Wearing new equipment

This month’s blog is about teaching your dog to wear new equipment, which could mean anything from a collar to a harness or even a muzzle.

Wearing anything new will feel very strange to your dog and this could prove uncomfortable and might even cause anxiety or frustration, so when introducing new item of equipment it’s worth doing it gradually and in a positive way.

With new puppies I always introduce a soft collar first that doesn’t contain a jangly disc and doesn’t have the plastic clips on, this is so it’s as light and as comfy as possible. I start by putting it on either while the puppy is eating or just before as this tends to stop them scratching at it so much. Make sure the collar is not on too loose as they can sometimes get their mouth caught in it as I found out many years ago. For the same reason I always take it off when I put them in the crate or when I’m not with them.

The above will also apply for introducing a harness or a head collar. There are no real quick fixes for pulling, it’s mainly about techniques, but some things fit dogs better than others. Many of my clients have put new things on there dog and just expected that the dog accepts it. I have sometimes found that if it’s not quite the right size it can rub the dog which can be uncomfortable or painful. Or if it’s too loose it can come off which could mean the dog is on the road or runs over to another dog that might not be friendly.

A muzzle might be used by some owners for concerns such as aggression, however sometimes owners use this for other reasons such as a dog that constantly eats things it shouldn’t on walks. Again the correct fitting is vital so the dog accepts this. I find holding treats inside the muzzle at the other end while I sit down and encourage the dog to actively put their nose through willingly. I then slowly build the time up with the dogs nose in before giving the food.

At all costs I avoid chasing the dog and forcing new or currently used equipment on. This will mean a fear response is triggered and avoidance behaviour will always be exhibited on presentation of that object, even if the dog wants to go for a walk. Some people use a clicker to mark the point where the dog puts its head in or step
in with its legs etc.

Take your time and tech it slowly. It will pay dividends later on.

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