am not crazy about it nor is he. Thinking of a gentle leader instead. Any thoughts, opinions, experiences?

 

 

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I used a Halti on a previous non-grey and it really helped with her pulling. Not sure if this is the correct product for leash aggression (growling? lunging?) -- these head halter products are aimed at dogs who pull. If you are putting a head collar on a slippery greyhound (do they even fit?), be sure to also attach the head collar to their martingale -- so that if the head collar slips off, you still have a grip on your dog. A harness would certainly give you a better grip on a twirling, freaking hound... is that the problem? A lot of people say that harnesses promote pulling, however, I haven't found that to be the case with my martingale-style Wiggles Wags & Whiskers "Classic" harness.

PS The WWW harness is NOT the one in my signature, that's a PetSmart harness.

Edited by OwnedBySummer

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Lisa B.

My beautiful Summer - to her forever home May 1, 2010 Summer

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I don't really think either can fix leash reactivity but they can help you maintain some control while you work on training for the reactivity.

 

I like the head collar and have used it on a few dogs over the years mostly to help them concentrate. Yes, definitely hook it with the martingale. We had one incident where the gentle leader wasn't properly closed up and the dog popped out of it. The head collar is a great way to direct the dog's focus since it is around the face and you can move the head with it. Whereas, the harness just holds the body and I find any sort of redirection with the harness is more difficult.

 

Once the dog has worked out whatever walking issue they had I move to the martingale. I really think of the head collar as a tool while you are working on training.

Colleen with Covey (Admirals Cove) and Rally (greyhound puppy)
Missing my beloved boy INU (CJ Whistlindixie) my sweetest princess SALEM (CJ Little Dixie) and my baby girl ZOE (LR's Tara)

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Guest carmasims

we use a gentle leader on our previous stray greyhound/lab cross who pulls like CRAZY if she's in a collar or any time of harness, but who walks more like a lady with the GL. :lol she still freaks out if she sees a cat, a squirrel or a small fluffy dog, but i can control her sooooooo much easier with it vs anything else we've tried. and, we've tried everything. :blush

 

our greyhound chevelle who can get a bit nervous with new/loud sounds walks really well with the previously mentioned WWW no pull harness, but he's never shown reactivity or aggressiveness to anything, so controlling him with it isn't an issue.

 

we <3 the gentle leader with serry-- if it's a proper fit, it shouldn't slip, but maybe having a plan b wouldn't hurt. :)

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The cardinal rule in working with a dog with leash reactivity is not to put him in a situation where he feels he needs to react. So, if you find you need the gentle leader to control your dog often on your walks, I would suggest rethinking how you walk your dog. Can you walk at another time of day when there are less dogs out? Walk a different route? Change direction when you see another dog? These are the things you need to be doing, along with doing the actual training to desensitize your pup if you want to be successful at changing the behavior, not just controlling it. I will add that a gentle leader could exacerbate the issue - some dogs really don't enjoy being walked with them so you're adding another negative to a situation that is already unpleasant for your dog.

 

Emma Parsons Click to Calm is an excellent resource for how to work through dog reactivity.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest mbfilby

The cardinal rule in working with a dog with leash reactivity is not to put him in a situation where he feels he needs to react. So, if you find you need the gentle leader to control your dog often on your walks, I would suggest rethinking how you walk your dog. Can you walk at another time of day when there are less dogs out? Walk a different route? Change direction when you see another dog? These are the things you need to be doing, along with doing the actual training to desensitize your pup if you want to be successful at changing the behavior, not just controlling it. I will add that a gentle leader could exacerbate the issue - some dogs really don't enjoy being walked with them so you're adding another negative to a situation that is already unpleasant for your dog.

 

Emma Parsons Click to Calm is an excellent resource for how to work through dog reactivity.

 

yup.. I'm not a fan of GL's or of harnesses. Guess what they put on sled dogs and GPMDs to pull with? A harness simply allows your pup to pull you around more comfortably, and GLs IMO present the risk of neck injuries.

