Weaning off head halter

I am officially sick and tired of using the Gentle Leader and/or Halti on Inara. It’s time she (and I) wean ourselves off of it. She is 3 1/2 years old now and fully capable of having manners on a flat collar. Right? Right!

We’ve been working on loose leash walking plus a more formal attention heel, all on flat collar, in the yard and driveway. She’s doing fantastically, though I’m still using a crapload of treats as she’s still learning. The second I step onto the street though, she forgets I’m there. I mean as soon as all four feet are on the street (inches away from the driveway that she pays attention in!) she totally disconnects from me.

I’ve been continuing to do most of our training in the yard/driveway because I know it’s a good idea to get a task solid in one place before moving on, but I do have a question. Should I suck it up and put the GL back on her for some long walks, or are the shorter training sessions with lots of mental stimulation enough? She’s tired after our training sessions, but I feel bad that she’s seeing the exact same scenery every day. However, I don’t want to set back our training by allowing poor leash behavior on the GL just so we get a longer walk. Does that make sense?

The only reason I’m hesitating is because she’s begun acting like an ass even on the GL – pulling like crazy and just annoying the crap out of me. From this point on I don’t ever want her to think she can pull on leash. 

So, cliffs notes version (since I write too much!): short training sessions so she is set up to succeed, or put on the GL and suffer through longer walks so she gets a change of scenery?

P.S. Is it wrong of me to be highly entertained that my neighbors’ Yorkies freak out and shriek and yap the entire time I’m working with Inara outside? Inara ignores them completely. I hear the neighbors getting pissed at the Yorkies.

P.P.S. Check out Brad’s website – he’s getting his leatherwork business up and running.  I ordered a collar from him and will let you know as soon as I get it!

Dirty dog after rolling in, well, I don't want to know what it was!
Dirty dog after rolling in, well, I don't want to know what it was!

3 thoughts on “Weaning off head halter

  1. Quizz ate his Gentle Lead. I don’t know how he got it. But he did. I found it in pieces strewn across the floor with him sitting proudly in the chaos. I guess that was his version of ‘Death to the Gentle Leader!’

    From then on we worked with his training collar for about a year. He walks like a gem. Goes on point when he sees a squirrel or rabbit, but no longer pulls. It took him to about 2 1/2 to get that far. Then my nieces could walk him w/o a problem. He’s five now and teaches dog manners to other puppies that come his way.

  2. I’ve had good success with Star by starting with a Premier (limited-slip nylon collar) and using the “circle method” to teach loose leash. I know the same scenery can really suck, especially when you’re doing circles in front of your own house. Also, I discovered that Star will do a much better loose leash when she has no clue where we’re going (versus the standard neighborhood walk).

    So you might actually see some progress if you take Inara for a drive to some new place like a park, a shopping center, etc. and do training there for a short time instead. Let her do a little sniffing around, then give the “heel” or “walk” command and commence enforcement.

    Although there were problems with this at first because Star was super-distracted and could have cared less about me and my stupid treats, within a few months she was used to going to some random new place and walking around. I always took her there hungry (no breakfast) and tired (after playing in the yard or at the dog park).

    I also expect loose leash in order for her to get any sort of reward, including time at the dog park or in the pet store. If she pulls toward these locations, I turn around and walk with her the other way for about fifteen feet. Then we turn and try again.

    Patience and consistency is the key. I would keep the walks short, but change up the scenery a lot. Star was not too difficult because I started enforcing loose leash as soon as she stepped into our house the first day. It might take longer with Inara simply because you’re expecting something totally new after three+ years without saying anything about it. Don’t feel bad; Dozer is eight years old and I’ve pretty much given up teaching him loose leash at this point. 😛

  3. We are working on the same thing, or were until Daisy hurt her knee/hip. But what worked best for us was about 20-30 minutes walking on gentle leader, then a sit stay, take off the gentle leader and about 10-15 on a flat collar, then back to gentle leader. Tonight is our CGC test, I am not sure we will pass since she has been on really short walks and restricted form lose in the yard for the last 4 weeks and is so full of energy, and has about 3 more to go. But I will think positive.

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