Hiya. So our border collie has utterly failed his lessons in loose-lead walking. Taking him for a walk anywhere is miserable, even right after he's run for miles and miles at the park... miserable. I've tried the treats in the off hand trick for days, ever since he was a wee pup, and it's been no help. He doesn't even notice the treats -- he's not particularly food motivated. Those spiky choke chains are illegal here, so that isn't an option.
Because I was concerned our dog was going to permanently damage his larynx, I recently bought a Halti (over the nose halter thing), and it's helped SO much. I can take him for walks now, no problem, but I don't know if this is a long-term solution. He rubs his nose on everything we pass (including my leg), and he breaks his sit-stay to roll on the ground, rubbing his face with his paws. My husband in particular hates the Halti because "he looks sad" (this coming from a man who will carry this full-grown border collie in his arms so he won't choke pulling on his collar!). I've considered just leaving him in the Halti for several hours so he can get used to it, but there are so many straps, it seems unsafe, and anyway I'm nearly certain he would find a way to destroy it.
So... any tips on how to get him used to the Halti?
I have a 9 (almost 10) month old Mastiff who weighs over 140 lbs probably closer to 150 now and without the Halti walking him is just horrible, we actually have to use the Halti with a Freedom No-Pull harness and a double leash attached to the Halti and the front of the harness, because Oscar could probably pull a truck, let alone little old me. We have been using the Halti for about three weeks and it has made a world of difference to our walks. I do use treats when walking and constantly treat him when he walks well and won't move if he pulls, so he gets the double benefit of treats and walking forward when he doesn't pull. My hope is that I will be able to wean him off the Halti, but being such a big, strong dog, that might take a while. Our local giant breed rescue uses the gentle leader on their dogs. Thankfully, I didn't have a problem getting him used to the Halti, btw, do you have the new style Halti with the neoprene on the nose to help prevent chafing? My trainer recommended watching Jean Donaldson's video on desensitizing to a head collar (gentle leader) which I think is very helpful. She also recommends leaving the Halti on all day (when supervised) to help with desensitization but I haven't needed to do that as he is pretty much cool with it.
ETA: I just noticed you are in the UK, so couldn't get the harness I am talking about, a similar one would be the Balance Dog Harness
Thanks, Mirzam! I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one in this boat -- I swear, every dog on the street seems perfectly content to trot nicely at their owner's ankles. I think I'll do as you recommend and leave him in the Halti for a few hours. I just need to be careful to keep an eye on him since he's the type to obsess. Maybe a nice bone will take his mind off it.
Thanks for the video! I'm going to check it out now.
What sort of work do you do with your Border Collie? In my experience with Borders, you need more than just a good run with them, they need an activity that will mentally stimulate them as well. They're a very hard breed to own because they need so much attention, training, and activities to keep them happy. Maybe this is part of the problem with yours in that he's just a bit too wound up when it's time for walks? Something like agility or flyball may be a good option for you and the dog, as it works the dog both mentally and physically (and is loads of fun!).
I haven't been too much of a fan of the Halti, basically for the same reason as your husband in that they just seem miserable! We used one on our lab and it worked, but the dog hated it. I'm not going to use something that they hate, walking is supposed to be fun! One training device I like for walks is something called an Easy Harness. They're basically harnesses but the leash attaches to the front of the dog, so that when they pull they get directed towards you and can't move forward. Here is a link to a site in the UK, as they seem to be a bit hard to get ahold of here:
Both this and the haltis are, however, training devices. This means that training still needs to go on, they're not a "cure" for leash pulling. They're designed to aid you in training the dog. Border Collies love to learn, so I would use this to your advantage. You might want to look into clicker training as Border Collies usually take to it really well. It's very easy to start with and once your dog learns what the clicker is, he'll start to get very enthusiastic about learning. Maybe find a local trainer in your area who has group obedience classes using clickers?
We are having the exact same problem with our Border Collie. We were using the prong collar but he was starting to become leash aggressive so we switched to the over the nose halti. He has made a huge improvement and no longer barks on our walks, but, he's always trying to get it off. We are working on "heel" with him and take lots of treats with us on walks and will also play tug with him on our walks, but for some reason "heel" is taking him longer to learn. I have noticed that if I do some training with him before our walks, and also on our walks, he usually walks better. He really craves mental stimulation over physical.
Here is a link to the website we use for our training. I really like Michael Ellis's training style. http://leerburg.com/
~Katie~ married to J, mom to DD- A 13 yrs ,DS- L 7yrs , and my little nursling DD2- R 5yrs.
Just keep at it. Stay 100% consistent.
My experience with my dog, who I got at 9 months, is that there is no overnight miracle. I just kept at it, kept at it, kept at it, and this summer I realized that my dog rarely pulls! I guess he improved so slowly that I didn't notice as much.
This is what I did:
- Leash was either gentle leader or easy walk harness
- I gave him treats at first for walking without pulling, then that gradually turned into treats for not pulling and giving me eye contact
- When he pulls, I stop, and wait for eye contact. At first it took forever, but I would leave for the walk approaching it as a training session, not a leisurely stroll. I find it helps to mentally prepare for lots of stops and starts, so you don't get frustrated.
- That evolved into when he pulled, I would stop and wait for eye contact and a return to a position beside me.
I also felt like I was the only dog-owner in the area whose dog pulled like a runaway train, but after months of consistent corrections, he seems to have "got it" (or he just matured???).