Dr Curran's Comments

The Balance Reflex

By Dr. Robert Curran, D.V.M., B.A.

The balance or opposition reflex is part of the unconscious nervous system that controls the body's muscles of posture. We naturally lean into a force that pushes against us. Dogs and other animals are no different. This explains why a harness naturally triggers a mule, ox, horse or dog to pull a cart or sled. But just try to pull a mule forward with a rope around its neck and you will witness the same opposition reflex make the mule dig in its heels and refuse to go forward.

The pressure from a leash and collar on the front of a dog's neck actually stimulates him to pull forward as you pull back. Many dogs will even continue to pull when you add in a choker or a pinch collar. You may think your dog is as stubborn as a mule but really he is just following his natural reflexes and does not understand that you don't want him to pull!

The most unique feature of the NewTrix™ dog halter design is the "push-pulley" mechanism that attaches to the leash at the back of the neck. When your dog reaches the end of the leash, he gets a gentle nudge from behind his head that makes him lean back into the pressure. The difference is that the pressure is coming from the direction of the leash so he leans toward the leash. The NewTrix™ dog halter pulley design works with the natural balance reflex to get you and your dog pulling together instead of struggling against each other in a tug-of-war.


Don't Just Do Something- Stand There!

By Dr. Robert Curran, D.V.M., B.A.

The secret to training your dog with the NewTrix™ dog halter is to develop a light touch. Think of it as power brakes. Any tug you feel is a "stop" signal. Hold your arms close to your body, flex your knees, and brace yourself to stop and your dog will also stop. As soon as he stops, release the tension on the leash by extending your arm. You must practice a little to overcome the habit of tugging and jerking the leash. Practice releasing the tension when you get the halt response. This rewards you both for stopping at the slightest tug on the leash.

If your dog is highly motivated to go forward, he may ignore the subtlety of the gentle nudge at the nape of his neck. Hold your ground. The leverage is still in your favor to make him stop. As soon as he stops, release the tension to reward the halt response by extending your arm.

If he still wants to go forward, hold your ground and do nothing but flex your knees and brace yourself. The more he pulls, the tighter the figure eight will constrict around his snout and neck. As soon as he relaxes, the pressure is released. The NewTrix™ dog halter does all the training because it reflects your dog's effort right back on him. It works better if you do nothing but anchor yourself and get ready to reward the halt response with a slackening of the lead. In other words, "Don't just do something, stand there!"

Many people find it hard to get out of the habit of tugging on the leash, or walking with a constant tension on the leash. But if you never use the NewTrix™ dog halter to pull your dog forward, it will remain a clear, consistent, intuitive message to halt. If you train your dog to only walk forwards on your cue and with a loose leash, he will find the NewTrix™ dog halter comfortable. If your dog seems to still pull with his face while wearing the NewTrix™ dog halter, at least you have leverage to control him easily and you are not twisting his neck. You must not keep a constant tension on the leash or pull your dog forward or your dog will learn to ignore the balance reflex. The leash should always be loose except for momentarily when signaling "stop" or "slow down." To go forward, just lead the way and use your voice for encouragement.


The Instinct to Control

By Dr. Robert Curran, D.V.M., B.A.

Social animals have a natural instinct to control or be controlled by other members of the group. In the canine pack, body language communicates clearly who is the leader and who is the follower. When puppies play-wrestle, they try to pin down the other pup's snout in their open jaw. The pups learn to inhibit their bite to not hurt each other as they struggle for control. If a pup is hurt, it squeals and withdraws from the game. The social instinct drives them to play for the fun of it, while they learn how to get along. The pups learn to lead and follow as natural ways to control or be controlled by others in the pack.

The NewTrix™ dog halter mimics the instinctive canine body language of control. It forms a figure eight to encircle your dog’s snout and neck without crossing the sensitive and delicate structures of his throat. Any pull on the leash from the handler wanting to assert control or from the dog trying to lunge or pull will constrict the collar to apply a gentle, even pressure around the snout and around the back of the neck without choking. This is an immediate and clear signal to your dog that you are the leader!


Leverage: A Mechanical Advantage

By Dr. Robert Curran, D.V.M., B.A.

Animals' bodies move with a sophisticated system of levers and pulleys. A muscle attached to one-bone contracts to pull on a tendon that crosses a joint and attaches to another bone. Just like a seesaw, the further out from the center of gravity you apply your force, the more your efforts are multiplied. Dogs have the advantage of a low center of gravity. The further out from his trunk you attach a leash, the greater leverage you have over your dog. A leash attached to a harness around his trunk or even a collar around his neck makes it easier for your dog to pull you. Attach a leash to a head halter to make it harder for your dog to pull.

The NewTrix™ dog halter gives you the advantage of leverage to control your dog with ingenuity instead of strength.