In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

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Herman
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In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Herman » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:02 pm

My family includes a 13lbs rescue dog named Krissy, who was saved from a hoarder. She's a fear-biter who's been with us for nearly 3yrs now. I've tried to help with her anxiety around anyone who's not me and have little to show It. A veterinarian told me that Krissy is a good natured dog who's developed anxiety issues over at least 7 years with a hoarder, if not more, and multiple failed adoptions after her rescue. The aforementioned veterinarian suggested in-home use of a Gentle Leader head harness w/o the leash to help calm and focus her. Feedback?
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jacksdad
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by jacksdad » Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:38 pm

I would strongly urge against this.

In a nutshell, this will do nothing about the anxiety. the vet would have been more helpful to suggest anti anxiety medication than to wear a head collar.

Gentle leader/head collars type devices can be very aversive if not used right and you do not condition the dog to wearing something on their face. If you just "slap" on one a dog, most dogs will try and paw it off. Others will become physically subdued because they are trying to keep "this thing" on their face from moving around and irritating them. Which to some people will give the false impression the dog is "doing better" because "look how calm the dog is".

In order to provide you with some alternatives that are known and proven to help, can you provide some additional information?

Clarify age of dog
what exactly causes your dog to be fearful
describe a situation where your dog tries to bit
what have you tried to date to resolve this

Lets start there and see if we can't give you something to work with.

Herman
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Herman » Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:00 pm

[/quote]In order to provide you with some alternatives that are known and proven to help, can you provide some additional information?

Clarify age of dog
what exactly causes your dog to be fearful
describe a situation where your dog tries to bit
what have you tried to date to resolve this

Lets start there and see if we can't give you something to work with.[/quote] Approximately 11-13 years old
Cause is unknown to me
She will bite when she's unsure
I've attempted to calm her with treats and hired a behaviorist. Ps. Due to medical reasons I've recently lost much of my mobility (hopefully temporary)
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Nettle
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Nettle » Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:31 pm

Thank you - however we need more information.

Please give instances of when your dog appears fearful, and some examples of when she bites, as in what happened immediately before, where did she bite you, did she draw blood, what happened afterwards.

What did the behaviourist say?

Given that you have mobility problems, who exercises the dog, how and when?
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Herman
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Herman » Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:14 pm

Krissy hasn't bitten me, thankfully. She's also not drawn blood.
She bit a friend when he came to my home to help with my computer. She was fine, social even, until my friend moved to get a tool, at which point she bit.

On another bite happened when a family member entered my home to get something for me while I was outside.

As for excersice, until my recent health issue she went on short walks. Now we play fetch with her favorite toy inside the home.

The behaviorist said that Krissy is by nature a sweet dog, which is surprising after she attacked him almost immediately. Within minutes the behaviorist had her calm and peaceful. The theory is, she's been through multiple failed adoptions after being rescued and is uncomfortable with new situations and specifically with new people.
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jacksdad
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by jacksdad » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:49 am

Herman wrote:Cause is unknown to me
sorry I wasn't more clear. root cause, may never be known and that is ok. we aren't without options if we don't know root (aka original reason) your dog is fearful.

What i was looking for is what Nettle said, what happens just before your dog behaves in a fearful manner?

X happens, dog does Y (Y = bark, growl, advance, retreat, bit, shows teeth, runs away, hides etc, etc)

if we can identify X, we have something to work with. we can prevent X from happening, we can deal with X for our dogs. We can counter condition our dog to X, meaning change their association towards X. We can teach an alternate response to X.
Herman wrote:Krissy hasn't bitten me, thankfully. She's also not drawn blood.
She bit a friend when he came to my home to help with my computer. She was fine, social even, until my friend moved to get a tool, at which point she bit.

On another bite happened when a family member entered my home to get something for me while I was outside.
What you need to do first is get very specific as to what happened right before your dog bit, then give it a 110% effort to make sure whatever triggered the bit never happens again. that is step one. keep the dog feeling safe by making sure whatever cause your dog to feel the need to bit, to not happen again. This also prevents escalation and for the biting from becoming the default go to response since nothing else is working to stop whatever is making your dog feel like biting.
Herman wrote:The behaviorist said that Krissy is by nature a sweet dog, which is surprising after she attacked him almost immediately. Within minutes the behaviorist had her calm and peaceful. The theory is, she's been through multiple failed adoptions after being rescued and is uncomfortable with new situations and specifically with new people.
I can absolutely believe this. many fearful dogs that display concerning behavior are sweet dogs at heart, but are overwhelmed and not feeling safe.

So, lets go with the theory presented for now. how would we help your dog moving forward.

1. keep her feeling safe. don't put her into situations that make her uncomfortable.
2. do not ask her to deal with new people

now, you are probably thinking "how will that help, can't avoid life forever".... and you would be correct. long term this isn't a solution. BUT it is a starting place. the purpose of which is to give your dog a break, give you a break. Then carefully you start introducing your dog to new situations in small chunks that your dog can deal with, then take a break, then go back to it.

We can control a lot more than we think if we try. We can control duration, how long your dog has to deal with something new. We can control how close your dog gets to something new. And we can influence the experience through the use of food making scary predict something good happening, which changes your dogs feeling/association to scary.

