Collar Issues

In the entire past week, our whole family (okay, it's a small family, but a family nonetheless) has been greatly affected by Loki's new lashing out because of his collar. Fortunately, Yun has been making great progress and today he got the new Lupine martingale collar on Loki twice!!

So what happened?
On Monday, the new Lupine collar and leash arrived, so I wanted to test it out. We took his old collar off and that's when all the trouble began. Loki absolutely refused to let us put any collar on him. He barked, growled, ran away, and bit us whenever we tried to get the collar on. This was new behavior. Although Loki never particularly liked having his collar taken on or off, he certainly never protested this much.

My first instinct was that he was afraid of the collar. One hypothesis was that he may have been choked too much during last Saturday's BBQ while he was on the tie-out. Anyways, I posted my concerns on Dogster's message board and also on a Shiba email list that I belong to. The Shiba owners by and large replied that this was a dominance issue and not a fear one. My breeder also thought it was a dominance issue.
Okay, so I went with the dominance theory.

Dominance training
With my own fear of getting bit and reluctance to hurt Loki, I wasn't about to try a dominance approach. (Well, actually, I did try picking him up by the scruff as a correction, but Loki let out his Shiba scream. After that, I lost all confidence in myself to correct Loki in this way.) Enter Yun. After a very long time with Yun taking a dominance approach to the problem, it was pretty clear that it wasn't working. Yun ended up getting bit quite a few times, the collar was still not on, and on top of that Loki had become fearful and skittish. Great, we're moving backwards.

Gradual desensitization
Since dominance training moved us backwards, we tried gradual desensitization. The next day, I put the collar and leash on the floor in a non-threatening way and put food around it for Loki to eat up. He seemed perfectly fine with that. Then later on, I held the collar and leash in my hand while feeding him. Additionally, over the course of a few days, Loki noticed that he wasn't getting any walks. Finally, it was Yun who made the real progress in the past two days. Yesterday, Yun created a make-shift slip collar with our leash and was able to get that around Loki's neck. He promptly took Loki out for a walk, since this was what Loki really missed. Today, Yun was able to lure Loki through the Lupine collar and slip it on over his head. Yun held out a piece of cardboard (yes, Loki loves cheap destroyable toys like cardboard) in the middle of collar. Loki bit down on the cardboard and then Yun slipped the collar over Loki's head with pretty minimal protest.

Cheers for Yun
I'm so glad that he figured out how to get a collar on Loki with minimal protest. Now we just have to do it often enough so that Loki won't give a second thought about it anymore. And lastly, I have to be brave enough to try getting that collar on Loki too.


masako said...

Hi! I also have a shiba puppy with the same exact issues! Winnie is about 18 weeks old and is having the same problems with collars and harnesses. I'm going to have to purchase a martingale collar to see if that doesn't fix the problem. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel like just completely giving up with Winnie. She's not my first shiba (she's the 5th) but I've never had so many issues... ARGH! She's a pain but she's so darn cute!

I'm also on Dogster - I'll have to look up Loki sometime! :)

Anonymous said...

In the beginning, we were given similar "dominance" advice with our shibas. We had about the same luck you had. We quickly moved to reward-based training, and that made all the difference. The systematic desensitization that you described is definitely the way to go. Much less stressful for everyone involved. Maybe some dogs respond to that dominance stuff, but it certainly has no fans in our house.

IOFisher said...

Unfortunately the Martingale collars do not come in colors that compliment a Shiba Inu. We've owned a "Sesame" color Shiba since 2000, he had a red collar when we got him, and we really would like a turquoise collar that accents his beautiful coloring.

Anonymous said...

It is rather interesting for me to read this article. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

RubiHawker said...

@IOFisher try I have a greyhound and a shiba, both I use martingales on. Etsy has hundreds upon hundreds of handmade excellent quality options for great prices. It is also useful to be able to communicate with the designer first hand and as for any custom sizes, adjustments and materials!

Maha said...

My 1 year old Shiba Inu will only walk when I put a ruffwear harness and use a retractable leash with it. i tried putting a collar on him but he get's combative and pulls on it hard moving backwards , the result of this struggle is him wiggling out of the collar, which is totally unacceptable. I cannot trust to walk him on a collar.I was hoping if you can give me an advice on how to walk him with a collar instead of a harness, and without him wiggling out of it on a street, my worst nightmare, as a puppy he has escaped 3 times in a park out of his harness and it was very traumatic. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.Thanks

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