One of the things I wanted to work on at the Wildrose DAD conference was to get Major off his pinch collar. A pinch collar is a collar that has prongs on it to aid in controlling the dog. Major has always been a puller, and in his previous life, was abused with an e-shock collar, and has a very strong neck. The gentle leader/halti device always leads to him rubbing his head on the ground, so the pinch collar became our go to to keep life easy.
And let’s be honest. The issue has always been that I was lazy. We worked hard on other things with him, we had the pinch, it worked, and I moved on to other things.
For me, it became a crutch. It was less effort, less work, and I got lazy. But I know that Major is a perfectly capable, amazing, obedient dog, I just needed to commit to not being lazy. Enter the Wildrose DAD conference. Just me & Major for 6 days, with nothing else in particular to work on.
My issue has been that Major would know the difference between wearing the pinch or not, so he would immediately start pulling again when off the pinch. I had the opportunity to work with Mike Stewart and Mary Elizabeth Griffin from Wildrose at the conference. They were working with experienced DAD teams in small groups to help with individual issues each team had. My issue was to get him off the pinch, and there was another team with the same issue.
The answer was easy (of course it was!). Keep the pinch on for awhile, but add a second collar (in my case, a martingale) and attach the leash to the other collar. That way, the dog still thinks the pinch is on, and acts accordingly. After a period of time, if needed, I could use the pinch inside out on him, and continue to ween him (and me) off it.
In reality, at the conference under heavy training sessions, I only needed to do it 1 day, and then we went pinch free. The big test would be if I could get total buy in from the rest of my family when we got home.
On our first walk with Stella, she noticed the difference right away. She had to work a little harder, but she saw tremendous improvement, and she knew Major was working hard too. My wife, who winds up handling the dog while taking kids to school with hands full of lunch bags, back packs, and dodging hundreds of running/screaming school children, has also only used the martingale.
It’s been just over a week. I am happy and excited. This will serve us well as Stella continues to take Rally classes with him, as a loose leash is the #1 requirement. We are on our way! He is even getting better with his ground sniffing.
Here is a video from last night of us on our evening walk. Lots of distractions, dogs barking, cars going by, but he is rock solid.
Here is a video from our Facebook Page that shows Stella working with Major using her body leash. Really proud of these two!
We will continue to work this. I have visions of Stella and Major working their way up to advanced Rally, which requires off leash work. 🙂