Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Leash Dragon

Momma: Hey Dex! Let's try out that new walkie technique your teacher, Miss Lisa, recommended.

Me: You mean the Leash Dragon? No thanks.

Momma: Why not?

Me: Well, just think about it.

Momma: Oh Dex, what an imagination you have. Come on, it's an exercise to give you more freedom on walkies whilst simultaneously increasing your momma awareness.

Me: The only freedom I'll have is an increased awareness that I can outrun you when the dragon swoops in.

Momma: Please, Pea, for me?

Me: I love it when you call me Pea. It makes me feel all squishy inside. But the answer is still no.

Momma: I'll take that as a yes.


Me: Hey momma! Pay attention! My leash is draggin' in the dirt and.... oh.... I see. 
Dragon. Draggin'. The two words were so much alike.

Momma: They were. They still are, though years have rolled over their heads.

Me: And I suppose now you expect me to say something like "Well, Momma, if you conscientiously feel that it is your duty to Leash Dragon me, I cannot blame you for acting on that conviction."

Momma: Well, yes, that's the idea.

Dexter done!

P.S. From Momma:

Leash dragging is, indeed, an exercise to provide a bit more freedom on walkies, allow the handler to practice verbal commands at a distance, and minimize the signals coming down the leash. First, let me point out that Dexter is five years old, a lab, has had many hours of training, and been on well over 1000 walks with me. Which is to say that we do not have issues with persistent pulling or crazies on our walks, but could use a tune up.

Attach a long line to your dog, hold the handle loosely in your hand and go (allowing the slack to drag along the ground). Minimize verbal commands. The idea is for your dog to know where you are. Give him or her a pat and a "good dog" whenever he or she returns to your side. Practice in an open area at first, with lots of changes in direction, starts, and stops. Don't look at your dog. Just go about your business.

We've been letting the leash drag on and off for a week or so to great effect. I am relying on voice commands to ask him to stop at street crossings, but letting the leash tell him when to move along or slow down. I still reel him in for close encounters, but overall, a big improvement. While he can feel the drag of the leash, it is a consistent pull, not directed at me. 

I use a 20 foot, half inch, canvas leash. I also have a 50 footer for open spaces, but have found that to get quite heavy and bogged down. Our land speed is improved as well since when he pauses to snuffle I can walk right by him and should he still be snuffling when I reach the end of the 20 feet, I just keep going with a short jerk and we are away. I doubt I will ever have the confidence to go off leash, that's just not in my nature, but I am enjoying more relaxed walks and when I switch back to the six footer for our evening strolls, there is more loose leash than ever before.

Here's a very short video of Dex demonstrating his "wait."


  1. OMD DEXTER that is one SCARY DRAGON. BUTT We guess that you showed HIM who is boss!!!

  2. Nice work, Dexter! Our Mom has a Leash Dragon, too, and in the summertime we will work on our walking technique. Although, really, what is up with humans and walking? You move two feet forward, you move two more feet forward. It's not rocket science. But maybe because humans only have two feet, they get confused. We walk Just Fine, and yet Mom insists on doing 'leash work' occasionally. Maybe she just gets bored... Silly people, our Mommas. :-)

    *kissey face*
    -Fiona and Abby the Hippobottomus

    PeeEss: Love the header photo - we've had really warm weather as of late and most of our snow is *gasp* GONE!

  3. I've been practicing with the Dragon, too. He doesn't scare me! Nice "wait" Dex!!


  4. Good Dog! Me and the muzzer do what she calls "loose lead" but it is only ten feet! And I am not good at WAIT but i will SIT immediately. Makes my butt hurt, but it is my finest trick. Gussie

  5. Good Dog! Me and the muzzer do what she calls "loose lead" but it is only ten feet! And I am not good at WAIT but i will SIT immediately. Makes my butt hurt, but it is my finest trick. Gussie

  6. We use the retractable lead or we're off-lead. We're very long as there are no cats.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  7. That is great work Dex! You are much more compliant than Ma's dismay. She trys, bless her heart, butts if I see a tree rat or somethin' else, well, I just can't helps myself!! hehehe
    Ma does get me to sit at corners when she stops, I sit. Peeps in cars thinks it's cute and laugh...

  8. a long line really isn't too far away from off leash! you never know how far training will take you :)

  9. Very nice....butt what happens if a tree rat crosses your path???

  10. Very nice. Those leash dragons are something else
    Benny & Lily

  11. Hey Dexter, your Momma didn't actually sing those bits at you did she? Our human sings to us all the time (though she saves the dying-cow singing to torture other humans with).

    We just look at her like she's crazy and sigh.

