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Category: “Pet Care Tips”

Head Collars

Is that a muzzle? Does that dog bite?!!

Many of our dogs wear a head collar called a Promise collar or a Halti. Often people ask us if dogs wearing these collars bite or if the collar is a muzzle. Head collars are not muzzles at all. They are designed to aid in training and controlling dogs. Dogs are free to open their mouths, pant, get a drink, and yes, they could bite if they were so inclined.

How do head collars work?

Head collars loop around the dog’s snout and the leash is attached to the collar underneath the dog’s jaw. When the dog pulls on the leash, the dog’s head is pulled downward which stops the dog from pulling. Additionally, when walking a dog you can easily control the direction of your dog’s movement. A little tension on the leash moves the dog’s head which easily and effectively changes the dog’s direction.

What are the benefits of using a head collar?

Head collars are more humane. They do not pull on the dog’s throat, as do other training collars. Nor do they work by causing pain to the dog. The dog will not damage his throat or choke himself when he pulls.
Head collars allow people to have better control of their dogs. When wearing a different type of collar, strong dogs are able to yank the leash, sometimes pulling away from or dragging their owners, simply because they are stronger than their owners or they outweigh them. With a head collar, the dog is unable to pull away because he is pulling against his own strength.
Head collars are self-correcting. When the dog pulls on the leash, the dog’s head is immediately pulled downward. You do not need to yank (or “pop”) the leash to correct your dog. The immediacy of the correction from a head collar helps the dog learn more quickly.
How long does it take after your dog pulls on his leash before you correct him? Head collars correct immediately.
How many times does your dog pull and you do not correct him? Head collars correct the dog every time he pulls.
Head collars offer you peace of mind and more peaceful walks. You have better control of your dog so you can relax and enjoy taking Rover for a walk.

What types of dogs would benefit from using a head collar?

  • Large dogs.
  • Strong dogs.
  • Dogs that are highly excitable, that jump about and pull while on leash.
  • Dogs whose owners have difficulty holding and controlling them on leash.
  • Dogs that pull when on leash.

What types of dogs are not appropriate for a head collar?

Most dogs do benefit from head collars. The following are examples of dogs for whom the head collar might be unnecessary or not beneficial.

  • Dogs that are exceptionally well trained do not need head collars.
  • Dogs that walk slowly and do not pull might not benefit from a head collar.
  • Dogs that are small and are easily handled due to their small size. Note that a head collar might benefit them in terms of walking more calmly with less pulling, but due to their small size their pulling and yanking on the leash does not cause a problem in terms of controlling the dog while on leash, regardless of what collar they wear.

Where can I get a head collar?

Head collars are relatively new and are not carried in all pet stores. Locally in Greensboro you can purchase head collars at All Pets Considered (ask for a Promise collar) or at PetsMart (ask for a Halti). Other pet stores in Greensboro may carry them as well. Haltis are the more common brand of head collars sold in stores, but the Promise collar is available in a variety of collars. Be sure to bring your dog with you so that you can get the right fit.

Disclaimer: Animal Rescue & Foster Program does not benefit from the sale of these collars. Although we do feel that head collars are an extremely helpful training device, we do not offer any type of warranty regarding the use of a head collar. We recommend that you consult a dog trainer who is knowledgeable in the use of head collars for more specific information regarding training with head collars or any other type of collar.

Play Biting

One of the biggest complaints we hear about puppies is about their play biting. Puppies begin to learn bite inhibition from their litter mates and mother when they are young, and it becomes our job to continue this education. At the same time play biting seems to be self-reinforcing to the puppy; it just plain feels good to chew on us, especially during the teething stages. Unfortunately, we sometimes unintentionally reinforce the problem by letting little puppies nibble on our hands (when it doesn’t hurt at all), and by letting them pull on our pants legs and bite our shoe laces ( when they are too small to do any damage).

Puppies must learn that biting is never acceptable, even in play. Traditional force methods such as clamping down and holding the muzzle shut or jabbing your finger in the puppy’s mouth, are not effective in 90% of dogs and can be very dangerous. These methods can make your dog afraid of you as well as turn him into an aggressive biter.

