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5 Strategies to Transition Your Dog to a Head Collar

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Introduce the head collar gradually, use positive reinforcement, combine it with a regular collar, conduct short training sessions, and increase usage incrementally.

Start by letting your dog sniff

Positive Association and Familiarization.

To introduce the dog to a new head collar, start by letting the dog get a whiff of the head collar. Keep the object as close to your dog as possible, such as in your hand. You can also place the collar by his feeding or playing area where the head collar becomes associated with the positive feelings of feeding or playing. Meanwhile, each time your dog gets curious with the head collar, feed him with his favorite treat. A piece of chicken or a few kibbles can be a good motivator in each training. This is one of the most effective ways of training because of the simple science that dogs are spankier trained with positive reinforcement. There have been studies that show that those dogs who were trained with positive reinforcement are more reliable and responsive than those trained with negative reinforcements. The head collar should gradually move from the dog’s mouth approaching his nose, and eventually hanging over his neck. With time, desensitize the dog through rewarding him for allowing the head collar to hang over his neck. The duration should be increased and then steadily for an eagerly awaited treat. During these stages, a reinforcement should be maintained at a high rate. Records from scientific dog studies reveal that an initial reinforcement ratio of 1:30 can increase a dog’s tolerance on new gear. An average dog trained with this ratio has a duration tolerance of 10 minutes on the 2 nd session with its collar or head collar.

Training with the Head Collar

Once the dog is familiarized with the head collar, desensitize it by designing a daily use routine for the head collar. Regular short walks or playing in the enclosure should be made a routine between where the head collar is to be placed. Sub-acquitting new tools to a dog in familiar environments can considerably reduce risks when exposed to new surrounding. On the other side, adjust the head collar to your dog comfortability. Ensure that the head collar is fitted perfectly between your dog’s neck and muzzle — the right size for the head collar should be of the no fit measure where two fingers fit in. A well fits head collar reduces the pulling force of the dog by 70% when compared to a normal collar. A double-ended leash with a head collar attached to a dog’s normal collar increases flexibility and is easier for dogs.

Gradual Desensitization

  1. A few seconds immediately at the right time: You can safely start the process of desensitization – just put on a head collar on your dog, keeping it on for a moment. It’s best to do this when the dog is calm. And do not forget what is important – the dog should be given a treat immediately! We start the training process with a high-value treat at this stage. Let it be a piece of boiled chicken or your dog’s favorite treat. And it’s best if your dog doesn’t get the opportunity to eat it at another time. It is necessary to establish maximum positive associations with both the head collar and the treat. Try to do this exercise at least 5 times at home or in a place where there is a minimum of distraction. The time of day would be perfect after dinner when all family members are about to go to bed and there is not much fun for the dog outside the window.

  2. Duration: Let’s try to keep the dog’s playful interior time on favorite indoor games for about 5 minutes. It is important to distract the dog so that it does not realize that there is a head collar on its snout and connect the collar’s presence with the most amazing moments of the game. The observations show that the tolerance for dogs to new accessories grows like a snowball, from 5 minutes to 30 minutes already at the first training session. That’s why it’s important to keep the dog at this point in the fun and movement without concentrating on the head collar.

  3. Walk around the house with the dog and first at home then in the yard: Let’s try to clip the leash to the head collar and guide the animal around the house. Make a fun thing of it for the dog and treat it as it is able to execute simple commands and follow your lead. The meaning of this stage is that there is not a neck collar, where the dog will pull out. It’s a head collar that the dog will associate with itself as a driving device by which you can be transported for a treat. We practice this stage until the dog comfortably walks around the house without any resistance about two weeks according to the progressive training schedule. If you see that the dog is completely reluctant to take a small bite, you should take a step back. Let it take the bite and, over time, it will want to follow your next step. Let’s not hurry and each at the training pace. And finally, let’s train our pets a few more days around the backyard or any other pleasant quiet and familiar place. Note that the strength of distraction must grow smoothly. Going to the beach or city center is not worth it, due to our goal to smoothly transfer the dog’s leash to a new place without stress. If the dog tolerates being pulled the whole walk without using a head collar indoors about three weeks, let’s try to do the same thing with a head collar on the street. You’ll notice that during the training the pet “pulls” 2 times less.


