Thursday, July 23, 2009

Training Rant - Loose Leash Walking

This is one of the things that drives me crazy! So many people out there can't be bothered to teach their dog not to pull on a leash (or maybe they don't know how). ARGH!!

Yesterday, I saw a lady with someone I could only assume was her 10 year old daughter walking a young yellow lab (dog looked about 1.5-2 yrs). They were walking along a very busy road. The daughter had ahold of the 6 ft leash - not the adult. (From the looks of it, the adult's hands were empty.) The dog was pulling for most of the walk that I saw and the daughter was obviously struggling.


This is something I see all the time and it is SO dangerous! Each and every dog I foster is taught how to walk on a loose leash before I will consider adopting them out because it is so very important.

What do you think would have happened had the dog run out onto the road?

How about the following scanario ...

The dog sees a cat/squirrel/other dog on the other side of the road. Dog runs out and across the road. Daughter has the leash looped around her wrist and can't let go fast enough. Daughter is dragged out in front of cars. Car in near side of road is able to stop in time (whew!) but truck on other side of road has heavy load and needs extra room to down-shift and stop (yikes!). Dog and Daughter are hit by truck. SPLAT! That is one big mess to clean up.

All for the sake of a bit of training.


Splash said...

Young Labs, particularly those being walked by children, should always be wearing a head harness or pinch collar. Period. I don't care how well trained the dog is.

That's 25 years of owning and training Labs talking, right there.

Splash said...

My rant:

When folks type "lab" when they are referring to a Labrador, a.k.a. Lab. Stop it. A "lab" is where experiments and tests are performed. But you knew that.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Splash ...

Thanks for your take on this.

RE: lab vs Lab ...

I tend to go back and forth between the capitalization of breed names; it's not only one breed. After a quick search through some of my previous posts, I notice I've done this with multiple breeds. I hereby apologize for my lack of proper spelling on nouns. I will increase my efforts to prevent future errors.

2halves said...

And not to mention the damage that's being done to the dogs throat. And don't even get me started on the pullers who are walked on Flexi's!

mytwh said...

It didn't take me long at all to teach the new kid, Dominic to walk beside he with a loose leash. It's really not a hard concept. My father (who's dog drags him everywhere) thinks I should let him have the whole leash and sniff around. As I've explained to him, if I did that, Dominic would be dead at least 6 times over by now, due to his fear (which is also almost gone-yay!) of trash cans which he used to swerve into the street (or try to) to avoid. By keeping him on a short loose leash by my side, I know I have avoided him being hit quite a few times.

I'm lucky enough to have different trails I can walk the boys on, so each walk they get some safe off leash time and I told my dad that this is where they're aloud to sniff around. But when we're walking, no way Jose.

The only time he doesn't heel so well is when there are a lot of dogs around (like at obedience class) so I use a gentle leader at those times. It's the only time he needs it and by the end of the 6 weeks he was doing a lot better around the dogs.

mytwh said...

Oh, and I will admit my sins-I use Flexi-leashes! There is a good reason though, I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome so it's easier for me to grasp the larger handle while taking longer walks. It's very had to hold the small leash loop for any length of time.

So, I do use the Flexi's for exercise, but for working we always use the "proper" leash.

Viatecio said...

I think what irks me slightly more than your rant is when people walk their dogs on harnesses and tell me that "He just pulls so bad."

So you just gave up on him and made it more comfortable for him to pull, rather than put in the effort with a good trainer to TEACH him to not pull? Wow, if we gave up on children so easily..."Guess he's just not fit for regular classes since I can't get him off that PlayStation. Special ed it is!" (No offense toward anyone with children in special ed of course. It is a good program for those who need it.)

Splash, you advice is with the best of intentions, but people need to learn why they're using that equipment and how to use it properly...another major pet peeve is a HORRIBLY fitted pinch collar! I also can't help but mention the dog that's scratching frantically at his halter, and the owner saying "Tsk, he just doesn't like the thing, but he's been wearing it for a month and he should be used to it"...USE SOMETHING ELSE ALREADY.

Splash said...


I disagree. I would rather see a Lab with a pinch collar than a harness (useless!), a flat collar (ditto!), or worst of all, a choke chain. Even with a novice handler. The pinch doesn't affect a big Labbie neck all that much, and if a squirrel or cute kittie should happen by, it pays to have power steering for the safety of both members of the team.

