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Canine Behavior/Restrictive device ?


I am trying to help a neighbor keep her dog. My neighbor, an older woman, quite frail and uses a wheelchair. She has an 8 yr old Basset hound / Dachshund mix a very sweet but very strong dog with little impulse control. The problem is on more than one occasion her dog while trying to chase after something or other has pulled her out of her wheelchair sending her to the hospital. Now her doctor is strongly suggesting she surrender her dog.
 I thought if there was some type of harness or devise of some kind that would restrict the dogs ability to suddenly run or jerk (maybe I’m crazy but I’m seeing kind of a K-9 version of shackles on humans.)  Or is there something else she could use that would restrict her dogs freedom of movement  Something that can be used just while outside for a short walk or potty time, not inside or for any length of time. We would never allow her dog (Baby) to suffer.
 Thank You

Thank you for your question and your concern for your neighbor.

There are a couple of options - but they will not make the dog weaker and so will still require that the dog be taught how to walk nicely on a leash next to the wheelchair and have a really strong/solid Leave It command installed so that the owner can interrupt the totally natural and hardwired instinct to chase after stuff.

Here are the downsides to the breeds that make up this dog:
Basset Hounds are scent hounds and once they pick up a scent, it's nearly impossible to take them off it until they've located the source and investigated thoroughly (or eaten it if it's at all possibly something edible....)
Dachshunds were bred for rodent patrol. They also have a very strong instinct to chase after, dig after and go scenting for small moving critters.

The pluses of these breeds is their loyalty to their people and their love and sociablity. But they are both very strong-willed breeds with single-track minds when they catch scent/sight of something they feel an urgent need to engage with.

So, even putting on collars/harnesses designed specifically to reduce pulling, a truly determined dog can still pull - hard. This is why even with the collar/harness options below, this dog will still require proper training for walking on leash as well as learning a really, really solid Leave It command. This would be best done with the help of a local force-free professional trainer.

However, even with all of that said, the only way to ensure your neighbor's safety is for her to not hold the leash. This means that a friend, a local teenager or a hired professional dog walker is the one actually walking the dog. She can join for the walk. But safety must be the top priority, and even spectacularly well trained dogs can still be startled or excited by something and go running/charging without warning and since this dog has already twice caused injuries requiring a hospital visit for the owner, I cannot offer any options that would completely eliminate that possibility other than making sure that your neighbor is never the one holding the leash.

So... the options for improved walking - tools to help you teach the dog to walk better on a loose leash include:

Face collars such as the Gentle Leader or the Snoot Loop

Before taking the dog for a walk using a face collar such as these, the time must be taken to properly acclimate the dog to the collar otherwise he'll fuss and fight the collar. The collar works like a horse halter in that it gives the handler control of steering. Where the head goes, the body follows... So if you turn the head, the body will move in that same direction. Neck damage can be done using these collars if the handler pulls/yanks on the leash as this can cause whiplash, so the handler must learn how to properly provide feedback to the dog if the dog is pulling ahead and how to teach the dog to walk well with the leash.

I can't say for certain about the Snoot Loop, but the Gentle Leader comes with a DVD that teaches you how to acclimate the dog to the collar and how to teach the dog to walk well (without distractions) on the collar.

Gentle Leader:

Snoot Loop:

Note - neither of these collars is a muzzle, though a portion of the collar goes around the muzzle of the dog. But the dog can still open his mouth fully, pant, drink water and take treats while wearing these face collars.

Another option would be something like the Freedom Harness with the double-ended leash. This harness has two attachment points for the leash. One on the chest which provides the handler with leverage and "steering" while the other is on a martingale loop on the back. The back attachment will gently squeeze around the dog's chest if he pulls and this gentle correction is often sufficient to slow a dog down. I would definitely use this with both leash attachments for this dog for maximum control

Again, though, I cannot stress this strongly enough... These tools are not guarantees by any means that the dog will not pull your neighbor out of her wheelchair again if he decides to chase after a squirrel. They are tools designed to help handlers while teaching good leash skills and other obedience skills (such as that Leave It command). They can help. But a determined dog who is far stronger than his handler can still pull through the inconvenience of these tools.

So, while I do recommend that one or the other of these tools is tried, I make that recommendation with the caveat that it should absolutely be someone other than the actual owner - someone mobile and physically strong enough to be able to stand still and disallow forward motion even if the dog is fighting to get somewhere - at the other end of the leash.

If there is truly no option for someone else to take on the responsibility of handling the leash for all walks (3-4 per day if there's no yard for the dog to potty in), then I think the doctor is right and finding a new home where this dog can thrive and that allows your neighbor to stay safe is the best option. I know how difficult that would be to even discuss. I would never want to give up one of my dogs and they are not replaceable. But... if I cannot provide what my dog needs to truly thrive, then I am doing a disservice to my dog by not finding him a home where he can thrive.

And I've had this conversation many times over the years - not every home is right for every dog and not every dog is right for every home. For your neighbor, in her current condition, this dog may not be the right dog for her. But there may be a fantastic dog out there that would provide great comfort and companionship that would not be putting her health and safety at risk simply due to his strength and determination.

So, if accommodations can be made to help her with the dog walking, then this could work out well. But if no accommodations can be made, then I think it is appropriate to think about finding a new home for the dog and a better suited dog for your neighbor.

I'm sorry there are no tools out there that can completely fix this or guarantee your neighbor's safety. I do hope that this information proves helpful.

Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance.

Los Angeles Behavior Specialist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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