Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Training dogs involves a lot of hardware - tools, if you will. Last weekend we attended a heeling workshop put on at our obedience club. It was just four hours or so on Sunday afternoon but four hours was plenty when you had a working spot, it was hot, and you were getting your brain filled with new ideas and information.

One of the opening topics was equipment. I have a lot of dog equipment. If I made you a list it'd take me a really long post. For obedience work, I've alternated between flat collars and a skinny choke chain I call Vegas' necklace. Something mentioned though, when going over all the options and how they could be effective was the word respect. Respect. Huh.

The dog needs to respect the tool being used for it to be helpful. I realized my skinny necklace choke chain was really my nemesis with Vegas because I couldn't keep it in a place on her neck to be effective. It's too tiny and too slick, and when given slack slips to her lower neck instead up staying tight up behind her ears. A regular buckle collar in varying widths is nothing to her. She is going to forge when she wants to forge, lag when she wants to lag, and tugging on her with it is almost an act in futility.

Which pretty much leaves me with head collars, pinch collars, and another kind of chain, the kind that has a nylon piece running through it. Since I know with a Gentle Leader I'll get a dog that constantly tries to rub it off and is annoyed with me and yet still pulls, I figure that's not a good obedience/heeling tool for us. I have a pinch collar but it's got the giant prongs. I think if I were to use one I would need to get the size for a smaller dog with the flatter links and then add enough to make it size to her. It's not off my list of possibilities. I decided to purchase the Comfort Dog Chain and try it out.
In the store before purchasing, I did take the tag/hanger off, fit it on Vegas, and try walking around with it a bit. The nice thing is, to be effective a chain or pinch need to be in the correct location on the dog's neck. Because of the nylon inside, this situates itself better on her neck and stays. So from the short bit of testing there, I did get the results I wanted. She respected my requests for attention and correction for lagging, etc.

Of course this was a very short-term test as I wasn't going to do a whole lesson in the store. But I'm hopeful that with the right tool we can really start to progress in our heeling and add obedience to our list of fun things to do. She's certainly got a much better attitude about obedience than she did a few years ago. I'm so much more excited about it than it was and look forward to learning more. I'll share the highlights of the seminar in another post and what other take aways I got from it.

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