A few days ago, I saw a TV program with an English dog trainer that helped out a ridiculous couple with 2 big Lab/Dane crosses.
Outside of them being spoiled beyond belief..well beyond the point of any excess I have ever seen (Or indulged in myself) these dogs had a dog aggression problem. The couple actually had to RENT a field to walk their dogs in so they would be isolated from all other dogs. The field was only a block from their house, but they had to drive the dogs there to avoid contact with other houses with dogs.
Some of you have seen my male beagle.. and he has just this behavioral issue, and often redirects at my elderly female. I don't rent a field, but I do leave him at the vet when going to rallies or any other place where there will be known contact with other dogs. He camps with me on my own, when I can devote time to keeping him contained and under control when confronted with other dogs, but this can be quite a bother, not to mention time consuming.
The trainer had the couple fit the dogs with one of THESE, a Gentle Leader Head Collar.
The dogs immediately, and I mean INSTANTANEOUSLY ceased to pitch a fit in the presence of other dogs. Oh yes, they were still upset, I am sure, but they did not fight, pull, attack or even struggle to get at the other dog.
The collar is not a brute force collar.. it uses the technique of directing the dogs head away from the other dog. Controlling the head and direction of the nose creates the restraint, and not force or pain.
"I need to check that out", I says to myself. So, tonite, I stopped at a local big box pet store to look at them. It just so happened they were having an obedience class, and I managed to stumble across it at just the point where the trainer had an owner put one on his aggressive German Shepard's head. Again, with one second of correction, the dog calmed down and ceased the behavior. And it wasn't even a strain correction.. a simple two fingered "Tug" in the right direction was all it took.
This made me rush to the leash section and pick one up. I read the instructions, watched the enclosed DVD and set out to try it on my otherwise adorable guy. He was only mildly irritated by it, but that went away in less than a minute. Off for a walk down the street past several houses with outdoor dogs to try it out. I had the female on another leash.
I got the same reaction. He started to pitch a fit at the first dog, but he ceased with the proper correction, which is simply pulling the lead to redirect his head. He didn't even attempt to go toward the female.. who was oblivious to all the goings on. The next house, the fuss was not as dramatic, and he corrected instantly. By the third house with the WOOFING white shepard.. he kept his head straight without tension, and basically ignored it.. from what I could tell. But he also just ignored my female.
I have seen these collars before, but never investigated them.. they have been around awhile, and they make sense once you understand what they do and HOW they do it.
I have an outing this weekend. Can't wait to try it in the campground. This will make my walking them WAY more pleasant and less time restricted. Not to mention less disruptive to other campers who sit stunned at this little Beagle pitching a fit with a barrage of only squeaks coming from his mouth. And less embarrassing for me. Ever tried to explain to someone that the dog has been debarked? They either never heard of such a thing, think there is something wrong with him, or think you are an ogre for doing so.. they don't wait to hear that YOU did not have that done.. he came that way when I adopted him.
I am hopeful that working with him more with this will solve, or at least minimize the issue. He would have been put down for it had I not come along and had been willing to live with the restrictions. He really is a lover of everyone, and everything else.