In part 1 of this post I introduced you to our Blue Heeler, White Lightning. I mentioned the importance of Stance. This communicate with your dog that you are the leader. I also talked about making deposits into the Puppy Bank. Remember to reward your dog when she does the right thing. In Part 2, we move on to the third component to comfortably walking with your canine companion.
#3 The Equipment
This is my favorite topic! If there is anything I love its spoiling my puppy and in turn spoiling myself with an enjoyable walk with said pup! If you have a real hefty puller, I suggest a special walk right muzzle harness. It’s been a life saver for us! While this can be used for large dogs as well, I have had the best results with medium and small pooches. It’s called “The Walking Collar,” by Holt. This can be found on Amazon, or at Petco or Petsmart!
This comfortable head harness has a soft padded band across the muzzle under the eyes. It’s connected to another strap that wraps behind the head. There’s another that connects the muzzle strap to the head strap with a ring under the chin. From that ring is one more strap with a clip to hood to your dogs collar. That ring is what you connect to with your leash.
The genius of this face harness is the frustration it causes to a pulling dog. For the first few walks we barely made it out the door because Lightning ended up walking in circles the whole time.
This harness skips the neck, where a traditional leash and collar would meet. It connects straight to the face where the best control can be found. Do this when your furry companion gets overly excited or impatient. Do this when she insists on pulling despite your best efforts. Simply stand in one place and the harness will do the rest.
Instead of yanking on your dog or making them hack from chest pressure their head is imply forced to the side. This causes them to walk where they are looking. In a circle. Eventually a smart pup will realize this and stop. They’ll follow up with an innocent plea for direction from you.
A Leash is Not Just a Leash
A lot of people think a leash is a leash. I will be the first to tell you there are three very distinct leashes and one to absolutely avoid! You know those “convenient” retractable leashes? They are an accident waiting to happen. I will never use that kind of leash with any pet I have. There is little to no control. A button to stop them from continuing farther away from you is not the way to train. If you want results I highly suggest not getting a retractable leash.
Instead start your dog with a training leash. For my medium sized dog whose head is about at my hip, we use a two foot neon leash. This leash allows me optimal control close to my dog.
There is no excuse for her to get away from me when she’s forced to be this close. If you want to have control, but not have them so close, I suggest using a training leash that’s no more than five feet long. These leashes will have an extra handle built into the leash about half way down. This gives you an extra place to grip without having to wrap the leash around your hand.
Last, But Not Leash
Lastly, if you feel you don’t need either of these leashes you may be happy with a simple traditional one loop leash. If that’s the case, just remember that you lead your dog not the other way around. Do not let them pull so far ahead of you that they forget your are there.
If you decide, after training for some time, that your dog deserves some space and maybe even a healthy run on the beach I suggest getting a twenty foot leash. Many places, such as public beaches and parks, require that all dogs be on leashes. This is no fun when you wanna catch a frisbee or chase those seagulls. A twenty foot leash gives them plenty of room for a mad dash and some freedom without completely letting go of your control or your pets safety.
With these three things in mind our walks were greatly improved. I was able to go from being pulled a mile daily and dealing with back problems, to walking for several hours and enjoying my pup’s company.
My favorite combination is a small pouch I clip to my waist for treats, a gentle face harness, and a short two foot training leash. Even after a few years it’s still my preferred combination. We do live on the beach, however, and we have a twenty foot leash for those special occasions! Set yourself and your pup, young or old, big or small, up for a successful relaxing walk you will both enjoy.
– Krystal Brook – Follow White Lightning on Instagram! @lilwhitelightningbug