Sunday, April 01, 2007

Head Halter For Lunging Dog?

"Q: my dog barks and lunges at other dogs when we are on walks, and I have a hard time controlling him because he is a 90-pound lab. How can I stop him from doing this?

A: There is a type of collar for a dog that resembles the halter a horse wears. It has separate parts that go around the neck like a conventional collar and another loop that encircles the muzzle...

However, don't just "control" the dog's behavior with the head halter. Make use of the opportunity. With the undesired behavior interrupted, train your dog to replace the undesired behavior with a desirable one. A good substitute behavior for lunging and barking on walks is to train the dog to look at you instead.

Based on years of experience working with dogs like this... I DISAGREE with this approach!

This dog could still attack another dog. This type of dog still doesn't like other dogs, and you are not getting the dog over its reaction towards other dogs. This is a misapplication of Operant Conditioning, and shows why you need more than a bit of behavioral knowledge before you start dealing with dangerous dogs.

This is why I recommend that you go to a veterinarian for MEDICAL advice, and a Dog Trainer for BEHAVIORAL advice. There are better ways to control dogs that aren't good with other dogs. I have a Problem Dog Class for this type of situation, and we don't use head halters... we fix the problem instead. Just yesterday, in this class, we had dogs running together that a couple of months ago would have attacked and hurt another dog. I have fixed this kind of thing over and over again. No one can fix all dogs, but you can fix most dogs. (And no, you don't need to "
get the help of a veterinary behavior specialist for an accurate diagnosis and behavior modification plan". See my thoughts on choosing a trainer / behaviorist)

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