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This type of training is more effective because it builds a bond of trust and cooperation between animals and humans, the animals (and the humans) actually look forward to training! No one looks forward to punishment, or even the probability of punishment! We all want to be told when we do something right, not belittled, hit or corrected when we do something wrong!
I mean, have you ever seen anyone successfully loose leash walk their dog using a retractable leash? I observed a man yesterday at our local pet food center trying to control his medium sized dog while another customer was walking their very petite pups. Guess what he was using? A retractable leash, that malfunctioned, the dog was able to get far enough away from the owner that he lost control and the dog went right after those little puppies. Luckily, the dog just wanted to say hello, and those two little pooches knew exactly how to take care of themselves! This scenario could have turned out pretty bad.
Or maybe, you have an older dog that walks you instead of you walking him. He pulls you all over the place, chases the neighborhood cat into the thorn bush up the street that you are now well acquainted with, and it seems like any time you pull back on the leash, Fido increases his speed! You decide he’s getting too big or too strong for you and before you know it, you are in traction at the chiropractor and your beloved pup is getting fat on the couch!
If your pup barks: Some dogs have the habit of barking at other dogs while on a walk. Oftentimes, this behavior comes as a result of lack of exercise. Make sure your dog gets the proper amount of mental and physical stimulation for his age and breed. If this is still a problem, use the same process as you would if your dog is lunging, as described above — create distance and offer treats before he starts to bark, so every time he sees a dog he gets used to turning his attention to you.
Since that article ran in June, three dogs who have graduated from my Growly Dog class have been attacked by off-leash dogs. My clients work hard to calm their dog’s anxiety when they see other dogs (which often stems from being attacked the very first time by a rude, off-leash dog!). We help these over-anxious dogs learn to trust their handler, and we rebuild their faith that they can walk safely in their own neighborhood. We make significant progress in keeping these dogs calm and focused on their owners instead of hyper-vigilantly scanning for dangers . . . such as an off-leash dog. In some of these cases, the unleashed dog owner was held responsible and now must pay fines in addition to medical bills; one of my clients ended up having an $8,000 hand surgery after breaking up a dog fight. I have enough stories like that to fill up a very long, pathetic book.
In a critical situation, don’t try to reason with the unreasonable human who allowed their dog to come into your dog’s space. By allowing their dog to be unleashed where leashes are required, that owner has by default demonstrated a lack of concern for his own dog and yours. You may feel like screaming obscenities for their lack of care, but that wastes both emotion and time. It can also ramp the dogs up even more.
As the unleashed dog comes at you, push the button and unleash the umbrella. We aren’t trying to hurt the dog – we are trying to but a barrier between your leashed dog and the outlaw dog. Be aware that if you use an umbrella, throw meat at the oncoming off-leash dog, or use a citronella spray, you are in a way escalating a bad situation. Or, it’s more accurate to say that you are being put in a position that may escalate because of the other owner’s irresponsibility. I’ve had two clients get into fistfights with other owners after spraying an oncoming dog with citronella. On the other hand, we have to protect our dogs. If you use a defensive move, do so carefully cautiously and as a last resort and understand that it might cause more human strife.
Please remember to remain calm at all times, and utilize jackpots (more treats or better treats) when your dog accomplishes something that was difficult for him; i.e. not pulling you toward the neighbor dog! Jackpot for any eye contact or focus on you! Keep leash training sessions short and FUN! You can train several times a day, but you don’t want to push you or your dog past the point of fun! Puppies, especially, have short attention spans and if you insist on puppy training past the point of fun, usually around 5 to 15 minutes, your pup may start to dislike, and even dread training!
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