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I went to look at pinch collars and saw this Sporn halter. I thought I'd ask here before deciding to try it (or not). So what do you all think of this "halter"? Good, bad, stupid?

Back in the days, when we first got Khan, he was a puller. So, we were using the prong, and it was working fine. One day, while out walking, we ran into someone who lives across the street, who believes strongly* that the prong is eevil, and gave me a Sporn to try on him. He pulled right through it. I did end up using it however, *after he was leash trained, and no longer pulled, because I like the idea of harnesses better than collars (personal bias), and because this one was narrow, it didn't mat his fur.
Suja
with walking both together on the first walk around the neighborhood... That's a lot of not good ideas for as little time as you've had Briar.

Hmmm. I beg to differ. With both Ranger and Duke, I pretty much tossed 'em in with the crew and away we went. I spent most of Ranger's first long walk (his first day with me, btw) trying to figure out what his name should be.
...You could have been hurt and you could also have lost both dogs.

Well, that's a fair point. And walking two dogs who are at very different "politeness points" on the leash-walking spectrum can be an interesting exercise in communication.
As for Briar pulling like a freight train, and not minding being choked Don't Let Him DO That. For greatest clarity, working him alone is probably best. I've dealt with it "in company", as it were, but it isn't nearly as efficient as one-on-one. (Even when you get a dog walking nicely on leash on his own, don't be surprised if you have to make a few corrections or adjustments when you add another dog or circumstances change.)
You don't need a special collar, or halter, or whatever. The key to getting a dog to stop pulling is to not let them start pulling. Which sounds completely supid, but it's true.
Let's see if I can make this brief. Dogs pull to go somewhere. If pulling always results in the dog NOT going anywhere, then going somewhere (on a loose leash) is a reward. This is where the "make like a tree" (when the leash tightens, you stop moving) advice comes in. As far as it goes, it's fine.
Dogs accustomed to pushing into their collar think being half-choked is how walks are supposed to be. They've been trained to accept oxygen deprivation as a normal part of their daily walk. With dogs like this, it may not be enough to stop forward progress and wait for the dog to put slack in the leash. You have to MAKE slack in the leash.

It can go something like this: leash goes taut, you stop, dog ignores you and continues to put pressure on the leash. Stalemate. So, you say the dog's name, or make an interesting noise, or do something to put slack in the leash AND show the dog that walking and a cessation of pressure on his neck are related. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

This can be another situation where a "watch me" command comes in super handy.
You don't need a special collar, or halter, or whatever. The key to getting a dog to stop pulling is to not let them start pulling. Which sounds completely supid, but it's true.

I agree with this.
Let's see if I can make this brief. Dogs pull to go somewhere. If pulling always results in the dog NOT going anywhere, then going somewhere (on a loose leash) is a reward.

This is almost certainly not typical of other dogs, but I've found that Siberians are perfectly happy to hang themselves on the collar for as long as you're willing to stand there. They definitely like to get down the trail but if they can't get down the trail they're pretty happy not to go anywhere as long as they're on the collar/harness/whatever.

I'm a big fan of frequent direction changes as a way of getting attention and liberal rewards for doing the right thing.

Melinda Shore - Software longa, hardware brevis - (Email Removed)

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This is almost certainly not typical of other dogs, but I've found that Siberians are perfectly happy to hang themselves ... they can't get down the trail they're pretty happy not to go anywhere as long as they're on the collar/harness/whatever.

Well, I'd never claim Duke as a "typical" Lab, but it never occurred to him to do anything but lean into the collar. The heelers, otoh, were far more inclined to initiate a change. Admittedly, the change they usually decide to make is to try and herd me forward, but as long as they put slack in the leash on their approach I could continue the walk.
I'm a big fan of frequent direction changes as a way of getting attention and liberal rewards for doing the right thing.

Oh, yeah.
I have found those to be worse than useless. Elliott ... your problem in both the sort term and long term.

Ditto. We used one of those on our first Dal, and all it did was to irritate the heck out of her 'armpits'.

My understanding is that they've been known to cause nerve damage where the cord applies pressure.
They're not my favorite training harness by a long shot. If you don't want to go with the prong (which I used to use a lot, but rarely use these days), then you might try to find one of these two brands:

http://www.premier.com/pages.cfm?id=74
or this one
http://www.softouchconcepts.com /
They are nearly the same thing, but the sizing for the two brands is different, and the Easy Walk has a Martingale style connection on the front as well as an extra clasp to open from either the top or the bottom (which I could do without as it seems to confuse most clients about which strap goes on top).
And, FWIW, I agree with the other posters. If you want this dog to be leash trained for the long run, you're going to have to walk him and teach him seperately in the short run. Unfortunately, that's one of those non-negotiable dealies.
Tara
Okay, I'm working from home today so I just did what I should have done on Briar's first walk with me. First let me say that walking a mile 2-3 steps at a time is a loong process. OTOH, I made some important observations about Briar... and of course I have a few more questions.