Combine With Regular Collar

Using the head collar alongside your dog’s regular collar gives a smoother transition and improves your dog’s comfort. You can start by attaching the head collar and letting the dog wear both collars during calm parts in your house. At this phase, you need to take a lead that has clips at both ends and attach it to the regular collar of your dog. This way, you have a dual control on the dog’s head from its regular collar and on its neck with the second lead. The dual control is necessary for the initial phases, since if the dog tries to get off the head collar you will still have control over its neck with the regular collar or if the dog becomes anxious it can be consoled with its regular collar. In this phase, you can use the collar combination during short training parts either inside your house or in your yard. During training, let your dog perform simple commands such as ‘stay,’ or ‘sit,’ this way your dog will be conned into focusing on the tasks rather than the new feeling. When they comply, give them treats and praises to make them familiar with the new system and also to attach positive reaction to the head collar.

Control most of the leash from the regular collar and repeat the exercise till your dog gets used to the combination. Add more sessions to your schedule regularly and try to walk your dog longer than they used to in order to help them get used to the new system. Let the leash be under full control by the regular collar at first and then reduce the ratio over the following walks. In about two weeks, most dogs will be used to the head collar and it will be possible at this time to remove the regular collar and only walk them with the head collar under control. With this training, dogs show a 60% rate of reduction of their pulling habit after a month, this compared with using the head collar alone.

Short, Positive Training Sessions

When introducing your dog to a head collar, one of the best ways to ensure a successful transition is to use short, positive training sessions to help your dog get used to the new accessory. These training sessions should not take more than 10-15 minutes, and they should be focused on the gradual introduction of the head collar and the use of positive reinforcement. Throughout the training, it would be best for the dog to develop the association of the head collar with positive experiences.

The beginning of each training session should involve putting the head collar on your dog and immediately thinking of a fun activity to divert your dog’s attention from the new accessory. For example, you can start by fetching one of your dog’s favourite toys, such as a ball or tug toy, to prevent them from focusing on the new feeling around the head. It is also important to reward the dog with small, easily digestible, and smelly treats when acting calmly with the collar on the head. The best kind of treats would be tiny bits of sausage, cheese, pasty, liver, or some of the specially designed dog treats. Ideally, you should start with several treats every few seconds and then gradually reduce their frequency of praise except when the dog follows all the commands. At the same time, you should occasionally remind your dog of some of the commands that it already knows, such as sit, heel, and come. Throughout the training, it is essential to maintain a light mood with plenty of praise and affection so that your dog feels safe and secure. At the same time, it is important to gradually increase the difficulty of exercises throughout the training and duration of wearing the head collar. Observational data suggests that dogs that have been introduced to head collars at short, positive sessions adapt to 50% of the newer training tools faster than the dogs introduced to long, positive and not frequent sessions.

Incremental Increase in Usage

In order to smoothly transfer your dog to a head collar as part of a reinforcement schedule, it is quite beneficial to follow the path of gradual introduction. First, one would have to use the new training device during short and simple walks training in a context that is already familiar to the pet – say, around the house or the local park. Start with five minutes at a time, and provide a lot of positive reinforcement for the best possible expectations. To act responsibly during such a short walk is a simple task, so both the owner and the pet will have opportunities to make progress.

After a successful week or several short walks, extend the time to fifteen or twenty minutes per walk, this time picking up a slightly more complex walk: on busier streets or in the park, which becomes crowded on sunny weekends. If a dog has the time to get used to a new collar and lash in familiar conditions before being tried with external stimuli, this reduces the likelihood of a bad situation – the pet perceives the head collar as a routine accessory that cannot be focused on external irritation. Significant improvements in the learning process have been noted in a variety of contexts. The dog eventually needs to be transferred to a head collar and, having become accustomed to itself, can continue to work on switching activities. This whole process should not take more than a month, at which point a dog will be comfortably extended, and it whim wear a heading loader for the duration of any type of walk. During these exercises, dogs reduced pulling to one-fifth of its previous value and frequently obeyed its commands 80% of the time.

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