Sens-ation/Sens-able Harnesses

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Postby PetieMarie22 » March 19th, 2010, 3:30 pm

I was listening to two people in class talk about them. One girl who has a pug, said her dog walks great in it. She loves it. He doesn't pull so much and he is more calm. The other girl, who I assume has assorted kinds of dogs, said she heard a dog can hurt his neck badly if they pull too hard or try to fight against the harness.
Does anyone have opinions on these harnesses?
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » March 19th, 2010, 3:34 pm

The Sensation and Sensable harnesses are just front clip harnesses - I don't think there's any way a dog could injure it's neck. Maybe she was thinking of a Halti or Gentle Leader head collar?

I've tried one of the sensible or sensation ones (can't remember which) and didn't like it. Some people swear by them though. It just annoyed me because if Inara wasn't right beside me, every time she stepped forward the leash would swing and pull. And if she walks right beside me, why would I need a no-pull harness like that? So yeah, two thumbs down for me!
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Postby Hundilein » March 19th, 2010, 3:47 pm

I use one sometimes with Renee, and this week I borrowed hers for a pit bull at the shelter who was acting like a total nutcase on a slip lead. The results with the shelter dog were particularly dramatic. She went from yanking me all over the place to walking on a loose leash like a dream.

I find that the harness gives a lot of people enough control that they can work on loose leash walking without feeling like their dogs are going to knock them down. Some dogs do learn to pull in them, and I think it's better to think of the harness as a management tool to use while you work on training, rather than a solution in and of itself. Of course, I think that about most equipment :wink:
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Postby tiva » March 20th, 2010, 11:40 am

I've used one for years, and I like it a lot. Because my escape artist can wiggle out of them if he really wants something, I back it up with a second collar or a gentle leader. In regular situations, I walk Vanya on the sensible harness, attached to my waist-belt/bag. The sensible has a backup connection to his collar or gentle leader (without the nose-loop on). When another dog appears in the distance, I clip a second leash onto the GL and slip the nose loop over Vanya's nose, for a little extra control of his muzzle if need be. (I also practice doing this at random moments, so Vanya doesn't learn to associate the GL's nose loop with stressful situations--I just want him to think that the nose loop predicts cheese, not a loose dog charging up to us).
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Postby airwalk » March 20th, 2010, 12:11 pm

Sarah I'm with you. Most equipment is a management tool to use while moving to loose leash walking; however, I have reached the point that if a harness or Canny is all that is needed for a dog to stay in its home versus the shelter...use it please! We have had excellent results with front clip harnesses, Canny collars and sporn harnesses, depending on the dog and the situation.
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Postby Hundilein » March 20th, 2010, 12:54 pm

airwalk wrote:I have reached the point that if a harness or Canny is all that is needed for a dog to stay in its home versus the shelter...use it please!

Oh, absolutely! I just find that some dogs will learn to pull in the harness if training is not done. Though often reducing the pulling improves the relationship between dog and owner overall enough that they can put up with a bit of pulling that may return eventually.
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Postby Malli » March 20th, 2010, 1:50 pm

I kind of agree. Whatever works to help the relationship between the dog and the people involved, but if it's my dog I'd prefer the dog just behave without equipment.
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Postby airwalk » March 21st, 2010, 11:28 am

Yep Malli, me too. With my dogs, my goal is loose leash on a flat collar...well behaved but it is always surprising to me how many people won't make the commitment to get there. So instead of working on it, the dog ends up in the back yard because they've stopped walking it because the dog pulls too hard.

Under those circumstances...better a management tool, a walk and relationship building.
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Postby Malli » March 21st, 2010, 7:21 pm

that said, we do utilize a prong collar :smileUp:
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Postby Ino » March 21st, 2010, 8:01 pm

I tried some no-pull harness from Walmart and it worked for about a week, until Ino learned that if he walked on his tippy-toes, he could defeat it. Next, we opted to try the Gentle Leader Easywalk harness. It worked for a month or 2 but then he realized that if he walked slightly crooked- he could defeat that one too :rolleyes2: !! Smart little booger made me realize investing in harnesses wasn't going to get us anywhere. We still need work from time to time when distractions occur with the heel command- but he is much easier to handle now. I use a cuz ball (treats did not motivate him as much as the cuz)to motivate him to heel and it works wonders for him. It just needs to be one he has not killed the squeaker on yet.
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 21st, 2010, 9:30 pm

I've never heard of a dog hurting itself on a front-clip style harness. I use the Premier Easy Walk harnesses (because I can get them uber-cheap)...and I love them. Sawyer uses one everytime he goes out with John (he's John's Service Dog)...because he pulls a tiny bit at times, and he'll cough and gag if he pulls on his buckle collar. So he wears one a lot...and it's very comfy for him.
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Postby PetieMarie22 » March 22nd, 2010, 9:26 am

Malli wrote:that said, we do utilize a prong collar :smileUp:


So prong collars are ok? I didn't like the looks of it when my boyfriend started using one on Petie, but I would use it with a leash when walking her. I would un hook from the collar and re hook to the prong if I saw something coming on the path that made me think she was going to pull. It worked, I started to like it. But then I saw a dog training show that was totally bashing the prong collar, saying it could damage the dogs wind pipe.