As with most behavioral problems, mouthing and play biting usually stop once the puppy learns more acceptable ways of getting attention. If you teach your puppy to Sit and to Sit for Attention, then you can tell the puppy to Sit whenever he starts to present an unacceptable behavior. By distracting the puppy away from negative behavior and having him respond with a positive replacement behavior, the negative behavior will often go away with out stern physical corrections which, if used, could lead to more serious aggression.

The games you play with your puppy and how you play them are very important. Rough play such as pushing side-to-side or back and forth at the shoulders, tug-of-war, or chase games result in an adrenaline rush which encourages play biting and mouthiness — behaviors which could continue for the rest of the puppy’s life. Until your puppy understands the command “Enough” and instantly stops whatever he is doing, you should not rough house with your puppy. Aggressive play lessens bite inhibition and is actually a “game” used to teach protection dogs for “bite” work.

What should you do about play biting? First, teach Sit. When your puppy starts mouthing, withdraw your hands, tell him to Sit, praise calmly and offer an acceptable chew toy. Never let children put their hands in or around the puppy’s mouth. Do not ever let the puppy use you or any family member as a chew toy, but do not make a big fuss out of play biting, either! If you give play biting too much attention, you are still reinforcing this unacceptable behavior.

If your puppy is wound up and totally out of control, help calm him down and start to learn self control. Say “Enough” in a calm , but firm voice. Take him out side to run off excess energy, try a toy of play fetch. Whatever you do, suspend the play that was resulting in play biting. At times, some puppies can get so wound up and overstimulated that a quiet time-out for a nap in a crate will help. Since some puppies can only handle very limited playtime with young children before biting gets out of control, it is especially important to supervise these interactions. The puppy must not be allowed to practice this unacceptable behavior, and must learn respect for the children as well as adults.

If your timing is right , a loud and dramatic “Ouch” or a moderate scream of pain the instant the puppy bites can be very effective. You really have to mean it (which usually is not hard since play biting can hurt). Then, stand back and fold your arms and give the puppy a disapproving look, and then turn your back and walk away, as if to say, “I won’t play this game.” Ignore the puppy for a minute or two and then call him to you, have him Sit, and offer praise and reward in the form of a dog treat or play toy.

Another option is the “freeze and ignore” technique. If the puppy puts your hand in his mouth , stay still, do nothing — do not even look at the puppy until he gets the message that biting is not getting your attention. When he quits biting, you should praise him, tell him to Sit, and calmly praise and pet him. If he goes for your hands again, freeze and totally ignore him (no eye or physical contact) until he sits, repeating as needed until he understands that biting gets nothing, but sitting gets positive attention from you.

Consistency is crucial! All family members need to handle the play biting problem in the same way. By addressing the playbiting problem while it is a minor behavioral problem, you can prevent it from becoming a major and painful (for you) lifetime habit. The sooner you interrupt the play biting cycle by helping the puppy understand every single time what behavior is required, the faster the puppy will become a welcome and well-adjusted member of your household.

The above information was furnished by Melanie Schlaginhaufen and Judy Allen of Best Friends Bed and Biscuit. Reprinted with permission. For more information or a consultation contact Best Friends Bed And Biscuit @ (336) 643-9096.

Spay and Neuter to Save Lives

During puppy and kitten season animal shelters and rescue groups are overwhelmed with litters of puppies and kittens looking for homes. While ARFP is a no-kill rescue group, not all rescues and shelters are. This year, an estimated four million animals will be euthanized in shelters around the country, simply because they don’t have a home. You can help prevent this tragedy by having your pet spayed or neutered. Not only does spaying/neutering help with the pet overpopulation problem, but it also has many health and behavioral benefits for your pet. Consult your vet today, or contact one of the organizations listed below for information on their low cost spay/neuter programs.

