Mo’s training Plan

Mo'sheadhalter
Mo at 10.5 weeks

His name is Mocean, or Mo for short. I’ve had him 2.5 weeks. I have a training plan that I keep taped on the fridge, I fill it out in pen as the day goes on, then at the end of the week, I enter that as a simple training record on an Excel file. At the end of each week I modify that file by adding in a few new exercises fields, and then monthly I’ll start with a whole new training plan.

So, among the things I’m doing daily, is desentizing the puppy to various training tools, ie: crate, dremel, brushes, blower, pen, leash,booties,harness and chief among them is head halter. Every day I practice feeding him through his head halter and taking it off. At this point now I am clipping it on him completely, with no leash but that clip attached to his collar and heeling around the living room. I like this type of head halter to start, as it isn’t so easy to wipe off with a paw, but we will eventually graduate to the simpler “Gentle Leader.” I want him to be super comfortable and relaxed with his head halter, because he is going to be a big dog. Head halters are valuable learning tools, and once the dog is demonstrating learning and understanding, then it’s easy to fade and eliminate the head halter (and then fade and eliminate the leash). Here’s a video I did that demonstrates how we ultimately fade the head halter. Head halter 

But how do you fade a prong, or a body restraining harness? Beats me. So I train to a head halter, and also to a non-restrictive harness. I would never want to use a no-pull harness because when my dog is on a harness (for skijoring or tracking), I want him to pull! The body harnesses we use are unrestrictive as possible, and I allow pulling and sniffing when on harness.   Sled dog type cross back harnesses can help me cue  my dog to track, scent, or pull ahead of me.

But when I want a dog to “walk nicely?”  Head halters help dogs learn that trick much faster than any other system.  I think of it as being very similar to handling the reins of a horse: f you are a gentle responsive handler, you can teach your puppy to be respond very well to gentle handling. There’s no need to jerk/choke/shock or yank on a leash.

I did a pet behavior survey where I asked pet owners what type of gear they used, and whether they were successful in teaching loose leash walking. Some pet owners tried 6 different types of collars and harnesses, and still struggled in vain to teach their dogs to walk nicely. Head halter trainers stood out as the group that seemed to have the least difficulty not just with leash walking but with their dogs in general. When dogs aren’t simply “managed,” but when they actually “learn,” then they have the opportunity to earn more freedom. That means, they don’t get utter freedom as puppies and then grow up to be a dog in a straight jacket, but we dole out freedom incrementally, and they earn ever more freedom as they  grow.

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