The “walk” must be perfected
This is my next step in teaching manners to your canine friend. Walking, on lead, in a civilized manner, will teach your canine exactly, who follows who. Regardless of how big he is, does he always try to pull you when on a leash? This is very common and doesn’t have to be resolved in an obedience class. It is not as much obedience as it is learning proper manners. Do not men, if well mannered, obligingly open doors for women? It is certainly the polite thing to do. Most likely, Fido prefers to lead you on walks and does not like to loose that control. You can teach him to follow your lead instead. That way, you can be equal partners when you walk together.
“Wait” was the very first thing I taught you to do with your friend. Teaching “wait” the very first day will teach him to pay attention He will then learn patience and also, how to be calm. This is important, so that you can much more easily attach a lead to a more cooperative fur-kidx-12363-Denver-Pet-Behavior-Examiner~y2009m9d7-To-wait-or-not-to-wait
Now you need to learn the ever-important “walk”. Caesar Milan, the “Dog Whisperer” demonstrates “the walk” very well. You must learn this if you wish to have a positive connection to your friend and not feel that every time you take her for a walk, or even better, take her to the lake; you are fighting an already lost battle. That is no fun for anyone involved.
Regardless of the size of your dog, if you have her on the usual buckle collar, and then attach a leash, she will put every ounce of strength she has into leading you to where she wants to take you. And she will be so bent on this task that she will nearly choke herself. Dogs of any breed generally have very strong necks. They have the strength, but that strength can cut off the airflow in the windpipe. Not a particularly fun outing to the lake!
Let us all take a lesson from horse trainers who have, for countless centuries, led those huge and powerful creatures, not by the neck, but by their head. Eureka! Where were us lowly dog trainers, with our tiny creatures, hiding our heads for those many centuries? Horses are led by directing their head in the desired direction with a “halter”, and then their huge and powerful bodies have no choice but to follow.
Some wise, thoughtful, and creative entrepreneur designed the “gentle lead”. After growing up in the dog world with choke chains, pinch collars, and even shock collars, we finally have had this dandy tool for a couple of decades. It works on your dog very much like a horse halter. But, the first one I purchased was $25. Yikes!
So learn something better, cheaper, and easily obtained. You simply need to understand the proper way to use it. You may have seen, or possibly even been given a “slip lead” at your vet’s office. What on earth do you do with that? It does not’t even have a hook deal that attaches to the thingy on her collar. "It is so light. What am I going to do with this kitty leash? "I have an active golden retriever, isn't she way to big for this itty bitty thing?", you may ask? See my column www.examiner.com/x-12363-Denver-Pet-Behavior-Examiner~y2009m8d25-Codya-furr-friend-in-need Cody is a really big Weimaraner with way too much energy who has very easily and well learned "the walk" with a slip lead.
This is very important. Slip it over her head and cinch it around her neck very high. It should be right under her chin, right below her ear. This is how you can very gently direct her head in the direction you want to go. When the head is going in the right direction, the rest is sure to follow! Believe me, this is as important with small dogs as it is with big dogs. People tend to ignore manners when they have a little thing that can be jerked around by a thread. It really is no fun at all.
Admittedly, these special little leads can generally not be found in retail stores. I have never found them anyway. I just know people who have those special connections to vet supply companies. But, never fear! You can just as easily use a cat leash. Or even a rope if you are creative. Just slip the hook of the leash through the handle and there it is. You do loose the handle, but it really doesn’t matter. If your kid then learns how to politely walk with you, she will soon do it by habit. Then you will be able to easily use that regular buckle collar with your leash with the hook deal that attaches to that thingy on her collar. Now, you can enroll yourselves in a proper obedience class and learn all of the basic obedience skills. But you will have a brilliant start with a polite dog who may have learned to pay better attention to you.
It may not make sense at first, because it is way too easy. It will take some time for you to wrap your head around this concept. It is a little tough to learn without a demonstration. I’m not kidding. But it really is way too easy. You don’t want it around the neck, but really high right under the chin so they can’t put their strength into it, choking their neck and throat. If you have cable TV, seriously, watch “The Dog Whisperer".
Be patient and you will learn this technique without demonstration. It will take a little bit of time, but it is worth it.
I have said before, “Do as I say, not as I do”. This time I really say, “Do as I do.” It is really amazing about the big dogs that I have been able to take charge of with this light little thing. Don’t get frustrated. If you have $25, you can buy a “Gentle Lead” or head collar. They do work quite well. If there is a will, there is a way.
There is no reason to fight each other
Now, go forth and have fun at the lake!
And please take some advise from some other pet examiners about further obedience lessons. There are many good trainers and training techniques out there. Just be sure they use gentle methods. Positive reenforcement is always the best way to go.
For specific questions on your dog, or cat, either place them in comments on this page so that they can be shared, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is very likely that others have the same or similar issues.
Tip of the dog's tale
It is winter, I say, after my first snowstorm last night. Dogs will usually have two big sheds a year. The spring shed is the worst because they "blow" their thick winter coats. The fall shed is not so bad but they do indeed "blow" their summer coats. It can seem tragically and annoyingly bad. But, with a bit of work on your part, or even better, on your kids part, those sheds can be a good thing.
Use a rather evil looking brush called a "shed blade". A curry comb, which is also used on horses, does the same thing. Do this outside and be very bold and diligent. For a Lab sized dog, you will shed a mountain of fur the size of the dog, every day for one to two weeks. The magic is, they will hardly shed at all after you aid her in "blowing" that unnecessary coat.
I have recently found a new tool that I was highly skeptical about because of the price. For $38, I thought it would be either the best money ever spent, or the most serious waste of money ever. I was quite shocked that it actually works quite well. The cool thing about it is that I can much easier shed that coat without the fur flying about like a major snowstorm. It is actually called the "Furminator". I will actually use it inside because I can collect the fur in clumps. I still choose to use the shed blade if it is a beautiful day. It is useful, but not needed to get the job done well.
And hopefully, enjoy a beautiful fall. I already have my wood stove burning.