Reactive dogs on lead
Dogs your dog ever “blow up” at things when he is on lead?
I often have people reach out with this concern and problem that there dog isn’t great on lead.
But it isn’t the pulling that bothers them the most although, how could you ever find taking your dog for a walk when your arm is being pulled out of it’s socket?
It’s the lunging and barking, the fact their dog quite literally turns into a gremlin with certain triggers.
It can quite honestly, with no exaggeration be quite traumatising. To the point walks stop altogether.
Honestly I can’t blame people for avoiding it, to watch your dog behave like that and have zero control other then a piece of material you are holding onto for dear life to hold your dog back and to anyone witnessing that.
It’s just not pleasant.
It makes you want to bury your head in the sand.
Of course it doesn’t have to be like this, you brought a dog so you could get out and do things together instead your hiding out at home feeling bad that you have worked all week so you can’t just ditch your dog come the weekend but you so want to get out, you leave him at home you feel guilty you stay at home and you feel frustrated, while this situation stays the same it’s a lose lose sitch.
And you think if he just didn’t react, didn’t blow up at things it would be fine, if we could just fix than we will be sweet.
Cue the motivational real and the eye of the tiger song where you train and prepare for this scenario with multiple sits, drops and duration, because if you get the obedience good and can get him to stay focused, listen to you, stay in a sit or a down things will be sweet, you’ll be able to enjoy walks again.
If you don’t catch your dog soon enough, get him distracted quick enough, or the trigger comes closer than anticipated it all goes to shit and you remember all that time, effort and work you put in to preventing this, you were sure you had it right. It’s enough to make you feel like your not cut out for this like you have failed.
Lets break this down a little bit more.
Let’s go back to inside your home, as you put on your shoes, as you grab your dogs lead.
What is he doing?
Is he excited? Jumping around, struggling to contain his own excitement? I mean he sits well when you ask him to and you can clip his lead on easily but what about around that what choices is he making and how is he behaving?
Now as you leave the door, he settles a little because he knows while he is acting like a clown you wont open it, but how does he exit that door? How does the first 30 seconds of that walk look like?
Does he sniff erratically, perhaps you have gotten him to the point where he isn’t yanking on the lead but does he still get caught up in smells and sounds?
Does he have trouble staying connected with you? What would the walk be like if that leash didn’t exist? Would he stay close? Would he WANT to stay near by.
All these this will impact on your dog before you even get to the trigger.
And it’s the things that most people forget about or don’t even realise they are apart of the bigger picture and I get it you just want your dog not to act like he belongs in a straight jacket, but if you really want to fix it and be able to enjoy walking your dog without having to negotiate your dog constantly with sits and drops and look at me’s then you need to get in at the core.
If you want long term change the bigger picture DOES matter, and look we could zoom out even further than that.
It’s not that you have failed and that your hard work has been for nothing it’s just that two things have happened.
The focus has been zoomed in.
You have been stuck in the dreaded management loop that many get caught in.
Which is to say they aren’t fixing the issue at it’s core instead using band aids to cover the problem.
As one of my clients said the other day “band aids fall off”
And thats the moment you feel frustrated and defeated.
Quit the cycle guys.