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Old February 1st, 2009, 06:23 PM
MindysMom MindysMom is offline
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Training Collar or harness

I know there are some dog trainers on this forum and I have a question.

Max, my 4 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has just started puppy class. I am guilty of choosing a class that was convenient for me rather than checking into the training philosophy used. Today's class the trainer was fitting dogs with appropriate training collars. The problem is that since the CKCS breed is susceptible to Syringomyelia many neurologists suggest that these dogs never use a collar for training, and use a harness instead as the collar could do damage to an otherwise asymptomatic and undiagnosed dog with any amount of pressure to the neck or skull. The trainer encouraged me to try a martingdale and nylon training collar on Max. He co-operatively faked (and I know he was faking as there was 0 pressure) choking each time so she reluctantly allowed us to use the harness.

Do you believe it's not possible to train a dog on a harness? He really isn't a puller anyway and requires (so far) direction rather than correction. Truthfully in a serious situation if he didn't obey a command I could always scoop him up as he won't weigh more than 20 lbs full grown. Of course I want him to obey and I'd only do that if there was danger.

I don't want to appear stubborn (even though I am I suppose) and I'm willing to work harder with him if that's what it takes but I'm really not going to put him in a collar. Now I'm afraid that I'm setting a bad example for the class since some of the other pups don't like their collars very much either (The yorkie threw a full out tantrum - she was used to a harness as well) but for Max it's a health issue.

I'm going to forward some info to my trainer regarding SM so she'll know I'm not just a spoiled brat that thinks I know better than her.

Advice??
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Old February 1st, 2009, 07:24 PM
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babymomma babymomma is offline
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I 100 % beleive, and KNOW from experiance that you can indeed train a dog using a Harness. I have a yorkishire terrier, and she wears a collar, but only to hold her tags in case she goes missing. If she is tethered for a walk or training, she is wearing a harness. And for a 9 month old puppy, she is very very well trained and listens to me very well. And she is lead trained, which can be done without the use of a collar or a leash.


It bothers me that there is a yorkie in your class being forced to wear a collar. Yorkies are proned to Tracheal collapsation. Its bad enough when people use regular collars on them, so i really hope it isnt a slip collar or anything that is being used on the poor dog!
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Old February 1st, 2009, 07:42 PM
MindysMom MindysMom is offline
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Max does wear a collar but also only for his tags etc.

I think like me, the Yorkie owners were trying not to come across as unco-operative but I don't expect to see her in a collar next week either.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 07:49 PM
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I hope the dog isnt wearing a collar next week

If you are worried about pulling, Try lead training. Or a Anti-pull harness. It is just as effective as a collar IMO.


Lead training is very very simple. PM me if you want info on how to do so on your own terms and not your trainers.

As for other forms of training, you can still correct a dog without tugging at a collar etc. It can be as simple as giving a firm "ah-ah" ... Of course training tehniques differ from dog to dog. And obviously, colar training is not right for your dog, so i would honestly tryi finding a trainer that suits your needs as well as your dogs. one that will put your dogs personal needs first.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 08:18 PM
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Yes, it is possible to train with a harness--any size dog, actually. Don't let anyone pressure you into using a collar. Just because this trainer uses a collar, doesn't make it right for every dog. Some dogs do fine, some dogs get injured trachea, and definitely a breed with issues such as Cavaliers should never use a collar. You stick to your guns, and use the internet to reseach training techniques. Use the class as a socialization class for your dog, since this is the most important part of it, to prevent fears of strange dogs and strange people. Positive reinforcement with praise and/or treats goes much farther than any collar can.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 09:36 PM
MindysMom MindysMom is offline
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Thanks for the feedback. My husband actually suggested that I was being just stubborn. Can you believe it?

