Ella's Lead (picture Heavy)


Honored Member
//"Except...for when the other dog fixates on her, reacts or gives her stinkeye. THAT is the biggest challenge ever; getting her to keep her cool in the face of another dog going off on her. Might never happen...but we try."//

sometimes, our dogs ARE RIGHT.:LOL:
Sometimes our dogs have every right to object to the other dog's behavior.

know what i have sorted out?
when facing other reactive dogs,
THAT is one of my MOST SUCCESSFUL TIMES of all, to prevent a reaction.
i know, go figure.
but, that is when i find calming signals MOST effective.
When i give calming signals to Bud when we are approaching a 'normal' dog,
it's 50-50 if they work.

BUT, when i give doggie calming signals, when we are facing a reactive dog,
then my calming signals must make more sense to Buddy or something, but, that is when they almost never fail me. Apparently, my dog sees my doggie calming signals as being IN proper context then, lol.:ROFLMAO:

also, the video in reply #54 shows 2 dogs reacting, and offers an idea to try.



Honored Member
I will check out the vids tomorrow I am off to bed...(why is there no snoozing icon...we need one!)

On the gentle leader though...see to me, I find those more "dangerous" in certain situations than a prong; although I confess I have never used a gentle leader...and I believe all tools could be dangerous to some degree if used improperly.

But the way Veronica was lunging and pulling full force, like 90 miles an hour straight towards the dog...I was afraid she would snap her neck or get whiplash with a gentle leader. Now since I've never used a gentle leader...I can't say this is true...but I was afraid she could really hurt herself with one, so in my mind...the prong was the gentler, safer option.

At her worst , she would jump, lunge, literally all 4 feel off the ground, hit the end of the leash and with the front ring harness twirl around in mid-air and practically land on top of me. Graceful...:whistle:


Honored Member
Yea Buddy!!! Awesome that he gets the calming signals when most needed!!!

I try, I really do; to use calming signals with Veronica - but I swear she looks at me like "I know you're not a dog. Stop trying to manipulate me". :rolleyes:

And when another dog is going off on her....to get her attention, to even register on her radar I would have to grab her face, physically force her to look at me while she thrashed around trying to see past me...and even then...I think I would be like this annoying fly that was buzzing around her face. Doesn't happen often, but when she is really amped up and goes totally overthreshold...

That is when me and my 2 inch leather collar just hauls her off...the only thing you can do at that time is physically remove her. Other than that it's like trying to convince a hyperactive toddler on a sugar high that they should sit calmly and do their alphabet.


Honored Member
The gentle leader is not for some dogs Missy had one and she was fine as long as their wasn't a dog, but when she saw one she would pull I was so scared she was going to hurt herself I unhooked the leash from the GL(while holding her collar) and clipped her leash on her collar after that I used double leash one on the GL one around her neck. I just stoped using it this summer. With a reactive dog I would not trust using a GL without another leash connected to a harness.


Experienced Member
I feel slightly more educated now. I'd never actually seen a prong collar, just their very name was enough to put me off. Wouldn't surprise me if they were illegal in my state of Aus. (Yeah just googled and 99% sure that they are :D)

And love Veronica's new collar! Suits her :p

Oh and Tigerlilly, don't feel bad. Evie only has one collar (which is only ever actually ON her when we're out with her), well technically two, but we had to buy the second one because she outgrew the first so it doesnt really count. That and her harness and about 3 different leads. One for each car and one for my bag.


Honored Member
//I was so scared she was going to hurt herself //

That was my fear when considering options; and neck/spinal damage can be permanently disabling.

I'm not necessarily advocating a prong collar; and I certainly wouldn't put one on a toy Poodle...

but I can honestly say it didn't hurt Veronica at all. It worked in the beginning because she was like "Oh what's this"?? Then in a few weeks she was like, "Oh this is nothing but a minor annoyance is what this is".

Even with the front ring harness I worried about shoulder damage because of her reaction to dogs; but I had to use something to help physically control her behavior in the time it took to work with her to help her learn to control her behavior, and that seemed like the best option.