Although I use a halter on my BC, I dislike using it on my Labs -- I have seen them almost get whiplash from them -- and no I didn't move an inch, they did.

Remember, Labs are bred to be physically insensitive. My BC and my Doberman wouldn't jump into Lake Tahoe in the winter. My Labs think it's great fun. They are tough, friendly, and willing to do anything for you.

It is good for most trainers to keep in mind that the Labrador is not related to the other Retrievers. The Labrador is actually a miniature Newfoundland. So think Newfie attitude and you will be closer to the mark.

Okay geez this was a rambling comment. Don't get me started on Labs, I do not stop. Sorry!

BTW, just remembered a great article on the Labrador. Here it is, from the APDT:

Viatecio said...

Nono, Splash, I think you misread me: I agree with you fully! I'd rather see a pinch collar than a harness than a halter, etc. I just don't think people should go out and buy one without knowing how to use it and why they're using it! I used to work at a pet retail store and whenever I'd see people tossing pinch collars over their dog's head like horseshoes, I'd make a beeline over there and help them fit it properly. They were always thankful when they saw how important fit was when it came to function. I'm not a big fan of the halters, but when I saw someone with a fussy dog, I'd ask if they'd be willing to at least try something else, because obviously the dog isn't enjoying the walk as much as the GL pamphlet in their vet's office had led them to believe.

Once I get out of school and get into real life though, I will be working with Schutzhund and police K9s. No halters on those dogs, so I'm just going with what past experience, seminars, trainers and my future will lead me to anyway.

I have a Lab/golden, by the way, so I understand where you're coming from. :)

Whipple said...

I feel like I have come home! Everyone here is sensible and smart! I don't know how many times Ive ranted to my boyfriend over all this, and sadly he just doesnt get it. But he wont argue about it at least.
I just want to hug you all! Hehe

mytwh said...

I realized last night that I put "aloud" instead of "allowed" - I must be turning into a CL moron!

BTW, I'm starting work with a local rescue to foster dogs. Any advise for a new fosterer??? Any tips would be appreciated! Thanks!

GoLightly said...

"applause" to all:)

(tsk-tsk DDF, for her capitalization FAIL:)

all so true...

I wonder, are Labs truly physically insensitive, or incredibly stoic/hard-working/motivated to the extreme?

How do they test for that?
Maybe I don't want to know?

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

What great comments everyone!

2halves ...

Yes, this is also true. Depending on the dog, you could have damage to the trachea. Some dogs' eyes can pop out too ... that's not pretty

mytwh ...

Funny how if you start them off right, it takes no time at all to teach! I'm so glad to hear Dominic is doing well.

Aloud / allowed ... I'm not the only one failing on the spelling this week, eh? lol ... :)

Does he want to go play with the other dogs? Why not set up some play dates or go to a local dog park before your obedience classes? You may find that he will get all his socializing out that way and then he may heel better for you in the ring.

Flexi user! Danger danger! Make sure the plastic lock doesn't break on you - I've seen a few where the plastic breaks and the leash doesn't lock resulting in, yep, you got it ... splat. I saw some nice big D-Rings at PetSmart last time I was there to help with this, but I don't know what their PSI is ...

Viatecio ...

Yes, harnesses bother me too - stupid people, what do they think it was designed for? I think I have ranted about them in the past ... but I'll do a search. Maybe we're due for one.

Splash and Viatecio ...

I think I would still like to see people teaching their dog how to walk on a loose leash.

(You all know my preference is the martingale, so I won't get into the collar choices - you can hash it out)

Whipple ...

Welcome! Put your feet up and stay a while. I started the blog because my family got tired of listening to me rant at them - haha

GoLightly ...

Yes, I will hang my head in shame ... I should know better. When I get ranting I get a bit excited and forget to check things like capitalizations.

Regarding Labs - I've met all sorts. I've found that when given a specific job with boundaries, they can be quite laid back when not working (but look out when they are on the job!!). Every Lab I've met has been intense and motivated, but if they have an outlet for that energy are more likely to be friendly, happy and well placed members of the family (with minimal undesirable behaviours).

I don't know about testing - perhaps with specific trials?