I have no intention of backing down as Max won't be wearing a training collar. Since Max already knows most of what is being taught at puppy class I had already planned on using it as socialization and a chance for him to be able to work with lots of distractions. I'll admit we haven't walked much because the weather has been terribly frigid. Regardless of this he did very well walking on the harness. I know a lovely trainer who Mindy takes agility with. Her puppy classes weren't convenient for me but we will certainly carry on with her after this as her philosophies more closely match what I think Max needs.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 11:54 PM
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IMO the idea of a correction is simply to get the dogs attention and really you can do that either with a harness or collar so I can't see the difference personally. Martingales are good collars and the correction shouldn't be harsh at all just a gentle reminder that you are there, if you really need to do it. You should be able to use either a collar or harness if used properly. Just think they show Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on show leashes so if they can train their dogs on collar you can train yours!!! Being able to work your dog with different things isn't a bad idea either, think one day if your harness breaks, you want to be able to rig a collar and leash up and walk your dog back to safety etc....
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 09:52 AM
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Use what ever you and your dog are more comfortable with. I have had great success training and correcting with the martingale collar on my BC, but if your pup doesnt like the collar, there isnt a need to force it on him, that could make training a negative experience for him, which you definately dont want. and especially since its a health issue, a harness seems like abetter fit. you can still have the same success in training with a harness and a collar. Why dont you try emailing your trainer and just let her know why you dont want to use the collar and tell her you werent trying to be stubborn or anything, and hopefully, she will understand.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 10:37 AM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Tiny dogs should not be on a collar. Harness training is not as easy however will save your dog from serious injuries. It takes time and patience but it does work.

Good luck.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 12:50 PM
MindysMom MindysMom is offline
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Thank you. I did actually e-mail an article with the neurologist recommendations to the trainer as I really don't want her to think I'm simply being stubborn.

I will take this as a lesson to find out the training philosophy prior to signing up for a training course. I realize that training with a harness may be a bit more difficult but CKCS love to please so I think that might balance it out a bit.


What should I be looking for in a harness? I currently have a Holt for both dogs and it seems to work well but being just nylon cord I'm a bit worried about chafing. Max hated the flat nylon buckle one I had - probably had something to do with managing to pinch a squirming puppy every time I tried to buckle it.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 01:07 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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My harness is a type of nylon mesh that is padded. It goes around the neck and one leg through a loop. It fits comfortably around the upper part of the body. A regular pet store does not have this. I went to a pet specialty store and paid 25$. It is costly but she is much happier. No collar is required and there is no chaffing nor rubbing.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 03:11 PM
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I like the one I have for my little dog. it is a kind that just goesunder there two front legs and does up on their back, nothing is even close to his neck. forget what they are called but I found it here in one of our pet stores. most harnesses are the traditional, or the figure 8 kind, but if you look, maybe you can find it? it is really neat, there is a loop on each side, then after you put his front legs in, you put the two loops together over his back, and clip the leash through each of them.. I am sure that made NO sense.. sorry, hard to describe.. if you are interested let me know maybe I can take a picture...? I have a shih tzu cross, so I also am not interested in applying any force whatsoever to his neck.. your pup will thank you for your thoughtfulness! Personally I hope the other people in your class decide to bring a harness.. if that is what they feel comfortable with, then maybe the trainer needs to learn that is can be done well, and should not be forcing collars on people, it his his skills that should be helping people to train their dogs, not the equipment!
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 03:57 PM
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I agree with everyone here.

What kind of "training collar" does your trainer use?

I use a no pull harness on Leia & Han. Works great. The leash clips to the front of the chest on not on top of their back so they don't pull. Clipping to their backs tends to make them want to pull more.

Never use a trainer or training methods on your dog that your not comfortable with. Anyone can call themselves a trainer, there is no real qualifications for it. We have learnt that the hard way and the expensive way gone to many useless and costly trainers that did not work and perhaps even made things worst for us.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 05:44 PM
MindysMom MindysMom is offline
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Thank you so much - I think I can picture it luvmylab. I will keep looking because I'm not 100% happy with the one I have. I found a cool little pet shop on the weekend and I suspect that they might have some variety in harnesses.

The trainer had a variety of collars ranging from choke chains to martingales, and nylon training collars. There were a variety of dogs there from very large to tiny. I know that she tried different collars on each dog to see what seemed to work best for them.

I appreciate your help.
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Old April 4th, 2009, 02:14 AM
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Hi Mindy's mom - I messaged you on your visitor site earlier - I'm not sure if you received a notification or not?

Anyways, you've probably already gotten around this issue, but I can tell you that I raised two cavaliers and trained them both on harnesses. Kosmo (my blen) was my first cavalier and on a collar in the beginning and he choked himself - the vet said to take him off, I did, and he's never been on one since. Faith has never worn a collar in her life - they both walk beautifully.

If you need suggestions on harnesses for a cavalier, let me know and I can give you a whole whack of suggestions
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