Harness Update and an Itchy Puppy

I was planning on writing an update on our experience with the Freedom Harness today. Pearl has been doing great and I have been loving it. These photos from a recent walk speak for themselves- look at the loose leash! (Granted, these photos are not really representative of the whole walk- my husband caught us at good moments)

We are also working on the command “watch me.” When Pearl makes eye contact I click and treat. It worked well today when a dog passed us on the other side of the street. Pearl started to freak out, I had her sit and asked her to watch me and although she was still a bit of a nut she was listening and responding to me rather than being totally out of control. Below you can see how well she is doing with this!

There is just one problem. The bumps and itchies that I talked about in a post a week ago are causing problems. Pearl was put on prednisone by the vet after we got her checked out last week, but she is worse than ever. The bumps have multiplied and look more like hives. Some of them are bleeding, probably because we can’t get her to stop itching them all the time. She is now on benadryl as well as the prednisone and we have an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist next week. The benadryl seems to help with her discomfort. In the meantime, her harness goes across her back in exactly the spot where her worst bumps are. I am wondering now if it may be from Frontline, as the worst area is right where that gets applied? Poor thing, as I am typing this post she is rolling around on her back on the floor trying to scratch.

So, despite how much we have been loving the freedom harness we are hanging it up for the time being. My husband and I are worried about irritating the area further so we’ve gone back to walking her in her flat buckle collar. Two walks in and I am already missing the harness. It’s so much harder to control her in the collar and she is much more likely to pull. However, she is still better than she was when she first came to us and I she is still responding to “watch me” and other commands. Although we are unfortunately taking a break from it, I would enthusiastically recommend the Freedom No-Pull Harness to anyone looking for a front-hook harness.

In other, more positive news, tonight we are taking Pearl to her first group training class since right after we got her. Since we stopped going to the dog park we wanted another way to get her some socialization and keep working on her skills and maybe go from here to work on getting her Canine Good Citizen (with her reactivity we have a TON of work to do before we get there, but its good to have goals). Anyway, cross your fingers that class goes well for us!

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About Pearl the Puppy

Pearl is just over 40 lbs of energy mixed with a pinch of crazy. We adopted her in March 2011 from a St. Louis rescue organization called Impact for Animals (now Pet Rescue Network). We are unsure about her age, but we are guessing she was born in Fall 2010. Her background is anybody's guess, but we are pretty sure that she has at least some sighthound in her. She's a whole lot of trouble but a whole lot of fun.

9 thoughts on “Harness Update and an Itchy Puppy

  1. Oh my! How awful little Pearl must feel. Poor girl. I vowed never to use chemical treatments on Elli for these exact reasons. Scary! She was put on an antibiotic for a while for her skin thing but as soon as she was off it, it came back. So annoying and generally hard to watch. Skye, the pittie in Of PitBulls and Patience, has an auto-immune disease that looks similar to this — but don’t jump to conclusions, okay?

    You can C/T for loose-leash, too. It’s easiest if you, the handler, have cues (cones/dots) on your path to remind you when to Stop, C/T. You can even C/T for the tactile cue of the leash hanging/touching her neck. 🙂

    • She is so uncomfortable, I feel terrible! It’s easier to change diet and what toys/chews she gets, but there isn’t really a good non-chemical solution for fleas and ticks that I have heard of. I feel so guilty. But I do feel reassured that we have this specialist appointment coming up and that hopefully we will have answers soon.

      Thanks for the walking tips- she has been doing pretty well if I give her treats really frequently. The problem then is that 1. I run out of treats before the end of the walk and then get dragged home and 2. she is constantly looking up at me for a treat and won’t do her business!

      • There are so many natural options for flea treatment — I like to fight them internally with garlic/yeast powder mix (PetGuard) and then if I find any on her, I use a clove/geranium leaf shampoo (Natural Chemistry) to kill instantly. She smells so yummy afterwards!

        Does she work for her meals? I usually train with Elli’s kibble, so I rarely run out. I, too, found out very quickly that my pockets could only hold so many tiny actual treats. And with rapid C/Ts, it was way too easy to run out.

        You always want to fade the frequency of the C/Ts as soon as you can — that’s why I mentioned the cones/dots when training this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L1vae-sOXE

        You’d have to set aside time to start this training, not just implement it during a regular walk.

        Here are some possible solutions:
        — You can always train for two different styles of walking — one where she’s out in front and one where she’s heeling. They’d need two different cues: Elli’s are “Easy” for loose-leash-out-front walking and a continuous hand signal for heeling.
        — You can add a cue for pulling/sniffing at something to the side (“Go Sniff”)
        — You can use that pulling/being out front as a “treat”. Again, put it on cue, after she’s walked a few steps in heel, cue the pulling and hold on!
        — I can’t believe you’re complaining about heads-up heeling! Haha! Put going potty on a cue and C/T when she does — it works wonders, trust me! Elli would never go potty on-leash, so it was necessary for us.

  2. Those skin things don’t look good. I hope you get them fixed soon. I try and avoid chemical treatments for Frankie and Beryl, although I have Frontlined them both once without any skin reactions. Good luck to Pearl. Shame about not being able to use the harness til it clears up. I certainly know how much more pleasant it is to walk a dog who isn’t pulling:)

    • They do look awful, don’t they? Poor puppy. What do you use to prevent fleas if not a chemical like Frontline? I am definitely open to new ideas- especially if the veterinary dermatologist finds it out is the Frontline. Although I’ve read so many bad things since I began to look into it that I probably will stop using it even if it turns out not to be the cause of Pearl’s skin troubles.

  3. Hope you can get to the bottom of this. You could put camomile lotion on it. It soothes sunburn and hives and isn’t harmful to Pearl if she licked it.

    You can use Garlic (tablets in food) to treat fleas. Also they don’t like Tea Tree oil (one or two drops into water and wiped over the coat).

  4. Poor Pearl. 😦 I feel bad for her (and for you) dealing with the itchies. And some of those training terms are sounding really familiar! “Watch me” is a big one here, as we have one who is completely obsessed with food, even (especially) food that is not hers. It’s a process, right?

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