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Neither.

 

My boy Dazzle was a puller in his younger days. Here's the trick I used.

 

Put on a normal martingale collar + leash combo. Hold the leash about a foot and a half away from the clip. Wrap the excess in front of the dog and back around to your hand. This lets the excess drape in front of their legs so that when you pull back, not only do you have more leverage, but the dog has less range of motion of his front legs as well.

 

Cheap, fast, easy, and no risk of damage to you or the dog.

 

leash01.jpg

 

Ta da! You can now walk your puller with one hand.

| Rachel | Dewty, Trigger, and Charlotte | Missing Dazzle, Echo, and Julio |

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I am not a fan of harnesses for anything other than greater security with a spook. I HAVE a Wiggles, Wags, and Whiskers harness, and it's terrific. I bought it when George slipped his martingale (don't ask me how, 'cause I keep them rather snug!) when a carnival ride scared him--and he nearly got into a very busy road. I assumed the carnival would be back each year, so I wanted to be prepared (it was set up directly across the street from my condo--there was no way to avoid it).

 

The carnival didn't come back...

 

Anyway, what I find is that George, who doesn't like dogs of other breeds (likes to lure other dogs into a false sense of security then lunge at them), needs to have biting parts contained, not so much his body! The harness leaves the entire neck and face free to roam, so to speak!


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Guest iconsmum

The cardinal rule in working with a dog with leash reactivity is not to put him in a situation where he feels he needs to react. So, if you find you need the gentle leader to control your dog often on your walks, I would suggest rethinking how you walk your dog. Can you walk at another time of day when there are less dogs out? Walk a different route? Change direction when you see another dog? These are the things you need to be doing, along with doing the actual training to desensitize your pup if you want to be successful at changing the behavior, not just controlling it. I will add that a gentle leader could exacerbate the issue - some dogs really don't enjoy being walked with them so you're adding another negative to a situation that is already unpleasant for your dog.

 

Emma Parsons Click to Calm is an excellent resource for how to work through dog reactivity.

 

 

 

 

 

Totally totally agree - fantastic advice well said!!

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have you considered looking for an obedience classes where you can work w/ him in classes with other dogs and have some direction from a trainer? some trainers are wonderful, some stink, it's a matter of luck. i would contact some trainers/schools(don't use petco or a chain store) and talk to the directors of the schools. something may click and you just might feel comfortable working w/ one of them.

 

i do believe there are listings thru the AKC and apdt...american pet dog training assoc. or something like that. a google search will take you in the right direction. collars and harnesses are tools, one needs skills to use the tools properly. i have desensitized a dog who was attacked by my neighbor's dog. he became super agressive and sending him back to school at age 9 worked like a charm. i had a good trainer leading the class and she knew what he needed.

 

good luck!

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Duke doesn’t have an issue pulling; for the most part he walks quite nicely. If we are heading into a new territory, he picks up a scent or is just anxious to get to the park he does pull but not in an out of control way. Since the warm weather has gone, there is another side to him. The park near me allows leashed dogs and he was always good until recently, now he starts to growl and lunge, the last time his mouth met my knee.

 

I have stopped going to the park, have read up on the training, carry treats in my pocket and am on the lookout for other dogs. Yesterday I spotted one down the road, he did too and began to "react" but I crossed the road, got his attention elsewhere and did a detour around the other dog. On the same walk he will pass other dogs off leash in their yards and have no reaction at all. I know it is all about the training, so I guess my question is to which of the two is best to prevent me from getting bit in the moment.

 

Also in using the harness I have his martingale on as well. The other day with the harness on he started to buck, growl (react) and he started to yelp due to the harness and bite at the leash.

 

I know you are all so knowledgeable, non judgmental and helpful and that is why I started the post.