I guess this is one of the things about dog ownership and training. One person says this is how you do it, then another person says "That is cruel to do to a dog!"
:|

Thanks for all the good info on harnesses!
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 22nd, 2010, 9:38 am

PetieMarie22 wrote:
Malli wrote:that said, we do utilize a prong collar :smileUp:


So prong collars are ok? I didn't like the looks of it when my boyfriend started using one on Petie, but I would use it with a leash when walking her. I would un hook from the collar and re hook to the prong if I saw something coming on the path that made me think she was going to pull. It worked, I started to like it. But then I saw a dog training show that was totally bashing the prong collar, saying it could damage the dogs wind pipe.

I guess this is one of the things about dog ownership and training. One person says this is how you do it, then another person says "That is cruel to do to a dog!"
:|

Thanks for all the good info on harnesses!


It depends on how you want to train. I personally don't use physical corrections...so I don't use a prong collar. If you decide to use an aversive collar on a dog...the prong is the better bet than a choke/chain collar...as that can really damage the windpipe. The prong collar gives the dog the dog an idea of what NOT to do (don't pull because it'll hurt/be uncomfortable)...but it's still up to YOU to teach the dog what is appropriate, just like any other piece of training equipment...(harness, head halter, choke chain, etc)

I don't use a lot of equipment on my dogs...but when I do, I use the Easy Walk harness, or a head halter. My guys are usually just wearing a buckle collar....and usually not attached to a leash when I'm training. ;) That's my training style and philosophy...others have different ideas. ;)
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Postby Malli » March 22nd, 2010, 3:24 pm

PetieMarie22 wrote:
Malli wrote:that said, we do utilize a prong collar :smileUp:


So prong collars are ok? I didn't like the looks of it when my boyfriend started using one on Petie, but I would use it with a leash when walking her. I would un hook from the collar and re hook to the prong if I saw something coming on the path that made me think she was going to pull. It worked, I started to like it. But then I saw a dog training show that was totally bashing the prong collar, saying it could damage the dogs wind pipe.

I guess this is one of the things about dog ownership and training. One person says this is how you do it, then another person says "That is cruel to do to a dog!"
:|

Thanks for all the good info on harnesses!


I use a prong(if you use one, you have to learn how to correctly give an appropriate strength correction, otherwise you could potentially(though unlikely) hurt your dog or have it not work). I can't imagine it being able to do more damage to a dog's trachea then a flat (if the dog pulls on it) or traditional choke, particularly because the amount of force needed for an appropriate correction is quite minimal. I used other training collars on Oscar for 5 years with corrections and never got a decent response. I hated walking him and used to get really angry, frustrated, and nervous(not being able to control him all that well). I can control his behavior on the prong(he's been known recently to take a lunge and bark at another dog who's done it first, when on his flat collar), and I enjoy walking with him again, that makes it worth it to me.
I'd prefer not to use any negative methods in training with my dog. But either I'm not good enough in telling my dog what I want and convincing him to do it, or he just doesn't listen with only positive methods.

different strokes for different folks and for different dogs, if you ask me :|
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Postby mnp13 » March 22nd, 2010, 4:10 pm

PetieMarie22 wrote:So prong collars are ok? I didn't like the looks of it when my boyfriend started using one on Petie, but I would use it with a leash when walking her. I would un hook from the collar and re hook to the prong if I saw something coming on the path that made me think she was going to pull. It worked, I started to like it.

Prong collars are certainly "ok." When you swap back and forth between collars you are also teaching her to not be collar smart which in the long run will help you wean her off the collar.

But then I saw a dog training show that was totally bashing the prong collar, saying it could damage the dogs wind pipe.

Consider the source... What evidence did they have? The mechanics of the prong collar, when properly used, are designed specifically to help avoid crushing injury to the neck/wind pipe. The same can not be said for slip collars (of any kind)

I guess this is one of the things about dog ownership and training. One person says this is how you do it, then another person says "That is cruel to do to a dog!"

