Saturday, September 18, 2010

Progress with the head collar!

Vienna in a sit smiling as she wears her head collar.

I have been working with Vienna for a few weeks to get her acclimated to the head collar. We started off with the head collar protocol and did that for about a week. I worked her up to where I could buckle the head collar, but the collar was still loose. Vienna wore the head collar around the house just getting use to the feel of it. The next week, I continued with the protocol, but this time I actually fitted the head collar. She did well with that as she wore it around the house and played with it on. I tried to make sure she was doing “fun” things when she had it on. After several days of doing that, I started walking her with the head collar on, (but the leash was not attached). Well, that is were we ran into problems. She acted out in the typical way dogs do when they don’t care for the head collar. She pawed at it like crazy and basically just refused to walk at all. I worked with her over the next week, and she became much more accepting of it. A few days ago, I attached the leash to the head collar and started talking her on short walks. We had a really positive first walk, and Vienna didn’t fuss about it at all. I have been walking her with it on over the last few days, and she has completely accepted it. No pawing at her nose, no trying to rub it off on my legs, no refusing to walk, nothing. So it appears as if we have finally conquered the head collar. That was quite a process, but it goes to show you that if you go slow, and take it a step at a time and don’t try to rush the puppy, they do adjust to it.

Vienna walking beautifully with her head collar on.

I personally do not like using head collars because I like a dog who does not need some sort of apparatus to behave nicely on leash. I think of the head collar as a band aid and it doesn’t address and fix the issues. People also become dependant on head collars and that is not good. It is important that raisers work their puppies with a head collar as well as without so the dog and the raiser do not become dependant on it. Vienna by no means “needs” a head collar, but Guide Dogs asks that raisers get puppies in training accustom to wearing one. Many graduates use head collars, so the puppies need to be accustom to wearing one just in case their handler chooses to use one.

Vienna walking nicely with her head collar.

I was very happy with Vienna’s walk today because she acted as if she had never had an issue with the head collar. I am really proud of her progress, she did great!

On our walk I had an opportunity to work with Vienna on some different surfaces. One of the surfaces was a metal manhole cover. She walked right over it without any issues. Yay! This was so nice since my last pup had so many surface issues. We ended up working her through them, but it was sure a lot of work! Vienna has been such a nice puppy to raise so far. Let’s hope she keeps it up!

Vienna as she stands on the metal manhole cover.

Vienna as she walks nicely over the manhole cover.  Good girl!


  1. I absolutely love head collars, though I do try to do a little off head collar work with the puppies everday. Freya actually dislocated my shoulder, so she was in a head collar at 4 months (yes, she dislocated it at four months) all the time just to get her used to walking beside me. Then as she was older and more mature I took more walks without the Halti on, but it was always in my bait bag. She's in a chain collar with her partner now. :)

    Rocco only needed it because he would leap towards people and it looks a lot less like you're abusing the dog if you pull him out of mid air using the head collar instead of with the flat collar. :) That and if did get distracted by something he would pull me down the street. It was a great way to remind him that he had to stay with me.

    But I do agree that all raisers should work their dogs out of head collar so you can see the progess it's helping you make or not make.

  2. That's awesome that you're doing so much work with that to get her used to it. Jayden will walk fine in his head collar but the second we stop, he's rubbing it on my leg. I only have to use it in pet stores, where the distractions are just above and beyond what a dog likes to handle lol. It's imperative for my safety in there that he work properly, and the head collar allows that. I always have it with me, but rarely use it unless we're going to a pet store.

  3. Thanks, Ro! I heard that most graduates only use the head collar when the dog is in a place where they are really distracted or sniffing a lot. Otherwise, they don't use it everyday on a regular basis. But I am sure there is the occasional graduate who does use it all of the time. Like I said, I expect my puppy to be able to handle any situation without the head collar. That takes a lot of time, training and patience and I know not everyone can do this. It is just my preference because that is what I would want if I used a guide dog.

  4. Oh definitely. So most of the puppies wear it all the time?? Yikes. I'm glad Jayden doesn't need it all the time. I hate that thing lol!

  5. Yes, unfortunatley many raisers do use the head collar all of the time. I have many concerns about that, but then again, that's just me. I have observed over the years that when a raiser is having an issue with a puppy, the first thing they are told is to use a head collar. Like that magically fixes everything :) That would be nice if it did, but it doesn't. That is what I mean by creating a dependancy on them. I like to get right in there and fix the reason the dog needed a head collar in the first place! Again, it is just my preferred way of doing things :)

  6. Yeah, I have to agree with you. I guess maybe the puppies grow out of needing it since we don't have to use it all the time, but I just wonder if those handlers that do have to use it all the time, have dogs who never learned how to handle life without it. Yikes.

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