Honored Member
If you are interested Evie, here is an article I had read:

While prong collars look really scary; they are in fact (IMO and according to this study) way more benign than the typical and generally widely accepted choke chain.

I would never use a choke chain on a dog for any reason because of the possibility of causing harm. But choke chains are still widely used among people who are competing in professional obedience trials.


Honored Member
Yes, it's darn easy to find tons of links that advocate prong collars, shock collars, hitting dogs, whatever you want to find, you can find links saying "it's fine, doesn't hurt dogs". the link you posted didn't link to the study they describe either.
The prong collar you show looks like it IS also a choke collar, but, i readily admit, i don't see well. But the important thing is, you don't use it now, we all live and learn.

i can post links showing both prong and choke collars do damage a dog's neck, thyroid, windpipe, nerves, etc.

My dog learned about the head-collar, and never ever lunged in it, never. I think because he DID walk in it many times, came to realize *I* have control of his head,
long before he ever encountered another dog while wearing one.
NOw, if Buddy HAD seen a dog he didn't like on his firstmwalk in a GL, or his first moments out of the house, well, maybe he would have lunged then, since Buddy would not yet have learned that if he is in a head halter, *i* am controlling his head, not him.

I think for dogs, learning how their GL works, should be done prior to seeing dogs they could react to. He would still react, if i allowed him to, but, did not lunge in a head-halter, never.

but, i have worked with Buddy so so so much, on "no lunge" training, for so long, he almost never ever lunges now anyway, can't even remember last time Buddy ever lunged...it's over a year ago for sure.

There are also chest harnesses, martindale collars, etc.
Sara the mod is fan of the "Blackdog harness" and has written very positive remarks on it in the past, as has Tx_cowgirl another mod here. Both have reactive dogs, both loved the Blackdog harness. I've never tried one, and due to tons of desensitization efforts, don't really need one now, at this stage of Buddy's rehab, but, way back when, i probably would have liked to try one, but now, i don't need it.
I walk buddy on ordinary neck collar and 6 foot cloth leash, with a knot tied so i hold the knot, so Buddy has consistent amt of leash between him and me,
which i think makes it easier for Bud to know whereabouts he walks. that alone reduced his lunging by like 85%, loose leash training, and knowing he has a short leash, cut it riiiiight down, or maybe it was Buddy ws no longer out in front, scouting for dogs, but walking BESIDE me is why he gave up lunging, not sure why, really..

now, if i am walking Buddy when/where no dogs will be around, i can walk him on his extenda-leash. If we see a dog, i shorten it up.

and if i am going somewhere where there will be dogs, like a vet office, etc, then i put his chest harness on.


Honored Member
//"//"And when another dog is going off on her....to get her attention, to even register on her radar I would have to grab her face, physically force her to look at me while she thrashed around trying to see past me...and even then...I think I would be like this annoying fly that was buzzing around her face. Doesn't happen often, but when she is really amped up and goes totally overthreshold.."//

Yeah, like i've always pointed out, repeatedly, calming signals are useless AFTER the dog has begun to react, and MUST be given PRIOR to reaction.
PRIOR to Veronica getting THAT far into it, further back from dog.
sometimes, we do not have time, dog just appears right there!!:eek:
but most of the time i can SEE another dog coming along, i can see a yard up ahead with a reactive dog behind the fence, etc.
the times you DO have time to prep your dog with calming signals are good times to try them when facing a reactive dog.
but, sometimes we get no warning, WA-LA! it's a dog in our face.:rolleyes:

and i always say, a great thing to train any reactive dog, is a solid "look at me"
and we have to give that cue, regularly to keep it sharp,
and randomly, so dog doesnt' hear "look at me" = "DOG!":ROFLMAO:
ROFL!! I learned THAT one the hard way....:LOL:

To give a calming signal, dog doesn't have to STAY focused on you, dog just looks just to SEE it, and then is free to look away. You have to do it PRIOR to passing the other reactive dog.
I have repeated it, too, more than once, as we approach a yard with a nutzo dog in it, or a reactive dog being walked towards our direction.

