Friday, August 17, 2012

Love It: Gentle Leader

Athena is a pretty big puller when we take her on walks, especially if there are distractions in the environment.  We have been working to eliminate this pulling behavior by teaching the heel command and encouraging her to walk at our side rather than in front of us.

For the past 4 weeks we have been using the Easy Walk Harness when we take Athena on walks.  However, Athena's underarms were irritated by the rubbing of the nylon from the harness and she got a hot spot.  We are currently treating it with a steroid/antibiotic spray for the next two weeks, so we can't use the Easy Walk Harness during that time.

We have been wanting to try the Gentle Leader head collar after hearing about how it gives the most amount of control for dogs that pull on the leash.  It was on sale at Petsmart for about $17.00 so we decided to give it a try.
When first putting it on Athena we gave her lots of treats and praise.  She clearly didn't like the feeling of the collar on her nose because she kept pawing at it.  We distracted her from doing this pawing by having her do commands (sit, down, stay) for treats.
Athena wearing the Gentle Leader head collar

Once we had the collar attached to the leash, we took Athena outside.  She did a few gallops and tried to get the collar off of her nose.  The person at Petsmart who helped us fit the collar on Athena told us that we should keep her in a trot rather than a walk when first introducing the collar.  This is because the dog will lose it's balance if trying to paw at their nose at the same time as trotting.  We took Athena on a quick 10 minute walk to get her used to the collar.  For her evening walk we took her out for 20 minutes.  Today we were able to take her on an hour walk in the morning and she didn't seem to be bothered much by the collar anymore.

Overall we have seen a big difference in the amount of control that we have when walking Athena.  If she begins to pull we can give the leash a gentle tug and she is back at our side.  The control of the collar allows us to gently lift her nose if she gets too focused on sniffing and it also allows us to keep her mouth closed if needed.

Although the collar looks a bit like a muzzle, it allows the dog full range of motion with their mouth.  They can pant, drink, eat, and bark.

We plan to keep using the Gentle Leader and are hoping that it will continue to eliminate Athena's leash pulling behavior!

-A
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13 comments:

  1. Based on your awesome review, and your wonderful tips, I have been thinking about getting one of these harnesses for our newest guy. Today, I purchased one and used it on our evening walk, and while he did paw at it a bit, he did so much better tonight than on any other walk.

    Also, I wanted to say that you and your hubby adopted your pit bull the same day my hubby and I adopted our first pit bull. So I have thoroughly enjoyed following along your journey and have already learned a bunch. Also, we bought that same leaky water bottle. Which one did you decide on?

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    1. I'm so glad that you decided to try the Gentle Leader! Athena still paws at it sometimes, but she doesn't really seem to mind wearing it. It's a lot easier to get her away from tempting things along our walks (like half eaten burritos lying on the ground).

      How weird that we adopted our pits on the same day! How old is yours?! Thanks so much for reading the blog. We have enjoyed documenting all of our experiences with Athena!

      I decided to give that dang leaky water bottle another try the other day so I put it in my backpack during our walk....well all of a sudden I felt the sweatshirt that was wrapped around my waist and it was soaking wet! The water bottle leaked ALL of the water out while in the backpack and managed to leak all over my sweatshirt. I looked like I had an accident! We are still trying to decide on a water bottle to get and have just been using a plastic water bottle in the mean time. Let me know if you end up trying a new bottle!

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    2. Another tool for pulling (in fact designed specifically and only for pulling) is the Canny Collar; most dogs accept wearing it WAY better than a Gentle Leader. The only time there is pressure on the muzzle is when they pull, vs the constant pressure from the weight of the leash with the Gentle Leader. Might want to give it a try.

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  2. I am thinking about getting a collapsible bowl, it just seems like the best solution. I am seriously considering this one http://www.spacesavers.com/Storage/Pet-Food-Storage-Feeders/Dexas-Popware-Pet-Travel-Bowl-Green , or one like it that I saw at the grocery store today.

    Our boy is about 8 months old his name is Teal'c ( from Stargate, the tv show).

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    1. Thanks for sharing the link to the bowl that you are thinking about getting. I think I've seen that one at a pet store before. I like that it's totally collapsible and lays flat!

      Awwww Teal'c is even more of a puppy than Athena is! I had no idea that they are still considered puppies until 2-3 years of age! What did we get ourselves into?!

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    ReplyDelete