Using headcollars to help train, the benefits of excercise for old and young dogs, and why socialization is so important.

The Headcollars, the Halti, the Gentle Leader, the Dogalter used correctly are one of the best training aids on the market and used extensively in the U.K and the USA. Used on horses and cattle since time began they transfer the strength from the animal to the handler. Who would ever dream of taking a headstrong stallion over the field without a halter. Roger Mugford was the pioneer of this system.

Advantages: Used for walking to heel. They tend to calm excitable dogs. It is easy to turn the head if the dog shows aggression at another dog i.e. break eye to eye contact. The dog has not the strength to pull the handler if it lurches forward. Ideal for a person where the dog is too strong for the handler. For every one dog where the headcollar has not been appropriate I have had a hundred where it has. Dogs that wear headcollars will also accept muzzles without objection.

Disadvantages: They can look like muzzles, people sometimes do not like them. The lead should not be jerked hard with the ones that lock the mouth closed. (I always recommend that they be used with a Kombi (half check) so that the dog can not back out of them and also to allow for correction should this be required. With some dogs and bad handling the dogs are seen to 'crab' along with the neck and head twisted which I have no doubt may cause damage in the long term.

Exercise: Exercising young or small dogs needs special attention. One must realise that that small dog take 10 steps to our one, young dogs under 18 months need most of their energy for growing! Dogs in kennels need plenty of shade and water and it is a good idea to hose down your dogs a couple of times every day with the hose, not on the head or ears.

Finally a lot of thought should go into grooming and clipping your pet. Many owners think it better to clip their pets short in hot weather. I recommend that dogs are not clipped too short otherwise their skins will burn. Dog's coats are for protection against cold weather and the sun.

Fighting Dogs: A dog which fights another has nearly always lacked early socialization. Normally, as long as there is no human interference, dogs will quickly sort out which is the dominant one without causing much damage to each other as long as they are off the lead. Putting a leash on a dog, when you see another dog approaching, teaches it that it must get to that other dog quickly to escape the punishment of being put on the leash. Take the dog to a training class where it can socialize.

"One dog is a pet and two is a problem". That is the saying in our profession. Two male dogs fight over status or through jealousy over you. A behaviorist can analyze who is the Alpha. Once this has been established, and there must be no error, then the junior should be castrated to reduce his status. This normally stops the fighting. Two female dogs which fight are another matter altogether. It is no good having one of them spayed and the only real answer is to find one of them another home.

An older dog and a newly acquired puppy can work out how to live together if you allow nature to take its course. Simply walk away when the older one gets vocal. Feed and pet the older dog first. If they start fighting always walk away for your presence causes jealousy. Similarly when you touch the young pup you put your scent on it so the older one gets jealous.

David the Dogman

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