The non-stop look at me to prevent reactions, i have to often turn Buddy's back to the 'enemy' dog, or else he peeks over my shoulder at enemy dog:mad: and it's way harder to keep his att'n on me, if Buddy is that far gone for whatever reason.

i ONLY use nonstop "look at me" as last resort,
when all else has failed, and even our best efforts will fail now and then...
THAT's when i use "look at me", the nonstop kind. to me, that one is just a band-aid, last resort kinda thing.


Honored Member
more and more, i wonder, if Buddy HAS developed the ability to follow my calming signals, because of all my other desenstization efforts?
maybe a dog has to be brought down enough notches first, to even be able to follow calming signals?

or, maybe it's just all dogs are unique.

The idea in the book "click to calm" is widely heralded as "the answer" to what to do for dog-aggressive dogs---> teach the dog that the leash being pulled IS the cue for calm behavior.
I never ever ever could teach that concept to MY dog.
tried and tried and tried, and i never ever could get that idea to work for MY dog, although, everyone and everyone recommends that book to those of with d.a. dogs.

i've never ever got ANYONE ever,
to state they could get that idea to work for their dog in real life, have NOT met that person yet. but the author insists it worked for *her* dog, and everyone links to that book as "it". I did however, smile as that animal behaviorist author, finds "The Reason" (something she felt went wrong many many months prior)
when her well raised, well-socialized dog manifested dog-aggression at........
9 months old.:rolleyes:

I also shook my head, as i read the author reflect in her struggle to locate "The Reason" her dog was dog-aggressive, and found ways to explain away, how her dog never ever reacted
til 7 months AFTER the extremely minor event that she blames for ruining her dog for life.
Between the minor event,
and the onset of dog-aggression at 9 mos old,
the dog was fine.
odd. Seems like an event THAT traumatic, would have impacted the dog's behavior before 7 months go by...but nope! Dog was just fine,:D played nicely with dogs all the time, :) no problems.:D
til BAM! AT 9 MONTHS OLD, this very well raised dog went bezerk,:mad: all of the sudden..

but i digress,
On some webboards i belong to for owners of aggressive dogs, i once posted the question, "have any of you ever been able to train your dog, that when you pull his leash, is his 'cue' to be calm? when facing an actual real-life dog?"
NOT ONE PERSON said yes, not a one. Hundreds of ppl with aggressive dogs on these forums i belong to, not one said "yeah, it worked for MY dog" not even one.

i WAS able to use the "Click To Calm" idea get Buddy to be calm when i pulled his leash in his empty yard,:D
or out on the street, when zero dogs were around,:D
i was just never ever able to get it work when an unknown dog WAS around,:(
NEVER. NEVER worked...
although that book is #1 bestseller...................................

maybe it's just all dogs are unique.


Honored Member
I think we have to agree to disagree on this one TL.

I don't advocate prong collars, I prefer NOT to use one, I don't currently use one because I don't need to, but...I would in the future consider using one IF the situation and the individual dog warrented it for reasons of SAFETY.

Not to train my dog to do something that can easily be done with patience and positive reinforcement, like loose leash walking or...really anything.

But if I had a situation where I didn't feel completely confident that I had enough control over a dog that I could guarantee no other animal or person was going to be hurt...then I don't feel that a properly used prong collar is the worst thing in the world. It wouldn't be a long term solution, but a safety net/band aid until a long term solution had time to be developed.

I have no desire, in any way shape or form to hurt a dog, dominate it or bully it into behaving. What I find completely unacceptable would be for someone else's dog or child or person to get injured in any way during my process of "working on the behavior" because I hadn't perfected it yet...and there was an accident. I am also acutely aware of the fact that should my dog bite another dog, jump at a dog and accidentally scratch the hand of the human holding the other dog's leash with it's mouth, or some other such accident...then there's a decent chance that my dog will be confiscated by AC, deemed vicious and euthanized. It ups the stakes on initially ensuring that behavior is first managed, then worked on through desensitization and positive reinforcement.