    Puppy kisses
    Sasha & Trixie

  12. Dex is a fine example of a Lab. Mom wants us to ask Miss Nancy if your old Dale was as obedient? Hmmmm wonder why she asks THAT?!!
    Smooches from pooches,
    BabyRD & Hootie

  13. We betcha one day soon, you'll be hiking in the woods with your momma leash-free, Dexter!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  14. Dang I is impressed! Although I is embarrassed cuz I not thinks I has been on a million walks. Thank goodness it is gettin' warm heres so I can go on more was almost 80 degrees her yesterday...yippie!!!!!
    I am gonna has mum try dis technique. Thanks fur explainin' it.


  15. I like his understanding of leash dragons! BOL!

  16. Love the disclaimer. Sissy will never, ever, EVER have any real freedom, despite how well she does most commands when ... performing. Her hunting instincts are too high, and with the glaucoma and serious food allergies, we just can't take any risks.

    Gg is another story. She's been reliable off-leash basically since day #1, but because she is so timid, I keep her leashed for her own safety.

    And thanks too for the reminder that a lot of words sound alike for a dog!

    Go Dexter!

  17. How I wish I could have the leash as long as yours! Your momma is so sweet and kind!


  18. That is a great way to go for a walk and not have you arm pulled out of its socket. We will do some work on that too.

  19. Clearly, the ground is not as muddy round your way as it is in Scotland.
    Toodle pip!

  20. We do similar exercises with a 30ft leash! And, like you, the momma would wet her pants if she tried me off leash!

  21. Gosh, I was worried it was a real dragon at first! ;)

    I do the 20 foot leash with Blueberry too. I also would not be brave enough to let her off leash - but the 20 feet gives her enough freedom to explore so we are both comfortable. I do attach the leash to a carabiner on my belt loop which makes it even nicer since I have free hands to pick up her droppings or take pictures!

  22. Well, as long as it's not Henry the Dragon from the Wizard of Id comic strip, Dex is probably safe. It's nice that he can have extra snuffling time whilst you continue strolling!

  23. He is such a good boy! Very handsome, too.

    We use this method with Bella in the yard and when we're out on trail walks. Letting her off-leash is very scary but this method gives her some freedom to make decisions which is good for her confidence.

    It's funny, when we first took her off-leash in her agility class, we were really nervous but her instructor told us "You'll find you have an imaginary 20-foot lead and she won't go much past it." Sure enough, I think it was all that "Dragon" training we've done. :)

    Good job, Dexter dude.

  24. I have a flying purple dragon that I like to chase. Come to think of it, I haven't seen him since I chewed off one of his dragon paws. But your dragon looks much scarier!

    Your "wait" is awesome dude!

    your pal,

  25. Without realizing what I was doing at the time, I've done the same with a few of the pack. I'll be sure and pay more attention to them now that I've read PS from Momma. Thanks! We prefer off leash, yes, even the blind ones, but sometimes, depending on where we are, leashes are required.

  26. Hey, Dex, we're glad that the Leash Dragon turned out to be something good! Enjoy your leash dragging walkies!

  27. Hey Dude, you look pretty ok with that leash draggin. My Vickie did that with me, I found it very annoying but it did slow me down and now I get to go off lead a whole lot more cause I learned to stay closer to her.


  28. Aaaw Dexter, you is just tooooooooooo cute! The Lazy Butt lets me off leash every now and then. But I was naughty on Saturday when she let me off leash. I spied a tree rat and went running after it! It ran up a tree and then I kept running in circles around the tree and I wouldn't let The LB catch me! BOL!!

    Your Pal,

    Miss Fendi HoneyBuzz

  29. Now you've gone and given our Mom ideas.....

    Lilly, Piper, Celti and Ivy

  30. Oh, whew. I get it now. I was afraid there was a real dragon involved at first.
    I think this is great for Labs! Siberians. … not so much.
    Play bows,

  31. On our wood hikes Delilah is always walked on the long leash as she's not reliable with her recall.

    Just an fyi, if he tends to be a runner, that long leash can really jerk you when he hits the end of it. :-( I know from experience.

  32. I was laughing too hard when I saw your leash dragon it looks great on you! :)

  33. Cool technique! I must try that leash dragon on Mom heh heh heh ;P

    BOL on the dragon photo - too much! Ha!

    Waggin at ya,

  34. We did a similar exercise in class. We fastened the 30 foot leash around our waists and crossed our arms so we couldn't grab it. Then we had to walk with a loose leash. At first it was a little rocky, but they finally got the idea.

  35. hello dexter its dennis the vizsla dog hay dada likes yore littel dragon frend and is kalling him lockheed and asking ware kitty pryde is!!! i hav no ideea wot he is tawking abowt as yoozhual!!! ok bye