 

 

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Guest Swifthounds

I think a gentle leader or a halti are fine for "traffic" type situations where a dog might be a bit growly in that environment (like Dewey, which always has lot of people and greyhounds, too many of which don't read hound body language well enough to know when their manners should kick in). Neither are a solution to leash reactivity or other dog aggressiveness, nor is a harness. Most leash reactive greyhounds are reactive because they lack confidence and security. None of those items affect that positively at all.

 

Harnesses especially give the dog more pulling ability and give you no finite control. Really, they're just an ill advised item all around, except for tiny dogs and dogs with neck injuries. They do bring in a lot of $$$ though.

 

I am not a fan of harnesses for anything other than greater security with a spook. I HAVE a Wiggles, Wags, and Whiskers harness, and it's terrific. I bought it when George slipped his martingale (don't ask me how, 'cause I keep them rather snug!) when a carnival ride scared him--and he nearly got into a very busy road. I assumed the carnival would be back each year, so I wanted to be prepared (it was set up directly across the street from my condo--there was no way to avoid it).

 

One thing to think about where you have a hound slipping out of a collar that's snugly fit is, do you leave it on the hound all the time? We don't really think about it, but when they wear collars constantly, the beneficial oils on their skin build up on the collar over time, making it easier for the slick collar to glide along the slick fur of the neck.

 

I always chuckle a bit about the idea that a harness offers more security than a collar. They've obviously not met a fast, smart, agile hound. Cupid can get out of any harness in a matter of seconds. What has worked for her is the attached leash/collar combination.

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Guest Wasserbuffel

I would say the Gentle Leader would be better for your situation. Leash up and walk using the martingale like usual. Just keep the Gentle Leader on a second leash that you hold loose. If you get into a situation where your dog might react, simply take up the slack on the GL leash and then if he starts pulling, you have full control of the bitey end.

 

My girl sometimes forgets her leash manners when we're in busy settings or walking with a friend's dog. She also gets a little snotty when in groups of dogs as she prefers to sniff first before she'll allow another dog to sniff her rear. She's getting better the more I expose her to groups, but until I'm sure she's comfortable and not going to be snappy, I keep her GL on and her head on a very short leash.

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Duke doesn’t have an issue pulling; for the most part he walks quite nicely. If we are heading into a new territory, he picks up a scent or is just anxious to get to the park he does pull but not in an out of control way. Since the warm weather has gone, there is another side to him. The park near me allows leashed dogs and he was always good until recently, now he starts to growl and lunge, the last time his mouth met my knee.

 

I have stopped going to the park, have read up on the training, carry treats in my pocket and am on the lookout for other dogs. Yesterday I spotted one down the road, he did too and began to "react" but I crossed the road, got his attention elsewhere and did a detour around the other dog. On the same walk he will pass other dogs off leash in their yards and have no reaction at all. I know it is all about the training, so I guess my question is to which of the two is best to prevent me from getting bit in the moment.

 

Also in using the harness I have his martingale on as well. The other day with the harness on he started to buck, growl (react) and he started to yelp due to the harness and bite at the leash.

 

I know you are all so knowledgeable, non judgmental and helpful and that is why I started the post.

Good for you for being on top of the training. Sounds like you are already on the right track. If you're only issue is your own safety, muzzling him is your best option. It does make getting the treats to him a bit more awkward, but it's doable. What I do is sort of grab the muzzle with a couple of fingers to hold it steady (and by doing so, holding the dog's head steady) and then I slip the treat through one of the bigger holes, which should be by the dog's mouth anyway. You might want to practice inside first. You can also put moleskin over the bridge of the muzzle where it hits his nose so it won't bother him since he may be wearing it more often.

