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.
Cat leashes are used with the purpose of preventing the cat getting lost. Unlike dogs, cats rarely attack persons on the street, so cat leashes are mainly a safety measure to protect the pet itself. Very often the collars are replaced with harnesses, because they avoid the dangers of collars which include escaping and running away or choking. Cats are more likely to not be willing to be walked in a harness than dogs are, and are considered to need up to months to be able to adjust to wearing a harness.
Keep moving on a walk instead of stopping and chatting with others. While you and the other person are smiling and looking at each other, your dogs may be sending signals to one another that they are uncomfortable. Keep moving and stay focused on your dog’s body language. If your dog stiffens, growls, starts randomly sniffing or scratching, or you can see his hackles (among other warning signs that your dog is getting uncomfortable), do a U-turn and put something visual between you and the trigger upsetting your dog.
There are also bicycle dog leashes, especially designed for people who enjoy taking their pet in a ride with the bike. The leash is an aluminum tube with a plastic coated cable which runs down through the tube. It extends out of the tube end a couple of feet to allow for ease of movement for the dog. One end connects to the bike and the other to the dog's collar. This keeps them safely away the bike.
Leash walking outside may be more frustrating because there are numerous distractions for you to compete with for your puppy’s attention. Understand, from his point of view, how much more difficult this task has now become, and whatever you do, don’t lose your patience; don’t drag him or allow him to drag you! Walk slowly and click and treat if he stays at your side. If he begins to pull, stop or change your direction, then click and treat when he reaches your side again!
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