If you are one of the many pet dog owners out there that has a dog with an entrenched pulling on lead habit then this article is for you.
Teaching your dog to walk on a loose lead takes commitment, patience and time in order to achieve the goal of your dog trotting happily next to you with not an outstretched arm in sight. ‘Blah, blah, blah’ I hear you sigh but read on, I’m getting to the juicy bit soon.
Straining on lead has been a successful strategy for your canine friend so why would he/she switch to Plan B (lovely slack/jangly lead) when Plan A (full steam ahead as default setting) has been working fine?
I’m going to tell you why in 2 words- ‘Pack leadership?’ I hear your drone. Nope, not those dirty words-these two beauties- Management options.
Yep, managing the problem is not failure. Not walking your dog and not providing access to the great world outside is failing your dog. I want to change that for dog’s sake.
There are a number of ‘power steering’ options and nice pieces of kit that I’m going to recommend that will have a significant positive impact on both you and your dog’s stress levels in so far as walkies are concerned.
I’m going to define loose lead walking (or ‘slacker walking’) as simply seeing/keeping a jangle/ bend in the lead. It’s not obedience heeling strictness that has to be achieved (although that might be your ultimate goal) just slack arms, slack lead and loose happy dog. Before I forget, dogs love to sniff, let them stop and sniff it’s a walk, not a race.
1- Lead length. This is often overlooked. I la la love 6-7 ft. leads as opposed to 4ft ones.
If you walk your dog on a 4 ft. lead (or shorter heaven’s forbid!)then even if your dog is a step or 2 ahead of you, the lead is already taut and therefore the dog is already pulling ahead. With a 6 ft-7 ft. lead you and your dog have a much better chance of keeping the lead slack and therefore are on the right road to loose lead walking. Leather leads (‘Heim’ brand is serious gear) and rubber stitched (www.gripleash.com) are my all-time favourite ones as they improve your overall grip on the lead so it’s more comfortable on your hands.
2- Front attachment harnesses ( power steering option -exhibit 1)
Would highly recommend you use one of the above mentioned leads in conjunction with these harnesses to maximise successful slacker walking.
The ‘Sensation’ or ‘Sensible’ harnesses are just the ticket if you have a moderate/ nuisance pulling issue.
What I love about these harnesses is you can purchase one, fit it on the dog (no fuss) and head out for the walk that you have been waiting for all this time.
It is likely to induce smug grinning on your part as you witness your dog walking in a more mannerly fashion almost as if by magic!
Your dog will also grin as he no longer gasps/ coughs like he might have done with the pressure on his trachea from straining into the collar he used to wear. www.softouchconcepts.com/
3- Head collars( power steering option – exhibit 2)
Head collars are for the extreme tuggers on lead.
You might have one of these dogs. Again, do yourself and your dog a favour and use with a 6ft lead.
If introduced properly and gradually over a few days (more about that in another article) then your dog should happily tolerate wearing one.With this headcollar option, you are guiding/leading the dog from the front (his head) and they work much in the same way a head collar for a horse works.
Once fitted, the lead attaches to a metal ring that hangs below the dogs chin. These head collars have saved the sanity of many of my clients over the years.
Do believe the hype! I have a great fondness for the ‘dogmatic’ brand as they fit more snuggly than other brands that I have used. Don’t get me started on how stunning the leather versions of this brand look on larger breeds.www.dogmatic.org.uk/
So there you have it, the right management tools will make a major improvement to slacker walking for you and your dog. All dog owners just want to make the walk more enjoyable/pleasurable for both themselves and the dog and are in a desperate hurry to make that happen.
These power steering management options are wonderful in their own right but once taken off your dog is likely to return to the dark side (pulling on lead).
Training obviously plays an enormous part in teaching and maintaining loose lead walking skills (more about teaching this skill in another post) but managing the behaviour in my opinion also has its place in the dog/owner relationship.
Thanks for reading,