 

Are you also exposing him to dogs in a controlled setting? That's the other part of this type of training. The easiest way to do it is to go to a pet store at a time when it gets a lot of foot traffic but park away from the entrance. Bring a camping chair if you want and then just sit yourself down. You need to do it at a distance that is far enough away that Duke won't react at the sight of the dog, which is far enough right now that you can pretty much be certain no dogs will be coming your way (as the owners will be parking closer and just taking their pups in and out of the store). Then, every time a dog appears you just start feeding Duke and you keep on feeding until the dog is out of sight. Then you sit and wait for the next dog and repeat. This is a bit different from redirecting him or using a look or sit command to get his attention when dogs are passing on walks. This is simply creating an association: dog=food a la Pavlov. The idea being, once he's made that association, instead of reacting when he sees a dog, he will instead look at you automatically for his treat. And when this happens the first time, you will be ridiculously ecstatic and give him a large handful of treats while leaping around in the air and squealing with joy about what a good boy he is. ;) It will probably take at least several sessions at the pet store before this happens "on its own". Just remember to make sure you are far enough away when you are doing the pet store training that Duke is relaxed. As you continue to do them, you will be able to gradually decrease the distance he is comfortable with.

 

Last thing I'll add, if his behavior seems to be getting worse or he's actually biting, I would strongly recommend you seek out a positive reinforcement trainer to work with him. There are some that actually teach reactive dog classes, but I don't know of any offhand in your area - I only know of ones here and in the Boston area. But even if you can't find one of those, a private trainer should be able to help you. I wouldn't suggest a group obedience class at this point unless he can calmly be in sight of dogs who are about 20 ft away without reacting.

Edited by NeylasMom

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest Swifthounds

Duke doesn’t have an issue pulling; for the most part he walks quite nicely. If we are heading into a new territory, he picks up a scent or is just anxious to get to the park he does pull but not in an out of control way. Since the warm weather has gone, there is another side to him. The park near me allows leashed dogs and he was always good until recently, now he starts to growl and lunge, the last time his mouth met my knee.

 

I have stopped going to the park, have read up on the training, carry treats in my pocket and am on the lookout for other dogs. Yesterday I spotted one down the road, he did too and began to "react" but I crossed the road, got his attention elsewhere and did a detour around the other dog. On the same walk he will pass other dogs off leash in their yards and have no reaction at all. I know it is all about the training, so I guess my question is to which of the two is best to prevent me from getting bit in the moment.

 

Also in using the harness I have his martingale on as well. The other day with the harness on he started to buck, growl (react) and he started to yelp due to the harness and bite at the leash.

 

I know you are all so knowledgeable, non judgmental and helpful and that is why I started the post.

Good for you for being on top of the training. Sounds like you are already on the right track. If you're only issue is your own safety, muzzling him is your best option. It does make getting the treats to him a bit more awkward, but it's doable. What I do is sort of grab the muzzle with a couple of fingers to hold it steady (and by doing so, holding the dog's head steady) and then I slip the treat through one of the bigger holes, which should be by the dog's mouth anyway. You might want to practice inside first. You can also put moleskin over the bridge of the muzzle where it hits his nose so it won't bother him since he may be wearing it more often.

 

I understand muzzles may be helpful at times to prevent injury while you're workign through this. That said, this kind of behavior in a greyhound is almost always rooted in insecurity and a lack of confidence. Just be mindful that if he's muzzled in public, he will feel even more vulnerable.

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I am taking him on different routes now and today I turned around to see a Shepard behind us some distance, he saw it too but no reaction! Not sure if the park became the trigger, not sure why as I have been bringing him there since I got him. No incident has ever occurred there so maybe it became a learned behavior? He has been exposed to many other dogs in various settings. A few weeks ago at the "official" dog park he was off leash with at least 20 dogs, and he was a perfect little boy so go figure. He also has been at my friends house with her Lab and Pit Bull mix, spent the weekend with her- no problem

 

 

I think for now I am going to use my instincts, combo harness and martingale, not sure I want to muzzle him. If the behavior worsens, yes a behaviorist is on my list of actions.

 

 

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Guest Stripeyfan

We recently bought a harness for Kelly from here (not because he's leash reactive but because he's more comfortable in it than in a collar). It's completely padded with soft fleece so it doesn't pinch or rub, washable and although they're a UK company they'll ship worldwide. I can highly reccomend them! Hope you can find a solution to your problem soon.

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