Yup. Welcome to the world of dog training. :rolleyes2:

Overall, I'm just not big on harnesses - head or body. I do agree with Diana that if it's going to keep a dog in it's home then by all means, use it. But in the realm of training, I don't use either in my classes, and I take them off of dogs that are in my classes. All of the dogs in my Brats class start in flat buckle collars and then we adjust from there. Out of 12 dogs, half have ended the class in their flat buckle collar.
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Postby PetieMarie22 » March 23rd, 2010, 9:48 am

I think I'm going to stick with the prong collar/buckle collar combo for our trail walks. Plus I read Michelle's "15 minutes to manners on leash" and I am anxious to try that method. Thanks everyone for all the good info/advice!!
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Postby maberi » March 23rd, 2010, 10:23 am

I use an easy walk on Kayden and a prong on Earl

Loose leash walking is an interesting concept because I think it means a little something different depending on who you talk to. Some people want their dogs walking in the formal heel position, others don't need that but want a nice slack leash and others don't care if their dog is on the end of a 6 ft leash as long as they aren't pulling too hard.

Loose leash walking just isn't a natural behavior for dogs and the fact that it can and often does (depending on the situation) mean so many different things, can make it all the more confusing for the dog. Outside of any tool you use for management or training, I think the most important thing you can do to help you and your dog is stay consistent in what you are asking.
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Postby maberi » March 23rd, 2010, 10:55 am

PetieMarie22 wrote:I think I'm going to stick with the prong collar/buckle collar combo for our trail walks. Plus I read Michelle's "15 minutes to manners on leash" and I am anxious to try that method. Thanks everyone for all the good info/advice!!


Michelle's method described does work but it works because you are giving the dog a pretty good correction for being out of position. It isn't something that will cure loose leash walking in 15 minutes. After the 15 minute session you may have a dog walking nicely next to you because they are trying to avoid that correction but you have not generalized the behavior and you can't expect your dog to continue that nice heel when distractions enter the picture (walking on trails, seeing other dogs, etc..). If you choose that method, just like anything else you will need to continue to correct your dog for being out of position in other situations.
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Postby mnp13 » March 23rd, 2010, 11:23 am

maberi wrote:
PetieMarie22 wrote:I think I'm going to stick with the prong collar/buckle collar combo for our trail walks. Plus I read Michelle's "15 minutes to manners on leash" and I am anxious to try that method. Thanks everyone for all the good info/advice!!


Michelle's method described does work but it works because you are giving the dog a pretty good correction for being out of position. It isn't something that will cure loose leash walking in 15 minutes. After the 15 minute session you may have a dog walking nicely next to you because they are trying to avoid that correction but you have not generalized the behavior and you can't expect your dog to continue that nice heel when distractions enter the picture (walking on trails, seeing other dogs, etc..). If you choose that method, just like anything else you will need to continue to correct your dog for being out of position in other situations.


As long as she is being consistent to "herself" it usually works quite well in my experience. My version of loose leash walking is the dog on my left and generally in view of me so they can see where I am and track me. That's all I ask and when I put a prong on my dogs that's what I get (they are collar smart on purpose - because I'm lazy.)
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Postby tiva » March 24th, 2010, 8:37 pm

My perspective: all of these are management tools; a flat collar and leash are just as much management tools as a prong or e-collar. Some management tools (ie, prong, e=collar) use positive punishment to communicate with the dog, by inflicting pain as a form of communication when the dog is NOT doing what we want. The pain ends when the dog does what you want. Other management tools (ie, a head harness or front attachment harness) use negative punishment: they prevent the dog from getting reinforced by pulling, by using the dog's leverage against his efforts to drag you toward whatever he wants at that moment. Of course, harnesses only work to train the dog if you combine them with tons of positive reinforcement when the dog is in the position you like.

Dogs can learn in a lot of different ways. You can teach a dog by rewarding what you want, and you can teach a dog by punishing what you don't want. For many reasons we don't need to get into here, I strongly prefer to teach by rewarding what I want (and removing self-reinforcement from behaviors that I don't want). (If you want to read about my reasons, I go into them here: http://vanyaproject.blogspot.com/2010/02/oct-2009-another-unfortunate-consult.html Essentially, once day when I was being taught through punishment, I finally realized how much stress that was creating, and how much that stress and frustration got in the way of my own learning. So I try not to do it with dogs). Now I teach LLW by giving a ton of varied reinforcements when the dog is doing what I want (loose leash), and then using a front-harness, penalty yards games, or standing like a tree, to remove the self-reinforcement that can come from pulling.

Many people think: well, why not do both? Punish the dog when he does what you don't want, and reward the dog when he does what you do want? Seems like the most communication. But that actually slows learning, lots of research shows.

Another way around this entire equipment debate is simply to realize that we can reframe our own perspective on pulling. Now that I do a lot of dog-sports that require the dog to pull in harness (ie, scootering, ski-jor, canicross, bike-jor), I'm THRILLED whenever my dog will pull. (Of course, now he's suddenly become a champ at heeling when I really want him to pull because I'm getting tired on our runs and could use a little assistance.) With the right equipment, pulling is a joy. Get a good skijor belt for you, a good harness for the dog, a good line with bungee to connect the two of you, and discover what a blast all of you can have. You'll never feel the same about pulling on leash again!
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