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.
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."