looking inward

I’ve discovered something really interesting about my girl.

Remember I posted a week or two ago about how we saw a roo hopping across the track and Lu hardly reacted? I think her wearing a halti has had an unexpected benefit, not just in relation to her chasing things either.

I first noticed that it seemed to make her ‘zone out’ when I tried doing a rapid-fire click and treat exercise and she didn’t really seem interested in the treats. I’d always said it gave me half a dog, but this just went to prove that she wasn’t as ‘aware’ as she usually is. Then we had the time with the roo hopping across the track, and even at school with the kids playing soccer, she hardly reacts unless the ball comes really close. I don’t think this is a comfort thing, I’m beginning to think that it brings her into her self, and aware of herself, instead of having to be alert and aware of the whole world.

I saw this most obviously one day after our rehab vet appointment. We were in the waiting room to pay and there were dogs everywhere. Lu was going off her nut- launching at the end of the lead, whining and barking to try and meet the other dogs. She was feral. I was fed up so I put her halti on, at the very least to stop her launching around… and BAM… I had a calm, quiet, and sedate dog. She was still looking around at what was happening but no longer felt the need to be a part of it all.

Similarly, we were driving back to our old, empty house the other night, and the dogs were roaming around in the back of Nic’s car- Lu was so restless, coming back and forth from my lap to the boot, generally being a pain. So I tested my theory and put her halti on. She stopped, lay down on my lap and panted away. She rode the rest of the way like that.

I just find it really interesting that it seems to have this calming effect on her. She doesn’t like me putting it on but she never tries to take it off. I did some quick research and it seems there are limited reports of other people having the same benefits, and then I found that T-touch uses a figure-8 elastic in the same shape as a way to calm animals! There’s seemed to be more to lessen barking and whining but for Lu it certainly seems to just make her look inward, rather than worry about everything in the world happening.

I wonder if anybody with anxious/overly stimulated (because I think that’s what Lu is, not anxious) dogs who read this blog could try it and see if it helps them? Even if you made a figure 8 with elastic and just see if it has an effect on your dog, too.

In other news, Lu got seen by the rehab vet yesterday and apparently she didn’t do any damage to her iliopsoas the other day when she was limping, and has been given the OK to run around with Loki and wrestle, and should be starting agility again next week. YAY!


Here’s a 30 days of Mallei, too, for your viewing pleasure. (Day 23) – Mal and Loki running amok together at their new farm.

Mal and Loki



3 thoughts on “looking inward

    • Em says:

      Oh wow, I’m so glad you tried this!!!!! And the reaction you got was amazing, too! I read your reactive post so when I saw you liked mine I was hoping you’d try it. That’s what I found with Lu was that the change was INSTANT, she was just calm and stopped worrying about the world so much. I do hope that it IS calm and not ‘trapped suppression’, if that makes sense, but if I look at Lu she seems more ‘zoned out’ than ‘worried and trapped’… Maybe using the head halter could be a way to work through some reactivity issues because you start already with a calmer dog… I’ve been doing some work with Lu with kangaroos nearby for that reason

  1. Definitely have noticed this sort of thing, although not with a head halter, we did a bunch of fun shaping games to get her used to wearing it, but she just did not like it. I switched her onto a harness (was trying to get her down from being totally overstimulated on walks) with a front clip, and that has made a giant difference. For whatever reason, she just hates the feeling of being walked on a collar and it makes her nervy and antsy, like she has to react to and notice everything happening around her. The harness relaxes her, and that along with a ton of training has gotten us to almost solid LLW, which was looking dismal 6 months back. Glad you’re having good success with the head halter!

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