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So, Thursday Jameson slipped his collar. We got him a harness. Sunday, he slipped his harness. We're now walking him double-leashed and his martingale will be arriving today. This morning trying to get him out of the house for his morning pee was absolute torture. I couldn't get the harness on him at all. He kept running away from me. I was trying not to chase him around (can't imagine that's helpful). Finally I managed to get ahold of him. I tried to put the chain collar on him that we've been using (because I don't trust the flat collar at all), and he snapped at me! He's never even bared his teeth before! He was fine if I put the chain collar down, but every time I picked it up, he started snapping at it. My husband came to help me. We finally managed to get the harness on him and walked him very, very, quickly with the harness and his flat collar on two leashes, but it was horrible, he was terrified, he bared his teeth every time the chain collar was in sight, and I was basically in tears by the time it was done. I'm terrified to walk him because I don't want him to slip free again, and by the time we get him into something we can somewhat securely take him out in, he's so worked up that he startles much more easily and it's this horrible self-perpetuating cycle. I just don't freaking know what to do, and I get more and more upset every time we have to do this, and I know it's not at all helping with his fear issues that we have to keep going through this several times a day just so we can go out to pee. I'm a step away from just getting wee-wee pads and never taking him outside, but I kind of feel like that's probably not the best solution either. I'm just sick of every attempt at a walk ending with him cowering in fear and trying to get away and me trying not to cry.
 

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Take a deep breath. You are afraid, and he is afraid, and all that fear and anxiety is feeding off itself between all of you. So you have to start putting on some Oscar-worthy performances that you actually aren't afraid and nothing is a big deal.

What I would personally do is this: Make a regular leash into a sort of double slip-lead by putting the clip end through the handle and pulling it tight, then clipping the clip to the leash itself. Does that make sense? Then you still have the clip end as a looped handle, and use the other end as a slip lead that will functionally do the same thing as the choker. Just sit down and play around with the leash like it's no big deal while dispensing super high value treats, then just casually slip the loop over his head, treat generously, and take it off. If that goes well, then just casually stand up and go out in the yard with this arrangement, treat generously, and come back in. If you have two leashes, make two so that you have a backup.

Be sure to introduce him to the martingale slowly, casually, and with tons of treats. You can do it. :)
 

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I found a stray a couple of years ago who's behavior sounds very similar to Jameson and I did basically what sassafras said. I had alot of luck sitting on the floor with a leash and a bucket of treats. I would not look at her, just like I was minding my own business, and when she would approach I would give her a couple of treats and slip a leash around her neck. I also had her wearing a collar all the time, which I don't normally do. You could try getting him leashed and letting him just drag it around the house also, so he gets used to it being there, and when you're ready to go out, you can just pick up the other end.
 

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My pup used to hate having the harness put on her. To make it fun, I smeared peanut butter on my finger and put my hand through the harness. When she started licking, I'd put the harness on, then praise her like crazy.

Also before walking her with the harness on, I first taught her to follow me by smearing peanut butter on a wooden spoon, then while I stood upright I would walk throughout the house and treating her only when she was in a near heel position. After a week I did the exact same thing but with the harness on with a leash attached. To make sure she didn't get bored of the peanut butter, sometimes I'd mix it up and use boiled chicken, steamed white rice, Cheerios, and even cheese.

I personally wouldn't be comfortable using a slip collar or choke chain. Before it came to that, I'd either try another brand of harness or look into a martingale collar. Then again, I'm dealing with a puppy that I've been working with since she was eight weeks old and who has recently turned four months.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well, I've got the martingale now, and I got one that clips on rather than going over his head, so hopefully this will be less traumatic and maybe we can even get to a point where we can go out for a walk without all kinds of emotional trauma for all of us involved. It would be great if we could even go for a walk with just the martingale and not a whole suit of nylon.

Right now I'm working on getting him acclimated to the martingale before we actually need to go out for a walk later today. I've been feeding him bits of cheese through the center of the martingale (like, so he has to put his nose in the loop of the collar to get it), and then I put it on him, gave him cheese, and took it off. I'll keep trying...
 

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Hang in there. This will get better and you're using good technique there with the cheese.

I remember trying to train my old dog to walk nicely. He would try to kill every other dog we saw, and at his size, he was quite capable of it. I discovered he hated dogs when he dislocated my shoulder trying to get at one. That was a very long year and I did cry more than a few times. I promise you, once you're through it, and you will get through, it's totally worth it.
 

