Monday, June 09, 2003

Pulling on the Leash Does It In

On Friday, while we were out for a walk, Tika yanked on the leash (wow! what a surprise!) and the handle loop separated from the leash. I've never had a leash come apart before. For all my previous 4 dogs, leashes lasted pretty much forever, until they'd get so faded and frayed around the edges that I'd replace them. Maybe once for each dog; maybe not. I had just bought Rem a new one last year because the one we bought him 9 years ago was so faded, but still sturdy and functional.

So I bought a new leash that is doubly stitched at the handle.

'Course not of my dogs have yanked as long and as hard at the leash as Tika has. Rem was quite a puller, but our instructor at the time had him on a prong collar within about 3 months after he came to live with us, which reduced his pulling quite a bit more than anything I've managed with Tika. (Mind you, it didn't eliminate the pulling. He always viewed that collar as an inconvenience, but eventually after probably a couple of years he got to where he mostly didn't pull--except when he was excited--and even then, a gentle pop or two on the leash was enough to remind him to slack off.) Nowadays no one wants to recommend prong collars.

But--jeez-- My back started hurting a lot on Sunday (who knows why), and every yank from Tika came like a karate chop on the muscles. To get from our set-up out to the exercise yard required about a 200-foot walk. Tika excited. Step/yank/stop/wait for her to come back next to me. Step/yank/stop/wait for her to come back next to me. Not only painful, but pretty frustrating, too.

I tried John Rogerson's couple of suggested methods, which involve grabbing the leash right near the collar and pulling the dog *forward* (since most dogs resist being pulled forward), but after 2 days of that, my back was really killing me, so those just don't work for someone who shouldn't be bending & twisting like that, at least not for a dog who's had over a year's experience in the Joy of Pulling.

I don't know what happened. After Rem died, I decided that absolutely I was going to fix the pulling on the leash problem and I was going to be absolutely totally consistent with handling her when we attempted to go for a walk. You might remember that within a week or 2 we were actually walking a block with hardly any tugging. And then she got worse again, and I don't think I got less consistent! Wed & Thurs last week, I couldn't even get out of my street again--couldn't complete more than a few steps without her yanking on the leash.

Tune in next week, same tug-time, same tug-channel, for our next failed strategy.

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