Do you wonder why your dog pulls?

 

I can’t tell you how often I see a dog – no matter how big or small – walking his owner down the block.  Just the other day one of my good friends commented about the difference between my dogs and her dog.  She looked after my guys for a couple of days last weekend, after which she drove home to visit her parents and their 9-year-old Golden Retriever.  She said, “Your dogs spoiled me for walks!  My parents’ dog is the sweetest, but boy does she pull me all over the neighborhood when I visit home!”  That is almost a disastrous vision in my head since my friend is a very petite young woman.  Probably what frustrates me the most about this scenario (among MANY things), is that it just doesn’t have to be this way!

If your dog is determined to pull you all over town every time you go out, ask yourself the following questions that might be the cause of your troubles.

- Does my dog wear a harness?

I have to say this is hands down the most obvious and widespread reason why dogs pull.  The origin of the harness is not a secret.  Harnesses were made for pulling!  Sleds, carts, and other working tools that originally aided humans in doing every day chores.  Any dog (not just working dogs) with a harness strapped on automatically goes into pull mode.  Literally, every time I see a dog in a harness, I imagine his internal dialogue going something like this: “pull, pull pull!!!  Gotta pull, pull, pull! ”

If your dog is not an actively working dog that you are training to pull with a harness, there is NO reason they should be used.  Some might argue that toy-sized dogs will damage their tracheas if walked on a leash.  I have three toy sized dogs, and have never used a harness on any of them (except my senior dog, but she’s not going anywhere anytime soon).  They all know good leash manners, and are virtually NEVER at the very end of the leash.  This is because I have trained them proper commands and rules of good leash behavior.

If you insist on using a harness for your dog, it is worthwhile to invest in an Easy Walk harness, actually made to deter pulling in dogs.  They are not even that expensive, and I have seen a night and day change in dogs with naughty pulling behavior.

- Does my dog wear a flexi-leash?

Similar to the harness, flexi-leads were not originally designed for walks, and actually encourage pulling.  Most of the better-quality ones even say on the packaging they are not intended for use in cities because your dog can accidentally walk into the street and get hit by a car, or tangle you or other pedestrians on the sidewalk.  I have spoken endlessly about flexi-leads and refuse to use them myself.  They encourage many bad behaviors, but especially pulling since that is how your dog learns to get to the end of the leash.  “Ooh, ooh, pull, pull, pull!!” says your dog.

- Do I set rules for my dog?

This may sound silly, but many dog owners don’t even think about this concept, and consequently feel helpless and ill equipped to handle a dog that pulls.  Here are some basic rules that you should always have your dog follow:

- Your dog should walk to the side of you, not in front of you.  Along the lines of the basic “heel” many trainers endorse, your dog should be on the same level as you.  He should be looking to you to determine which direction to go, and how fast a pace you will set.  After all, you are the boss, not Fluffy.

- Pick a side!  Before I enforced this rule with my first dog, Spike, he would literally walk wherever he wanted, often tripping me when he would cause the leash to cross the path.  Not only is this dangerous, but it is bad manners!  It’s also very helpful when you are approaching a strange dog and you want to block your guy from potential danger.

- You decide where it is ok to go potty.    If it were up to Spike, our walks would last hours just so he could pee on anything he wants.  Now that I only allow him to go pee when I say it’s ok to do so, he has not only learned good leash manners, but he has learned patience as well as more restraint in other areas of his life.

- Am I consistent?

The rules above will go into the garbage if you are not consistently practicing them on every walk.  Too many dog owners complain that they do not have time or patience to practice consistency with their dog.  Well, why do you have a dog?  Being inconsistent with your dog is the same thing as telling your child he can’t have chocolate, then fail to discipline him when you see him eating a chocolate bar.  It is poor parenting.

- Am I being realistic?

You could probably pick up on the passion in my words on the last one, but let’s face it.  Some people just aren’t as committed as I would like all dog owners to be.  That doesn’t mean dogs should be denied a loving home simply because its people lack discipline on a walk.  However, you then need to be realistic about what methods are going to make your dog happiest on a leash.  Some good solutions are to hire a professional who can properly and safely handle your dog on walks, rearrange your schedule so you do have the time to be consistent on walks, or purchase an Easy Walk harness.  You can make anything work if you put your mind to it!

 

There are not many things that I agree with Cesar Millan on.  But, I did read one of his books a while ago (I think it was Be the Pack Leader) and absolutely agreed with something he said in his section about the importance of walks with your dog.  He pointed out many of the things I did above, and said that many of his clients complained that this would limit the dog, and be too restrictive when in reality they felt bad about leaving their dog inside all day.  His response was well-said, something along the lines of: “Your dog is going to be happy outside, whether or not he is at the end of the leash, or by your side.”  Actually, dogs do SO MUCH BETTER with structure and rules than without, and I wholeheartedly believe they will have a better quality walk once they know the rules, and what to expect.  You may find that your once-anxious dog becomes calm and patient if you address all of the questions above!  Message me or leave a comment if you have any questions or comments!

