The Domestics of Leash Walking

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A skill I teach in both Pet Manners, and Growl, that will change a dog more than any tool or training method...


Domestic Leash Skills:

I often think dog training has gone away from actual dog training. Dogmanship and good handling are becoming a thing of the past; and are not something frequently taught, or even pondered. Many people have no clue how to use a leash, and use it more as a tow rope than an aide for communication.

Leash handling is is reward based and punishment based; but our rewards and punishments are not something that many think of. Or are even aware of.

Your reward for a job well done should be muscle release, and a consequence, tension. When they have done good, we need to have an absolute softness about us. Or if we plan on them doing good, we need to have that softness in advance. Tightness will trigger badness, be it reactivity, or pulling.

Yet many people who have not yet conquered their fears are feeding and rewarding 'good behaviour' while their muscles are tense. No one wants to be held rigidly and controlled. Save the hot dog, and instead be respectful with your hands and muscles. 

And if you don't believe me, jump on a sensitive horse and tense every single muscle as you approach a plastic bag and see what effect that has on the horse.

We cannot lie to a dog. They know that if they did good that we will relax. So if they tried, and you did not relax - in their hearts they will know they failed...

When you walk your dog their leash should sit in your open, relaxed hand, while both of your arms swing. On every second step, your leash arm will swing back, and this is your dog's check and balance to know if they are in position or not.  My arm continues swinging, even if they are out of position.  It doesn't take a dog too long to work out that it is annoying being ahead - and to check their position an inch or two.  By swinging your arm, you make the right thing easy, and the wrong thing hard.  Sure they can pull, but the dumb human continues to swing their arm, oblivious of the tension on the back-swing.  I let them work it out - I don't say a word.

By swinging our arms, we move normally. As you look 'normal' they will follow your lead and start to act normal too. 

Ponder this!

Monique Anstee
Victoria, BC

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