training to overcome fear of harness?

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by Lara, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. MF

    MF Registered Users

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    As I wrote earlier, it happened to Snowie - he somersaulted with a head halter on him - and that didn't stop him racing off again. Thank goodness I left that school eventually.
     
  2. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    This is what terrifies me about head halters. Imagine the whiplash stress on the neck and head when a dog is stopped moving forwards at speed or in a lunge. *shudder* Dreadful, just dreadful.
     
  3. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    And humans as well! I tied my dog round my waist, but not to use as suggested for Charlie, as suggested by a trainer, just to keep hands free and dog near you. My husband appeared, dog lunged in excitement and I cracked my............

    I wanted to delete this as I remember I have said it before:facepalm: I can't delete it, can a mod do it for me please.
     
  4. Ski-Patroller

    Ski-Patroller Cooper, Terminally Cute

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    I am always surprised by dogs that don't like a harness or collar. Cooper does not like most tools (brush, clippers etc) but she and all of our dogs have been happy to have a harness, or even a prong collar put on. because they know they are going for a walk.
     
  5. JenBainbridge

    JenBainbridge Registered Users

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    I know this might sound daft but have you tried a different harness.

    Stanley hated his and then chewed it so it snapped. We got a different one & he's taken to it much easier.
     
  6. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    I did wonder too. Casper accepts one harness over another. The difference is quite marked.
     
  7. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    For Charlie, it is not about the style of harness. Or whether he gets a walk after the harness is put on.

    The sensation of something being fastened round his body - he reacts the same to coats and drying fleeces - is just something he hates.

    After hours - hundreds of hours - I have got him to be 'ok' about having his harness put on. But he is still not his normal self, and I really don't underestimate the impact it has on him.
     
  8. Ruffie'sMum

    Ruffie'sMum Registered Users

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    So I have been trying, for the last 3 months, to do this with Ruffie and a Halti headcollar. She is in training to be an assistance dog and so will need to wear one because it improves communication between the handler and the dog (or so I'm told). But she HATES it. She rolls around pawing at her face and won't walk. I've been using the following method, maybe it will work for you?
    - hold the loop open with one hand and hold a treat on the other side. When she puts her nose through the loop to get the treat, say "good" (don't have a 3rd hand for a clicker) and let her have the treat. Repeat.
    - next, lure her through the loop with a treat and let the weight of the harness be on her without doing it up. Repeat.
    - Lure through the loop, do up THEN give her the treat. Repeat.
    - The final step is to get her to don the harness in exchange for a meal. I do this with Ruffie's breakfast every morning.
    The hope is that, after a while, she will associate the harness with food, and by getting her to be actively involved with its' putting on, you make it her choice.
    I hope this helps! Harnesses are good, safe tools but not all dogs like to wear anything.
     
  9. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Hmm, that sounds a bit peculiar. You'd have thought if anyone needed the best communication between dog and handler, it would be a blind person, and the Guide Dogs for the Blind don't wear Haltis.
     
  10. Ruffie'sMum

    Ruffie'sMum Registered Users

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    But hearing dogs for the deaf do. It's down to the dog in question, the needs of the handler and the preference of the trainer. For Ruffie's future handler, who has limited mobility and is prone to dissociative episodes, a headcollar is what has been suggested. If the handler dissociates in say, a shop or something, it would be much easier for Ruffie to lead the handler to a safe place if she were wearing a headcollar than if the lead were attached to a collar or a body harness.
    Obviously, if she just doesn't take to it, we'll come up with something else, such as a light-bracing harness, like the harnesses guide dogs for the blind wear, but everyone involved agrees a halti would be less obtrusive to dog and handler in the long run.
     
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  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Do you think? Maybe it's a different type of headcollar than the Haltis I'm used to seeing, which tighten around the dog's muzzle if they put any pressure on them. These are designed to be aversive so the dog doesn't apply that pressure (ie pull). So I don't see how a dog wearing one of these would be able to guide someone, since it goes against how they're supposed to work? The body harness with a solid handle seems far more appropriate for guiding for me. Being attached to the dog's body, it will guide the person in the direction of the dog's travel, rather than the direction the dog is looking - if the dog looks at distraction or potential danger when walking, the headcollar would turn, too, guiding the person towards that thing. That seems .... strange .... if that thing is a danger!
     
