Mr. Sam was fitted for a prong collar yesterday. Don’t get all fussy. I know how to use these things and they have stages of use.
It is a black and silver necklace worthy of a dog debutant; a heavy piece of interlacing metal with black plastic over the prongs. I wanted something weighty for this solid block of muscle with a wagging tail. I didn’t have it fitted, didn’t want it fitted. It is loose enough the cinching action is almost nil. Symbolism. And it is prongs out. If another dog bit him on the neck they’d get the rubber covered points.
We have not had one single solitary pulling incident since. Loose leash all the way. He’s still exuberant. He is still thrilled with birds, cats, lizards, and other dogs, but he’s not yanking and lunging. This tells me that he’s used to some sort of training collar while he is walking and when it is not there it is play time.
Consequently, he did not strangle himself lunging and pulling today. No coughing, gagging or gasping. No constant reminders. No standing still waiting for him to get it together. We now have a non-verbal means of communication. Weighty collar = walk on a loose leash, thank you.
Why not other means? I’m not fond of choke chains and he already has some problems with laryngospasm. I don’t want a harness that can strain his back. I’m not a huge fan of gentle leaders. I’ve seen too many dogs rip themselves raw to get it off their faces. I wanted a symbol that does absolutely nothing other than modify his behavior. I know some dogs actually need the prongs down now and then because they have behavioral problems. Sam doesn’t.
Of course, the necklace remains on the sneaky snake leash of doom from the time we come in the door until the time we leave. Yes, that leash, the one that used to wrap around him like a python. Because he is not lunging and being nuts, he only had two minor tangles with no Sam Knot at all.
A collar like this is hopefully temporary. It is only for walking and never on
inside the house. His regular collar is always on. It has his SPCA FOSTER tag.
I’d like to get Sam to the point he doesn’t need this necklace reminder. I like to walk him in public in hopes of meeting an adopter. People think a dog with a big collar like that is a problem. He’s not a problem, he simply needs to learn expectations and sometimes external reminders work very well.
My next move, in a few days, is to put the training collar on and move the lead from it to the nylon collar. In an ideal world he will respond to the weight and not have to have the lead attached. Sneaky foster mother. Then it will really be just a necklace and I can eventually replace it with something else. Maybe a lightly weighted bandana of some sort.
It is important Sam learn to walk without being a powerhouse. It could impact his adoptability. He could hurt his neck and back.
This training is to enhance his quality of life, not to punish him in any way. It is a tool. A reminder. It is one more step on the path to being adopted. Sam is a good dog. He has lapses because he’s learning to be a house dog. He has strengths and one of those is his utter devotion.
I will miss this fuzz butt when he’s placed. But I will celebrate that he is finally home at last.