I actually feel the way you do about prongs about the gentle leader. As I said, I have never used one and cannot speak from experience and I am certain that that is where some of my trepidation comes from...but honestly they scare me.

Anyway... I have Click to Calm. My biggest complaint about that book is that almost all the exercises to desensitize to dogs and teach proper greetings...required you have at your disposal a few neutral, non-reactive dogs...which I didn't.

I admit I didn't try very hard to condition Veronica to a tight leash being a positive thing. I suppose it could be done with enough repetitions...but at least from what I have seen...by the time you feel tightening in the leash...the dog is already pretty well amped up...so that's rather late in the game to try to short circuit the process.

The other difficulty is "real world" vs. implementing a training method. Sometimes in the real world you can't avoid certain situations and your dog gets pushed over threshold...everytime that happens it's self rewarding and that adrenaline dump can be addictive so that is always competing against what you are trying to instill through training.

I do very much agree all dogs are unique. I don't think one particular training method, or tool, or approach will work equally well on all dogs. I really think it needs to be tailored to the individual dog's temperment and personality and learning style.

Btw; I am enjoying our discussion; and I know from reading your posts that you also enjoy a healthy discussion and debate. I think probably as much as we will disagree on, we will agree on just as much!


Honored Member
I walk the shelter dogs on prong collars and choke chains, and the last time I went there I brought a martingale collar so they could all see how it works, and I had a LOT more control over the dog. I wasn't worrying that the dog would slip out of the collar, and I really could really pull the dog away from the other dogs much faster. I'm real short and not strong at all, but I was walking these large dogs that pull, and I even got them to stop pulling after a while by doing circles. =) The prong and choke collars really didn't help out at all.

With Shiloh, I have more control over her when she wears a harness. With Delilah, it is a head collar. I think it really depends on the dog for which you have better control over. Although I don't agree with using a prong collar on dogs at all, I see your point. I still wouldn't use one though because I've actually seen first hand how jerking with a collar can cause a dog to become scared around other dogs.

I just want you to know that I've had more success with different collars. ;)


Honored Member
I actually feel the way you do about prongs about the gentle leader. As I said, I have never used one and cannot speak from experience and I am certain that that is where some of my trepidation comes from...but honestly they scare me.
I kind of understand this comment.

I've never used a head halter either and I would also hesitate to use one.

Most All of the other dogs at obedience class have head halters, except Holly (Holly has a normal back-clipping harness for walks and normal collar for class). When Holly was the worst at getting distracted from heel it was actually commented that I could use a head halter to stop that. I ignored the comment and just worked more of Holly concentrating on me and she is much better now, I really did not want to even try to use a head halter on her (and you can't use head halters in competition anyway ;)).

I understand that head halters are extremely useful for some dogs, especially larger dogs. But I was actually slightly anoyed at the idea of putting a head halter on a puppy for something that could easily be fixed and would not even be an issue at all if we didn't do obedience. And I could not imagine putting a head halter on a small dog who's head isn't even as high as my knee, it could so easily damage her neck. I don't even understand how it would work on such a small dog, how would you stop it pulling the little dogs head up too far unintentionally?
In this situation I felt like a head halter could be just as bad as a choke chain in terms of safety and need.

So, what I'm trying to say is that sometimes head halters seem to get over used and are used on dogs that really don't need it. Somtimes thay seem to be a bit of a "miracle cure" that any one can use to control their dog. But really they could be just as dangerous as a choke chain or prong collar if they are not used properly and if someone wanted to use a head halter they really should go to a trainer to be shown how to use it properly and effectively. But I think people would be less likely to because the head halter is seen as safe and easy.

Basically, I hope I never have to use any of these devices (head halter, choke chain, prong collar, e-collar etc), but certainly some are worse than others (by design and in how the general public may miss-use them).

(and I'm not saying anyone on this site is wrongly using the head halter, I was talking about your average owner who doesn't properly train their dog)


Experienced Member
If you are interested Evie, here is an article I had read:

While prong collars look really scary; they are in fact (IMO and according to this study) way more benign than the typical and generally widely accepted choke chain.

