What is the purpose of a leash?
“A chain, rope, or strap attached to the collar or harness of an animal, especially a dog, and used to lead it or hold it in check. ” – Webster’s Dictionary
- A chain, or rope used to hold an animal in check?
- A chain, or rope used to lead an animal?
First of all, the purpose of a leash is not to hold an animal in check. The purpose of a leash is to connect the dog to the owner. Furthermore, last time I checked horses did not where leashes, and it is these huge misconceptions of the leash and its proper roll in the lives of the owner/dog team that prompted me to take the time to write this article.
The leash is a great invention due to its simplicity and its purpose. Without its invention, we would not be, along with our faithful four-legged companions able to take advantage of strolls on nice summer days, or brisk morning walks, yet the inability and ignorance of the common dog owner when it comes to using the leash makes me wonder why they do not come with instructions on how to use them.
As I said above, the leash was invented to attach you, the owner to your dog. The purpose of the leash is not for the owner to be the anchor behind the pulling bull, which 9 times out of ten is the actual scenario. Thousands upon thousands of dog owners would enjoy walking their dogs ten fold if they only knew and applied proper leash techniques when doing so.
The purpose of the leash while walking with your dog is to allow you the owner to have constant control over your dog, it is not to sentence your dog to a boring dull walk! Allowing your dog to venture to the boulevard for a sniff, or venturing off course to be lavished with affection by passersby, is simply your dog being a dog I understand that in most cases it is simply a case of the public just not knowing any better; however, taking the time to find out the correct way to use the most common dog product ever made would help to know end, the relationship, and overall ambiance between dog and master.
Letting your dog pull you around, is just teaching him/her that having a taught leash is cool and you do not mind being jerked from one place to another. The biggest fault with the taught leash scenario, is that the owner tends to pull back when the dog pulls, thus encouraging the dog to pull thus initiating a tug of war that the dog usually wins.
The dog must understand that you are in charge of the situation and they are not. Walking with you should be a privilege with acting out of control an undesirable and unacceptable act. By maintaining a slack leash while walking with your dog, you are giving yourself that extra foot of leash, as well as an extra second to react to your dog’s incessant forward lunges.
First of all you the owner need to know the correct way to handle your dog’s leash. Always make sure that your leash arm is not straight but bent. By doing this, you are not putting stress on your arm, and you are giving yourself an arm length of leash to use when reacting to unwanted action from your dog:
- When your dog lunges forward from a loose leash to a tight leash, he/she will experience a level of discomfort. This in itself, may be enough to discourage the behavior.
- If your dog continues to pull, this is where the bent arm theory comes in:
By suddenly straightening your arm and backing up, you are delivering a loose leash, to taught correction to your dog’s forward lunging, thus putting a surprising and abrupt halt to your dog’s forward progress.
The third option is to straighten your arm while turning and walking in the opposite direction. By doing this you are providing a loose leash, to a hard correction, that is ongoing and only ceases when the dog complies with you.
The idea behind this approach is to make an effort to convey to the dog that this type of behavior is unacceptable and you the owner will not tolerate it. You the owner want your dog to make the association between lunging forward, and the resulting discomfort that accompanies that act. If proper leash technique is used correctly and consistently, one can put a stop to incessant pulling of any kind whether it be pulling forward, or pulling sideways. Always make a point to praise and reward the dog upon compliance! By doing this you are only strengthening the dog’s understanding that good behavior leads to good results. By relaying the message to your dog that unwanted activity will lead to discomfort, while compliance will lead to a good outcome, walking your dog will soon become a pleasure not a chore.
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