He was fairly well stressed out on the walk when he heard dogs barking and especially when cars drove by. I did what I always do with Roxy (because she is completely oblivious to cars and I want her to learn to get away from them), I walked a few steps off the street into yards (we have no sidewalks) and stood still until the cars passed. Then we continued on. He wasn't quite as frantically trying to get away from the cars the last block, so I'm thinking this will work, but would love any input.
Oh yeah, I didn't comfort him when he was fearful. Should I have? I remember reading years ago that only rewards/encourages fearful behavior, but I'm still waiting on the pile of books I ordered so I can really learn this stuff.
Also, at first I was telling Briar "no" when he pulled, stopping dead, and then waiting for slack in the leash. When he stopped pulling, I'd say "okay" and start walking again. I realized his senses were overloaded so I stopped talking altogether and just quietly stopped dead, waited for slack (sometimes I'd snap the leash if he kept pulling), then continued on. Most of the time we only got 3 steps before he'd be pulling again, but twice I counted 7 steps (progress?).

So my question is this: should I contine working with him on the leash quietly like this while he gets used to the sounds and sights of our neighborhood? I couldn't get his attention at all while we were walking not even for treats but during the last half of our walk when I was silent, it seemed to go much better. I'm thinking I need to work on "look at me" when he's not scared and reinforce it in more relaxed surroundings before working on it while walking. That will also give him time to acclimate to the neighborhood.
So please, I'd welcome any constructive criticism (hold the sugar coating, really, I'm thick skinned).
Thanks.

Lynne
My understanding is that they've been known to cause nerve damage where the cord applies pressure.

That right there sounds like a deal breaker. The one I was looking at has padding in the pits, but I can still see nerve damage resulting *if* the dog continues pulling with it.
I'm probably going to get a prong collar, but today I walked him with his nylon flat collar (the kind with a metal belt type buckle) and it seems that if I'm patient enough, he'll learn. OTOH patience is really not one of my strong suits, so if a prong would make this easier to teach, I will get one. So will a prong make this easier to teach, depending on Briar's response to it?
And, FWIW, I agree with the other posters. If you want this dog to be leash trained for the long run, you're going to have to walk him and teach him seperately in the short run. Unfortunately, that's one of those non-negotiable dealies.

I definitely took advice that to heart. I took Roxy for a quick jog alone and then had a painfully slow walk with Briar. I have a couple of days this week where I can do this, and I'm thinking Roxy will just have to forgo her night walk for a while so I can work one-on-one with Briar. On days when I have to be gone, I will get up early and take one and then take the other at night. It's not ideal for the amount of exercise I think they need, but for now, it'll have to do.

Lynne
Oh yeah, I didn't comfort him when he was fearful. Should I have?

Nope. Once you start to get the hang of this stuff, you might try some counterconditioning (associate "scary" stuff with Really Good Stuff), but for now, you're doing fine.
...I'm thinking I need to work on "look at me" when he's not scared and reinforce it in more relaxed surroundings before working on it while walking.

It's generally a good idea to introduce new stuff and do the initial training in an environment as distraction-free as possible. In fact, sometimes it's a good idea to backtrack and do this with dogs who aren't responding as expected in a situation with more distractions.

Tangential anecdote alert!
Duke and I are taking an Advanced Beginner class at my club. I've owned him for years now, he's attended classes in this building before, even had this instructor before, and I've brought him to my classes as a "demo dog". He has a stress shutdown thing that we've mostly worked past but I was having real trouble getting him to follow my cues when heeling.
Investigating further (by reducing the distractions and simplifying what I asked), I found that he still hasn't got a decent grasp of "watch me". I have to fix that "hole" in his training before I can start to worry about heeling. That doesn't mean we don't go walking, or that I let him ignore me!
Well, I'd never claim Duke as a "typical" Lab, but ... on their approach I could continue the walk. Oh, yeah.

Okay, I'm working from home today so I just did what I should have done on Briar's first walk with ... the neighborhood. So please, I'd welcome any constructive criticism (hold the sugar coating, really, I'm thick skinned). Thanks. Lynne

I'd be working on the LLW in as distraction free an environment as possible - that could be in your yard, or even in a hallway. THEN when he has that conquered, take it on the road. In addition to stopping, you can back up - or simply change directions. I'd introduce him to distractions from a distance. Don't overload him and don't ask for a lot of different stuff at once. Set ONE GOAL per session to work on. BroomSandy
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