I would never use a choke chain on a dog for any reason because of the possibility of causing harm. But choke chains are still widely used among people who are competing in professional obedience trials.

I would never use a choke chain either, they are one of the most widely accepted forms of dog abuse in my opinion. :) I dont even like having a collar on a dog which is pulling or tied up. And I HATE seeing people walking their dogs on a choke chain and constantly doing that sharp tug backwards to 'slow' the dog down. Choke chains should be illegal like the electric collars are :mad:

People use them in obedience because *most* (I'm sure there must be SOME out there which are not) obedience school are still very old school and use force and intimidation with problem dogs, many also advocate that they do not use 'choke' chains but use 'slip' chains which when pulled tight apparently don't choke (Which is a load of bulls**t in my opinion)

Personally I love the halti-harness as I use it on my brothers husky. Keeping in mind this husky never did obedience or trick training or any sort of training other than sit and down and paw, it's a blessing in disguise when taking her for walks. Like most huskys, she likes to pull.... LOTS and the worst thing with her is that if she gets loose, you wont see her for the rest of the day until she decides to come home as she has no recall what so ever :). She hears you call, she knows it means come, but she wont come back because being off lead is so much more fun than being on lead and she's not silly.

Skye husky used to use a harness, but that was just when she was a puppy and new to the world, once the pulling became a problem (yes i know the harness helped create said problem but like i said - not my dog and it is VERY common for huskies to pull excessively... it's what they're bred to do) they tried walking her on the lead and collar and found that she just used to choke herself from pulling so hard. The vet suggested a halti harness and now you can actually walk her without having your arm pulled out of its sockets. When she pulls, it pulls on the harness which turns her head to where the lead is pulling on. I can only see this being back for the dog if people insist on doing what they do with choke chains and tugging on them in short and sharp intervals... then it would create a whiplash effect. But this way, when Skye pulls, it turns her inwards, so she can no longer move forward - and then she isn't getting rewarded for the pulling behaviour.

But in saying all that I don't use one of Evie because I'm more than happy to train rather than look for a quick fix to any pulling/control problems which we may come along, but they are definitely nicer and more effective than choke chains and as I said, I can't compare them to prong collars as they're illegal here.

I guess I find the halti-harness easy to use and understand because I'm a horse rider and obviously we lead horses by a head collar not a neck collar LOL.


Honored Member
Dlilly - Did you use all cloth martingales or chain martingales? My second row of pictured collars are practically all cloth martingales. I didn't like them for Veronica; I felt like I had little control and when she would see another dog and spaz, she would choke herself (something she actually never did with the prong collar). I wondered about trying a chain martingale, but I never got around to it and her behavior improved; and for those times now when I do need physical control - I find a 1 3/4 - 2 inch flat buckle leather collar gives me more control with Veronica than the cloth martingale.

It is interesting how different collars work differently on different dogs.

Evie - I used the same tool as you with Veronica - I call it a front ring harness because the brand was not halti. I decided to try it when I wasn't pleased with how the prong was working; and I loved it. I felt like I had complete control. When she spazed it would as you said turn her around and I felt like I could haul her off when needed without hurting her. For awhile (when she was really in her reactive phase) I would also attach the leash to her collar as a back up because a couple of time she managed to her her leg out of the harness.

When I say I would use a prong collar again in the future if needed...I am kind of thinking...one day I would like to own a Dogo. I think they are beautiful dogs, and I would like to own a guardian breed and I have never had a BIG dog (I have had a toy dog, a hound and a terrier). When I get another dog I will be in my mid to late 50's. Dogo's are strong, muscular dogs, they tend to be somewhat DA and they weigh @ 100 + pounds. Now we are talking a dog that is almost my weight or more than my weight, and that is stronger than me. Now once the dog is trained there is no problem. During the training process, can I physically control and train this dog with the front ring harness? I wonder. I'll try (if I can find a front ring harness big enough!) ...but as I said, I'm not about to put anyone else or their dog in danger in the process.