For example, new people. my advice is generally to NOT start out with absolute strangers, but with people your dog knows and likes. Practice what you want your dog to do when encountering people. do you want your dog to sit next to you in a "heel" when a unknown person comes close? do you want your dog to sit behind you, move the other side of you, look at you etc. train that, make it highly rewarding to do. then when your dog is good at the skill, start over with someone who your dog knows, but not well. then when your dog is good at that level, find someone your dog has not met and start over etc.

while doing that, when out on walks you can always provide a bit of food to your dog every time your dog looks at or notices, or is aware of complete strangers in the area. this will work on the general feeling of people make good things happen.

who gets to come up to your dog? in general, no matter where you are in the training, complete strangers do not need to randomly come up any old time they want and try and pet your dog. there is no value to this. if your dog will not have to deal with the person again in their life, there is no value to a up close interaction. My advice, just say your dog is training and you would rather people not come up close.

until your dog can deal with people who will be in her life on a regular bases without resorting to a bite, perfect stranger not even a concern as far as coming in close or trying to pet etc.

So that is just one example of how I would proceed.

If you have other more specific examples of a X happens and my dog does Y and I would rather she didn't do Y, we can give some more examples of how to counter condition, train an alternate behavior, or offer suggestion for how to keep her feeling safe. those options will do more than wearing a gentle leader around the house.

The question to ask is how will wearing a Gentle Leader make my dog feel safe, change associations from "bad" to "good" towards scary, and how does it give her skills for dealing with scary?

Herman
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Herman » Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:39 am

What i was looking for is what Nettle said, what happens just before your dog behaves in a fearful manner?

X happens, dog does Y (Y = bark, growl, advance, retreat, bit, shows teeth, runs away, hides etc, etc)

if we can identify X, we have something to work with. we can prevent X from happening, we can deal with X for our dogs. We can counter condition our dog to X, meaning change their association towards X. We can teach an alternate response to X.
I understand now, thanks for being so patient with me. If Krissy has met a person but is still uncomfortable around them, she begins barking, hackles raised. She then runs towards the person, stopping just short of them, continuing to bark. If The person makes any sudden movement forward she growls, if that doesn't work, she bites. If I'm there at the moment, she often runs behind me, continuing to bark.

If krissy hasn't met someone, she growls and barks while moving directly to a bite.
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Nettle
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Nettle » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:38 am

Thank you for the clarifying information.

The foundation for this is a long one - how long depends on the dog. She is very afraid, and as she can't run away, she runs towards, looking threatening and trying to drive away the thing/person she fears.

Your job is to help her feel safe by keeping her away from those things she fears. This is not for ever but it is how you change her mindset from thinking she has to deal with this herself to trusting you to deal with it.

Initially, when strangers come to the house, see that she is shut away from them behind a door or gate AND that she has something nice to do, eg a stuffed kong, while they are there. The strangers must ignore her - no eye contact, no words. When she is out and strangers approach, is she on-lead? If not, put her on-lead as soon as you see the stranger, rewarding her well for coming back so she doesn't think she always comes back for nuthin'. Then get a good distance between her and the stranger, with your body between. When she is calm, reward her with really yummy treats. This, over time, counter-conditions her reaction to strangers from 'here comes a stranger who might hurt me so I have to hurt them harder first' to 'here comes a stranger but my human will take me to a safe place and then reward me'.

There is a load more to this, but these are the first steps and I am trying not to overwhelm you. Jacksdad and others here have so much experience with scaredy dogs. Incidentally there is a very good book called Scaredy Dog by Ali Brown that you might find worth reading. Stay with us - we are good at this and can take you every step of the way.
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Herman
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Herman » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:55 pm

Thank you for the help! I love Krissy and will do what it takes to help her. :D
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Herman
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Herman » Sat May 02, 2015 8:35 am

Krissy is now with The Lord. She is finally at peace. Multiple veterinarians believed that she had developed irreversible and untreatable dementia. Her behavior was one of multiple symptoms of the real issue. She was sick and I failed to recognize what was really happening to her. Thank you all for your kind advice. Blessings
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by JudyN » Sat May 02, 2015 1:21 pm

I'm so sorry to hear about Krissy. At least she was in a home where she was very much loved after her rough start in life. ((((Hugs))))
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jacksdad
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by jacksdad » Mon May 04, 2015 12:48 pm

Herman wrote: She was sick and I failed to recognize what was really happening to her.
do not blame your self. I know all to well how easy it is to, but don't. she was VERY lucky to have you looking out for her and you undoubtedly did the best you could with the info you had to work with.

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Nettle
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Nettle » Tue May 05, 2015 2:55 am

Sorry for your sad news but how lovely for Krissy to have found you.

They come to teach us, then they leave us. She has taught you much that will be with you all your life. What a wonderful gift.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Herman
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Re: In-Home use of a Gentle Leader head collar w/o leash

Post by Herman » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:25 am

Thank you all. I still cry. I was ready to do anything in my power to help her. I finally accepted the reality of her condition after hearing from both her regular vet and a second opinion from another vet who had seen her also. I loved her with all my heart. We had several years together that I'll always be grateful for.
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