  12. Ruffie'sMum

    Ruffie'sMum Registered Users

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    Hmmm I do see you point. But here is how the training works, and maybe then I can communicate properly (I sometimes have problems being understood, and I don't want you to think I'm being cruel).
    During training, the dog wears its "work clothes"; a bib, a lead and, often, a halti. This ensemble means to the dog that it is working. Take them off, and it's free time (to an extent). We incorporate the work clothes into what it means to be working, for example: when wearing the bib, the dog can't be patted by anyone but the handler; when wearing the halti, the dog must walk nicely at the handler's side and must not be reactive. BUT there are also exceptions to those rules: if the handler falls down and starts shaking, the dog (regardless of dress) gets the attention of he nearest person; and if the handler dissociates, the dog is trained to recapture the handler's attention by putting pressure on the lead in the direction of the nearest safe place. It's not an active pulling motion as might be expected, more of a little tug or a gentle pressure. If the handler doesn't respond, the dog nuzzles a leg, nudges with its head, grabs a sleeve, anything, to get the handler to look at it. One eye contact is established, the dog puts pressure on the lead in the direction of the nearest safe place, and the handler gets there under their own steam. This is different to the more extreme leading-tasks you might be thinking of, like when someone with PTSD has a flashback and may beed to be forcefully moved. Dissociation is very suggestible state! Of course, a front-leading harness works almost as well, you just have to train the dog to point its whole body towards the safe place rather than just its head.
    So, you see, unless responding to a specific cue, the fully trained assistance dog shouldn't react to anything in the environment enough to put pressure on the lead from the halti, because it is working and it knows that. When it does react it does so in a pre-trained manner that both the dog and the handler understand.
     
  13. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I do understand, I believe, but I still don't understand why you would have a dog in a headcollar that is designed to cause discomfort to the dog, especially when he is just doing his job? There may be headcollars on the market that don't work this way - or have one designed for the purpose.

    I also understand that the dogs are trained to not be reactive, but they should also be able to look at something to determine whether it is a danger - for example, if there is a sudden, loud noise (something falling to the floor, a car backfiring, a door slamming, an explosion, a balloon popping, a gun), surely you would expect the dog to be able to look at it to work out whether it needs moving away from, or if it's nothing to be concerned about?

    This is the type of harness I was talking about, which seems to be far superior in terms of its leading abilities and moreover isn't designed to be punishing to the dog.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Lara

    Lara Registered Users

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    thanks Ruffie's Mum! Actually this is pretty much exactly the course of action I have been taking recently. We've also been putting it on for dinners. But it seemed like she would tolerate it for dinners and for harness 'training' (i.e. the putting head through, C&T, do it up, C&T etc.) but as soon as she sensed this was the final harness-to-be-left-on moment (usually around her normal walk times) she would back away and not come near me. Recently I realised it is the leaving it on that is scary for her, so I have started putting it on and taking it off straight away in exchange for treats, right through the day, as many times as I can. Then, two times out of those, it is left on and she goes for a walk. Making the harness going on an almost 100% temporary thing seems to make the difference for Indie. Now she follows me about when I have the harness in my hand. She is still not happy when it is left on, but we don't have the running-to-hide problem we had before :) she still has to walk backwards round the coffee table though once it is clipped up...o_O
     
  15. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Registered Users

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    With regards to guide dogs, I wonder if Mags (@Boogie ) could comment on my query. Not that I expect you to know everything about GDs :rolleyes:
    There is a dog around me, who is a guide dog, and wears what I think is a gentle leader. This surprised me, as he/she also wears the usual guide dog "work wear" as normal.
    I am guessing its not for control, not for a working guide dog.

    Interestingly today I saw another guide dog. It definitely wasn't the usual make - neither lab or GR for sure - if anything it looked a little like an Irish wolfhound, certainly around the head if not in the size - just normal lab kind of size.
     

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