Trying to hang on

I have lost most of my inspiration to write on this site. It saddens me because I still have a lot to say, I just get caught up in how I want it to look, and when I don’t think I can make it look that way, I don’t want to even attempt to start it.

More lame excuses, I know.

Anyway, I will finally put up the pictures of my business cards! Unfortunately, I have not been advertising my dog walking services because my schedule really just doesn’t allow it. But I do hope to get crafting more often in the hopes of starting a dog apparel site at some point. It’s just an idea for now, but now that I have moved into my own apartment and have a whole room to do arts and crafts, I have been prepping myself to get something big accomplished.

Here they are!

Conundrum

I had an interesting experience today that I thought I would share with you.  Mostly I want to get your opinion as to whether I should have thought differently about this than I did.

My boyfriend and I were walking from his house to his car this morning down the sidewalk.  He lives on a dead end street, so I usually let my dog walk without a leash to exercise some discipline.  This morning was no different was different.  However, as we were walking, my dog just to the right of me (within arm’s reach), this yellow lab comes bolting at us, her owners yelling at her to stop.  She charged at us, in a friendly manner, trying to sniff my dog who was scared out of his mind.  I promptly scruffed her, made sure my dog was out of the street, and held the lab until her owners could waddle their fat hides down the sidewalk to us.  They apologized and corrected the dog, I said “no worries,” picked up my dog, and continued walking across the street.  I was going over the situation in my head when the woman yelled back at us, “Why don’t you have your dog on a leash?” I turned and replied, “Because my dog is well-behaved.”

…Really?

Of course, as happens every single time I have a confrontation like this, I thought of 20 more things I could have said that would have really shut her up: “Your dog would have charged us regardless of whether my dog was on a leash.”  I really just wanted to say, “Excuse me?  Are you singling me out for your dog charging my dog from down the street?”  I just couldn’t justify what I had done wrong, if anything.

So, maybe you can tell me what really went on here.  Should I have had my dog on a leash on a quiet, dead-end street?  I’m not aware of the laws requiring dogs on leashes, but maybe I am breaking the law by having my dog unleashed…if that’s the case, I would rectify it.  However, if those people were to get mad at me just because my well-behaved dog, who was standing no further than he would have been had he been on a leash, was off leash and caused their dog to disobey them and run down the street, I just want to laugh.  I just can’t see how I was in the wrong here.  I almost wish my dog were on a leash and that he had defended himself against that dog just so I could yell at them for having an ill-trained dog off-leash.  But what would that have done?  They promptly corrected her, so other than maybe needing to give her a bath, they seemed to be doing a fine job.

It’s confrontations like this that make me so angry.  I am being penalized for being a good dog owner.  I have people get mad at me all the time for not letting their crazed, ill-behaved dog lunge at mine when on leash because I don’t like my dog greeting dogs who haven’t been trained to control themselves.  How is this my fault?  Maybe I make them feel silly when I deliberately go out of my way to avoid them, but really, people, this is not about me.  Everything I do around dog owners like that is to try to get them thinking about different ways to look at their dog and how they are raising this completely dependent creature.  I don’t take it lightly.

Woof!

Hey y’all!

Welcome to my blog! Over the years I have made more attempts at blogs than I can remember the URLs for.  I’m sure they’re all floating somewhere in the nebulous crevices of the internets, taking up space and amusing the little web goblins and such.  I guess I hope this can be different.  Of course, every noob blog author dreams of big things for her public diary, but if anything, this will be a personal exploration to help me focus the direction of my research.

That brings us to the focus of the blog! :)

SO…I’ve been working with dogs for almost three years now and it turns out I kinda like ‘em. Long story short, I’ve been doing research on my own concerning dog breeds, grooming technique, training methods, behavior, and especially nutrition.  It has had me come to believe in a higher form of care for our family pets, particularly dogs.  What has become “acceptable” as treatment for our dogs in our society is just not good enough in my eyes.  It has also made me realize that there are not all that many well-informed, albeit well-intentioned bloggers who provide easily accessible information to those of us wanting to know how to raise a dog the right way.

The right way.  Yes, I acknowledge there is no ONE right way to raise a dog.  Different people have different needs, as different breeds have different functions.  My blog is (at least initially) intended for pet owners who simply want to raise emotionally and physically healthy dogs.  In all fairness, I do not think the majority of dogs living in your average households are being mistreated per say.  I just think that, having brought these impressionable creatures into our homes, we have a duty to provide the BEST lifestyle possible to them.  It might seem like the sort of lifestyle I tote is time consuming, expensive, or difficult.  My response to that?  Adopt a rat or pet rock – both of which I have had the pleasure of owning.  I always advocate making the best decisions for every person and every animal.  Sometimes a dog is not the right choice for certain people.  I will discuss that at some point as well.

I only want to provide accessible information to people who already own dogs and want to extend their companions’ lives or question a treatment their veterinarian prescribed, people who are looking to adopt or buy a dog and want to be as informed as possible, or people who are just interested in learning more or helping others with dogs.

So please, come in!  I encourage as much input and constructive criticism as you can dish – in a polite, communicative way.  Let me know what you would like to see or what you would like changed. And above all else, have fun learning about one awesome subject: your dog! :)