A Canny blog

Some Canny thoughts, ideas, tips and other musings from the folks at the dog end of things.

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Today’s dog training professionals are using and recommending positive training techniques, especially rewards instead of punishment, to effectively train today’s companion animals. Think of some supremely trained dogs, military and canine police officers for example, who work alongside their partners to prevent crime and protect others from possible harm. b2ap3_thumbnail_police_dog_training.png

Some may not know that service dogs trained to sniff out bombs or illegal drugs are mostly educated to locate these objects in association with their favorite toy, instead of being rewarded with a tasty treat. This doesn’t mean that training techniques shouldn’t include food as an incentive for good behavior, but it’s important to know the difference between using treats as a bribe or a form of baiting, in expectation of getting them into doing what is expected from them.

For example, wildlife animal removal experts often use food to draw out dangerous animals for capture. This isn’t a training technique, but rather simply using a lure to trap an animal that needs to be relocated rather than destroyed. These trappers aren’t attempting to train an animal, only looking into getting them to perform a short-term behavior for an immediate reward. 

In this light, let’s look at the differences between using positive reinforcement techniques for long-term benefits and how they can be mistaken for baiting or bribery:

LURING VS. REWARDING

First of all, from a training standpoint, we must understand that treats should not only be used sparingly, but also as an incentive that happens after the fact. Let’s take a simple training necessity  like “sit” as an example. If you use a piece of food, held above a dog’s nose while giving the command, you’re luring (or bribing) the dog into performing, rather than teaching them the behavior as associated with the word. 

Instead, you should use a leash, and after giving the command, pull gently up on the collar with the leash while pressing gently on their backside. After many attempts and repetition, along with rewards of praise, the treat should be offered later after the completion of this task once it has been performed successfully. 

A BRIBE OR A REWARD?

Another necessary behavior that every dog should understand is the necessity of them coming when they are called. Though this may seem simple enough, sometimes a stubborn dog won’t be likely to comply. If you offer them food every single time you call them, unless you have a treat on you at all times, they’ll learn on their own the reward may … or may not … exist. 

Depending upon the circumstance or environment, if you need them to come to you for their own safety, this is an essential command that must be obeyed regardless of a food-related reward. It’s better to associate their arrival with affection. When they’re a puppy, you can teach them this important behavior with a treat, but be sure to replace affection and praise to reinforce this behavior with other rewards that aren’t necessarily food-related. 

Using food and treats can be utilized in association with positive reinforcement techniques, but remember, playtime, love and attention go a long way when it comes to rewarding your pet. Your best friend shouldn’t always associate a treat with a positive training experience. 

 

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Occasionally, despite great design and good intention, the Canny Collar won’t work as it is designed to. The good news is that it is often down to any of 5 possible factors that can easily be fixed. 

 

#1 Measuring your dog’s neck incorrectly

The first step to a stress-free walk is to make sure you have the correct size Canny Collar. When measuring your dog’s neck, it is important to bring your measuring tape around your dog’s neck to the back, just behind the ears and not to measure lower down the neck, where your dog’s resident collar would normally sit. The Canny Collar fits higher up where the neck is narrower and will therefore tend to be a smaller fit than a resident collar. This needs to be considered when choosing the right size Canny Collar for your dog, as well as taking a snug measurement to ensure it does not come off during a walk.

If your dog is borderline and his neck measurement falls right between two sizes of Canny Collar, we generally recommend going for the smaller of the two size options. This means there will be slightly less slip line behind your dog’s head which tends to make for a better all round fit.

If you have a pup, it’s important to choose the size of Canny Collar your pup needs at this current time rather than thinking of growing room in the future. Each Canny Collar does have room for adjustment and there is overlap between each size so this is not often a problem anyway.

Whilst your dog’s breed can be a general guideline, measuring your dog’s neck as described above is by far the most failsafe way to ensure you choose the correct size.

 

#2 Not leaving the yellow guider under the muzzle

The final step when fitting your Canny Collar can sometimes be overlooked. As you pull the slip line from under your dog’s chin to place over his nose, it is important to pull it through the yellow plastic guider, to allow this to then sit under your dog’s chin during a walk. This also ensures the slip line will not come off your dog’s nose.

When we have been sent images of dogs wearing their Canny Collar from owners whose dogs are not walking as well as they should, sometimes the yellow guider is seen sitting proudly on top of the dog’s nose! Whilst this may be a funky fashion statement, it won’t help your dog walk as well as he should on the Canny Collar.

 

#3 Attaching the lead to the carabiner clips

This is a big no no! The carabiners included with each Canny Collar are designed exclusively for off lead use only and are not to be attached to a dog lead under any circumstances.

The D-rings at the end of the slip line have been designed to take the weight of a fully grown adult dog and this is where your lead should be attached. The carabiners will not take the strength of a pulling dog and it is highly likely your dog’s weight will snap them if used when walking.

 

#4 Letting out too much lead when walking

Whilst the Canny Collar is designed to allow your dog to walk well on a loose lead, too much lead may allow the slip line to come off your dog’s nose while walking. There is a good explanation here on how to avoid this.

One suggestion would be to apply pressure on the Canny Collar at the start of the walk, then release it just enough so that your dog is free to open his mouth and the lead clip is resting either just above or on top of his shoulder blades. This way, the Canny Collar is loose enough around the muzzle for your dog to walk comfortably unless he strays from his position by your side (at which point you can quickly and easily correct him whilst still maintaining a loose lead) but not so long that the slip line moves towards the end of your dog’s muzzle and falls off. Once in this position, begin your walk and keep your arm relaxed by your side, allowing the Canny Collar to do any corrective work and meaning you can praise your dog vocally when he is walking well by your side.

Letting out too much lead defeats the purpose of the Canny Collar which is to stop your dog pulling out in front and to have him walk nicely by your side. For this reason we don’t recommend that the Canny Collar is used with a flexi or extendable lead.

 

#5 Not releasing the pressure after applying

When your dog is pulling on the lead, your first reaction is to keep pressure applied in the hope that this will stop him pulling. When using any type of head collar, the temptation is to do exactly the same.

But trying to control your dog in this way makes the Canny Collar no more effective than a regular collar and lead. The Canny Collar works using a ‘pressure and release’ system, training your dog to walk on a loose lead by your side as he realises that in this position, he feels no pressure on his nose at all. It is vital that at some point during the walk, your dog realises that the pressure will come off as a dog will only ever walk well without any pressure applied to either his neck or face. And of course this way, the walk is more enjoyable for your both.

This is the key to using the Canny Collar correctly. Apply gentle pressure when your dog pulls (no yanking) but be sure to release when your momentum then brings you level with him on the walk. If your dog is a persistent puller and you are simply not getting the opportunity to release the pressure, you can find further help here.

 

So there we are, these are the 5 most common reasons why a Canny Collar may not work as intended. Hopefully, armed with this information you will be able to use it as intended and enjoy walking your dog.

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Recent Comments

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