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I want you to read this and remember it,

>walked him very, very, quickly with the harness and his flat collar on two leashes, but it was horrible, he was terrified, he bared his teeth every time the chain collar was in sight, and I was basically in tears by the time it was done.
>he was terrified, he bared his teeth every time the chain collar was in sight
>I was basically in tears by the time it was done.

Does this sound healthy for you? or your dog? What does being scared or crying accomplish? If you don't want to walk him, don't walk him. Your dog isn't going to die if he misses a couple days of walking. Take him to pee and end it at that if you are too stressed.
You need to be calm when you are walking your dog. If you are calm, the dog picks up on that and relaxes as well, if a human is frustrated, scared, emotional, the dog will react the same way and from the sound of it, the dog is reacting just like you, he's freaking out and snapping just to control the situation, because the human isn't in control. A dog mirrors the owner.
Relax, you aren't going to get real, lasting results from your dog in a single day. Just remember that and you will stay patient and calm, it's going to get better if you stay consistent and calm. What you are doing with the martingale is the right thing to do, the martingale means good things, but you have to be calm and secure while making the martingale mean good things.

Most importantly, don't take any of his behavior personal, when he snaps he doesn't hate you, he's scared. He wants someone to take control of the situation and tell him that the collar, choker, martingale, whatever is okay and the only way to do that is to be calm.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm definitely aware that my emotional state only makes things worse, and that's why I basically just took him for a quick walk so he could pee and then I could come back in and gather myself. I know it's not personal, and that he was snapping at the collar and not at me, but it's hard not to get frustrated or upset by it, especially when I feel like every time he has to go out to use the bathroom we both just end up stressed out and upset. It wasn't so bad before he started slipping out of his collar and harness, but now I feel like it's a safety issue, and I think that's what's really upsetting me - I don't need him to climb in my lap and cuddle (although it would be nice), but I do need him to be safe.

We actually met with a dog trainer today who has dealt with fearful dogs like this before. She said a lot of things that made a lot of sense and seemed to know what she was doing - she didn't try more with him than just putting a leash on him and petting him, basically, but by the time she left he did seem calmer. So, feeling like we're getting help and moving in a positive direction is helping me a lot with my own anxieties and helping me feel much more encouraged than before. Right now both dogs are napping and calm, and I'm hoping we can go for a more relaxed walk in a little while. I'll keep working on the martingale with him in the meantime.


I want you to read this and remember it,

>walked him very, very, quickly with the harness and his flat collar on two leashes, but it was horrible, he was terrified, he bared his teeth every time the chain collar was in sight, and I was basically in tears by the time it was done.
>he was terrified, he bared his teeth every time the chain collar was in sight
>I was basically in tears by the time it was done.

Does this sound healthy for you? or your dog? What does being scared or crying accomplish? If you don't want to walk him, don't walk him. Your dog isn't going to die if he misses a couple days of walking. Take him to pee and end it at that if you are too stressed.
You need to be calm when you are walking your dog. If you are calm, the dog picks up on that and relaxes as well, if a human is frustrated, scared, emotional, the dog will react the same way and from the sound of it, the dog is reacting just like you, he's freaking out and snapping just to control the situation, because the human isn't in control. A dog mirrors the owner.
Relax, you aren't going to get real, lasting results from your dog in a single day. Just remember that and you will stay patient and calm, it's going to get better if you stay consistent and calm. What you are doing with the martingale is the right thing to do, the martingale means good things, but you have to be calm and secure while making the martingale mean good things.

Most importantly, don't take any of his behavior personal, when he snaps he doesn't hate you, he's scared. He wants someone to take control of the situation and tell him that the collar, choker, martingale, whatever is okay and the only way to do that is to be calm.
 

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We actually met with a dog trainer today who has dealt with fearful dogs like this before. She said a lot of things that made a lot of sense and seemed to know what she was doing - she didn't try more with him than just putting a leash on him and petting him, basically, but by the time she left he did seem calmer. So, feeling like we're getting help and moving in a positive direction is helping me a lot with my own anxieties and helping me feel much more encouraged than before. Right now both dogs are napping and calm, and I'm hoping we can go for a more relaxed walk in a little while. I'll keep working on the martingale with him in the meantime.
I think we get the dog we need, not necessarily the dog we want. Because of Muggsy, I can look confident and calm even when I'm a ball of worry and fear. Trust me, that comes in handy every day. You'll get there.
 

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What kind of harness did you try? We had the same issue with our dog when she was a puppy. If she got scared, she would back right out of the harness. The Easy Walk harness, that hooks in front, stopped this. And you've got to be careful that it's a good fit.
 
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