Muzzle or Collar?

Last night, we had a puppy training meeting. We haven't had many since getting Cabana, due to the holidays. About a dozen of us gathered outside Costco with our Guide Dog puppies, to catch up and to practice walking through the aisles. Cabana was extremely excited to see all the other dogs, as well as the numerous humans. Even on our walks, she will pull and strain to get over to a passing person, with or without a dog walking alongside--she just loves people and wants to get everyone's attention.

Well, our puppy group leader found Cabana's excitement a bit overboard, as she pulled on her leash, tried to jump on everyone, and barked loudly. We pulled Cabana away from the group so that she could get calmed down, and our puppy group leader said that we should try a head collar on Cabana, to help keep her under control.

A head collar is a collar that goes over the dog's muzzle. It isn't an actual muzzle, which keeps the dog from being able to open its mouth. The head collar just goes around the "nose" and up over the head, with a ring at the bottom to clip on the leash.

Although the head collar is a handy tool and does give the human more control, it's got to be the most pathetic piece of equipment you can put on a dog. It's almost embarrassing!

Poor little Cabana. At the meeting, other raisers called her "feisty", "strong willed", "overly active", "headstrong", and other such adjectives. They don't see this peace-loving, obedient little creature when she's in our house--how sweetly she licks Olive's face (the boxer at my office), how she almost never has an accident, how she ignores our shoes and other off-limit items.

But on our walk today, the head collar did do the trick. Cabana pulled a lot less on her leash, wasn't as excited about passersby (although it was a little rainy so there weren't many passersby), and actually wasn't as excited about anything at all. It's hard to be excited with that weird thing on your face. She sat down a lot and needed to be coaxed to continue walking, maybe her way of rebelling. But I gave her some treats and praised her when she walked well, and there's always room for improvement tomorrow.

Oh, Momma!  – (January 28, 2009 at 1:42 PM)  

I know you have to put those things on them, but it just looks so sad for them. Even looks cruel...But when I've seen the guide dogs out, I try to remember that they are serving a very important service to someone, who needs them to be reliable and do the job they were born to do - guide them through life - sight unseen. But...

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