The Hound Who Hates His Halti
This article was submitted by Emmaline Duffy-Fallon, head trainer at Citizen Canine Ireland.
Head collars such as Halti's and Gentle Leaders can be very beneficial to the owner of a dog who pulls on the lead. These head collars act as a type of power steering, giving the owner greater control over their dog when out on walks.
Not all dogs, however, readily accept wearing their head collars. If your dog routinely fusses & paws when it is on, follow the steps below that will help systematically desensitise him to wearing his head collar.
By devoting a few minutes each day to this process, you should be able to create a hound who happily wears his Halti in a matter of days. Only advance to the next step when your dog demonstrates a 'happy reaction' to the current step.
What is a happy reaction? The reaction you get when you produce his lead to go for a walk, reach for the dog biscuits or say ' wanna go for a walk?' Happy anticipation.
What you'll need
Head collar and a handful of tiny, very tasty treats.
Step 1 - Produce the Halti in full view of your dog and IMMEDIATELY following it's appearance, dispense treats to your dog one after another for the length of time the Halti is in view (2-5 seconds). After 2-5 seconds is up put the Halti and food away.
Step 2 - Repeat step 1, 5-6 times daily or however long it takes for you to get a 'happy reaction'.
Step 3 - Produce the Halti and feed treats through the nose band. Your dog must target his nose through the loose nose band to eat the treats that you are holding beyond the band. As your dog becomes more relaxed about poking his snout through the nose band, gradually increase the amount of time he must insert his muzzle through the nose band before giving a treat.
For example: dog inserts his nose/muzzle for 1 second - give a treat, dog inserts his nose/muzzle for 2 seconds - give a treat. Your goal is up to 10 seconds before giving a treat. Next, hold the nose band open and wait till he actively targets his nose through the band BEFORE you produce the treats and then reward him for his cleverness.
Step 4 - Snap the LOOSE head strap on and scatter several treats (10+) on the floor next to him and allow him to eat them. When he is finished eating, immediately remove the Halti and put it away. Repeat this step 30 seconds later and repeat this step 5-7 times more that day.
Step 5 - Progress to fitting the head straps so that they are snug around the back of the head. Offer a treat every 2 seconds and gradually build up to 10 seconds or longer before giving another treat.
Step 6 - Attach his head collar and have him eat a whole meal (supervise this) then remove the Halti or if he loves playing fetch have him wear his head collar during the game, and as soon as the game ends, remove the Halti.
Step 7 - By now your dog should be happily and readily accepting the Halti so take the show on the road and enjoy your walk. Keep the lead LOOSE (i.e. not wrapped around your wrist) and deliver treats often for the first couple of weeks while on walks.
© Emmaline Duffy-Fallon, Citizen Canine Ireland - www.citizencanineireland.com