Piedmont Communities Spay Neuter & Wellness Clinic
4527 West Wendover Ave.
Greensboro, NC 27409
299-3060

Triad Spay/Neuter Clinic
3163 Hines Chapel Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27405
375-3222

Low Cost Spay Neuter Clinic
2780 West Mountain St.
Kernersville, NC 27284
723-7550

Jumping Up on People

Most normal young dogs have the tendency to jump up on people they greet. Many of us have  unintentionally conditioned our dogs to want to be near our faces by picking them up and holding them up to our faces when they are young. This causes problems later on when the dog is large and insists on jumping up on us in an attempt to be closer to our face. This jumping up to greet is seldom appreciated and can be dangerous when small children are involved. Since the majority of serious dog bites are to children’s faces, it is important to teach the dog not to instinctively reach for the child’s face for attention.

It is wise not to let your puppy lick your face, and children should be taught not to get right into a puppy’s face. Dominant/submissive roles are often expressed this way in canine behavior, and the dog can misinterpret an action and become aggressive when not handled properly by children.

When calling your puppy to you, greet him while crouching down and pet him while he is in the sitting position. Do not let him jump on you to be petted. It can be cute when small puppies run up to you and jump up to be petted. However, if you allow or encourage this behavior, you are unintentionally training the dog that jumping up leads to affection. Never pet or praise the puppy while he is jumping up or immediately after he has done so. Simply put, If he learns that jumping up leads to affection, he will continue to jump.

If your puppy or dog has all ready developed a jumping up habit, you can help him break it. First of all, make sure you are not unintentionally encouraging the dog to jump with your hand motions. If you wish to use a command, such as “Off” or “No Jump,” be sure to use downward hand motions. Most people pull their hands to their chests and yell “Get Down!” when a dog starts to jump. For several reasons, this actually makes it more likely that the dog will jump. First, the upward hand motion encourages the dog to jump on your chest. Second, the yelling excites the dog’s adrenal system, making it more hyperactive and less likely to respond calmly in its attempts to secure your attention. Finally, your reaction definitely gives the dog the attention, and though its negative attention, the dog gets what he was after.

We have found the most effective and humane way of reversing the jumping up habit is to try to replace the behavior with a “Sit” command. If you have trained your dog to sit this should get him off of you. Try to keep treats in your pocket and use the “praise – pat – treat” method of reward for sitting. If your dog will not sit when you give the command then completely ignore him while he is jumping up – – do not even look at him. Your dog will soon tire of leaning against you, especially if if he is not receiving any attention and he will get off. Then, tell him to sit, and if he does, use the “praise – pat – treat” method. If he gets excited and jumps up again, completely ignore him. most dogs will learn in 5 – 10 days that sitting is a more effective way of getting attention than jumping up. Make sure you acknowledge your dog when he comes up and sits in front of you. Give lots of positive reinforcement for good behavior.

Until your dog understands that jumping up results in ZERO attention, you must be patient and ignore the jumping up behavior.

Traditional training methods of kneeing the dog in the chest and stepping on his feet are usually not effective and can be dangerous to the dog. Plus when you make intentional contact with the dog, you are giving him exactly what he wants — attention! Dogs prefer negative attention to no attention at all!

Jumping Up on Children

If you have children old enough to understand, have them practice telling the dog to sit for praise and treats after you have already taught the “Sit ” command. The most important thing in teaching a dog not to jump on children is teaching the child how to react when they see the dog coming. Tell the child to say “Sit” very cheerfully (but not yelling); also, tell them not to run, and not to yell “No” at the dog, and not to pull their hands up toward their chest or face. Instruct them to push their hands downward as they say “Sit.” This will help them teach the dog that he receives attention when he is in the correct position.

No puppy is too young (or dog to old) to learn an acceptable way of greeting. Starting your relationship with your new puppy or dog by establishing a good family routine will help prevent and deter the undesirable jumping habit.

The above information was furnished by Melanie Schlaginhaufen and Judy Allen of Best Friends Bed and Biscuit. Reprinted with permission. For more information or a consultation contact Best Friends Bed And Biscuit @ (336) 643-9096.