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Hi. so we had another puppy socialization class (mom wasnt there with her chug and it went well) as usual I came away a bit confused, but it felt wrong to stop the discussion to ask as it was about something else entirely, and the further info would only apply to me. I'm the only one that uses a harness regularly and has a powerful dog.
So, it all centers around collar v. Harness I use a harness as my girl is already big and getting bigger. (40 lbs Apbt-boxer @5 mo) and i am not (120lbs 5'2 in heels with issues with my hands) it's far more effective for control. I also worry about her breathing as she doesnt seem to care about pressure at the neck and would pull till she started coughing if left to her own devices (she seems very game so I have to manage her stubborn streak a lot). i use a light weight mesh harness with 2 rings (pic attached) although I usually only clip to the back ring. she seems comfortable so i basically keep her in it all day. It comes off over night, but that's it. They keep emphasizing collar grabs, and directing me to grab there not her harness. I find this a bit confusing, as if control is the goal, her harness is better and shes more used to responding to pressure on it. Am I doing damage leaving her in it all day, there are no bald patches or sores so I figured it was fine, everyone seemed confused by this though, I guess they assumed I put it on for each walk then took it off? should I be? should I work more with her collar (its just a holder for her tags amt) i don't ever clip her lead to it. It irritates her the way it pulls low and she would walk with the lead in her mouth. she is not crazy about anyone grabbing by her neck either, and the harness is easier to grab from the side

At one point they said somthing about me having pulled her to get her to disengage and move back from another dog getting a treat. (High difficulty for her!) I did give a taut leash for a moment . just enough for her to feel some light pressure, and a firmer call after she ignored the first standard callback (loose leash). she responded to immediately to the former handl, possibly giving the impression of a pull. Trust me if I have to resort to a pull its obvious. She is a thick girl and stuborn, so if I accually pull she'll plant her hind legs and lift or scrunch. If she still doesn't want to go she ll roll over on to her back. Our walks have to be a cooperative effort, and I find she responds well to tiny amounts of leash pressure on her harness in any direction. Is that incorrect? She recommended treats instead, but her tummy is so sensitive that I usually use praise/ love. She got an enthusiastic belly rub and to lick my face for comming back to the corner with me and didnt seem to care about not getting a treat. It was just an odd moment.
 

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My dogs are naked in the house (except for a brief period where my poodle wore a tag collar because he had aspirations of becoming an escape artist and giving us heart attacks). I have a strong preference for harnesses over collars for walking, because collars demonstrably cause injuries far more than harnesses, especially when you have a puller for whatever reason. But I do respect that any harness, even a relatively non-restrictive one like you're using, can limit the range of motion in the shoulder and irritate the delicate armpit area. They're not really designed to be left on all the time.

I think both harness and collar grabs are useful, if you'll be using both tools. Collar grabs have the advantage of giving you more control over her head directly, which can be important in certain situations (eg toddler comes running up to your dog screaming and you want to be darn sure no one can claim your dog's mouth came anywhere near the kid). It also tends to be where other people will grab a dog by default (not that this should happen frequently, but... it does happen), so it's really important to train her that collar grabs are awesome now, especially when she's already showing she doesn't enjoy them. Dr. Ian Dunbar identifies the collar as one of seven 'subliminal bite triggers' that need to be desensitized with puppies, because otherwise they can become stress hot spots for your dog that, worse case scenario, can indeed lead to biting.

I don't see anything wrong with training her to give to leash pressure (look up Silky Leash). You do want to be a little careful with adding leash pressure when she's fixated on something, because that tension can raise the dog's arousal/excitement level and inadvertently cause a stronger reaction. I imagine this is why they suggested using food instead. a verbal cue might be something to work on with this in mind.

As for food, will she accept her kibble (assuming she's kibble fed) in training class? No, it's not super high value for most dogs, but it's still a primary reinforcer that can help increase the overall value of the rewards she gets (including praise and love).
 

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Both collars and harnesses have advantages and disadvantages. I use both, depending on the situation.

Both my dogs wear collars and tags 24/7. For walking, I use a martingale collar, because I don't want anyone slipping loose (been there, done that, have the grey hairs). For nosework, tracking, and parkour I use a harness. Well, actually, three different harnesses, one for each sport. They also have car harnesses, because I don't have a vehicle large enough to put crates in.

The collar grab game is as much about the dog learning that hands coming for them isn't scary as it is about control, although once you have the collar, you can control them. Doing the grab game with both her harness and her collar is a good idea, to get her used to both. If she is sensitive about having her collar grabbed from the side or over her head, try coming in under her chin.

If she is getting amped up and over-aroused on walks, then this self study class Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - EW100: Reducing Overarousal and Reactivity via the Circle Method of Leash Walking might be helpful. I know that a lot of people have done it, and have reported that their dogs respond wonderfully to this method.

If she eats kibble, you can make it higher value for training by adding just a bit of flavor and smell to it. Take a hot dog, cut it into 1/4" to 1/2" dices, spread them out on a plate, and then microwave them until they are dry and crunchy. Put the hot dog bits and a couple or so large handfuls of her kibble into a container, shake to mix, and let it set at least 24 hours before using. The hot dog smell and flavor will permeate the kibble, but you since it's still her regular kible, you shouldn't get the digestive upsets that come with giving her other treats.
 
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