Also a little FYI :p the older you get the easier it is to get hurt and the longer it takes to get better. Just recently Veronica saw a rabbit and tried to chase it and I had to restrain her with her leash...and I had to take advil for 3 days because I pulled something in my shoulder and neck. No worries about the dog however...she was unscathed. :cool:


Staff member
I felt the same way you guys did about head collars... until I had a reactive dog that I needed head control over. I will never use a Gentle Leader or Halti, however. I seriously dislike their designs, and the GL, especially gives so little directional and muzzle control, while putting stress on the neck. The Halti is better, but it's so hard to properly fit one, and the tightening mechanism slips, so suddenly the dog can get it's nose out!

All head halters that attach under the chin put alot of stress on the spine, which is why I also use a harness (I have 2 brands of front clip, and several styles of back clip) I use a double ended leash with one end attached to the head halter and one to the harness and then I hold it in such a was so that Oliver's head wont get twisted to far to the side (I do worry about spinal health!). I use a brand of headcollar called Blackdog Training Collar. I also have a Newtrix Head collar, which avoids spinal stress by attaching behind the head. it's BRILLIANT for pulling dogs. It stopped by deaf foster border collie, Buck, from pulling immediately! and he didn't fight it much, even though he's never had anything over his nose before. But that one doesn't give the directional control needed for reactive dogs

In this way, I have complete control over his head and muzzle, and eliminate as much spinal stress as possible :)


Honored Member
Sara, how do those headhalters do with dogs that don't necessarily pull; but bolt?

For example, Veronica has been doing very good with her reactivity; but today a little yorki terrier came out of nowhere. We were seated at a picnic table eating.I saw the dog before Veronica and I tried to get her attention and treat her before she reacted; but the dog stopped and stared at her and she went from sitting at my feet to barking and hitting the end of her leash full force in under 10 seconds.

Of course she kept trying to move forward even thought she hit the end of the leash pretty hard; and I had to use the leash to physically pull her back (again with a good amount of force to get her to actually come back towards me and to not continue advancing upon the Yorki). At this point, all efforts to get her attention, to use treats are useless because she is totally amped up and the only thing she can see or hear is the other dog. But I yanked her back and made her sit and the force of physically yanking her and giving her a very stern command seemed to get through the haze in her brain. If I didn't use physical force to yank her back; then she would have knocked me over and dragged me towards the Yorki.

The irony is...she isn't DA; she's just very reactive. If she had gotten over to the Yorki she wouldn't attack and bite first, ask questions later like a DA dog would do; she wouldn't have known what to do and she would start with some submissive greeting behaviors. Then she would throw her weight around and put her head over the Yorkis neck (or sometimes with little dogs, back when she was allowed to "greet" she would try to smoosh them into the ground and lie on top of them :rolleyes:). But then inevitably comes the stiffening posture and the hackles up and...I don't know what...because she has always been physically removed by this point. Usually it had seemed like the other dog would get upset and then Veronica would become aggressive and my fear was always that the other dog would start something and then Veronica would freak out and finish it.


Staff member
That's the way Oliver is. He is not a puller, except when he's going after another animal or scary person. with the harness and halter both, I have different controls. The way I hold it prevents his head from being twisted too far to the side when he's lunging at something. then I can grab the leash with my other hand so I get individual control of his head and body. This completely prevents him from being able to bite, and prevents any spinal damage his initial powerful lunge might cause.

I used a prong collar on Oliver originally. I used to think the same as you, however he blamed the pain from the collar on the tings he was lunging at, making him 100x worse than when I first got him. (and causing his fear of strangers).

I`ll never use one ever again. I know most of the time it doesn't cause any problems, either behaviourally or physically. But there is a chance. and with the system I use now, there is the least risk of an uncontrolled dog, and the least risk of injury or behavioural problems cropping up.

Here's his "Black Dog Brand" set-up. I have a new leash now (as Buck ate that one) and usually use a rear clip harness now (as I feel the head halter and front clip harness is a bit redundant, now that Oliver walks without pulling (except when he decides to go after something).