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The Many Ways a Leash Gets in the Way

August 2, 2016

The Perils of a Tight Leash

As the cartoon to the right shows, a dog’s leash can be more than just a way to stay physically connected to your dog. The cartoon correctly shows how a tight leash can give all dogs, not just small dogs, a false feeling of confidence and assertiveness.

Along with false confidence and assertiveness, a tight leash can transmit to a dog a sense of arousal, tenseness or uncertainty. In the training of protection or attack dogs a tight leash is purposefully used and is critical for arousing the dog and setting the dog on edge – the tight leash actually encourages the dog to bite!Comic

A tight leash not only transmits arousal to your dog, it alters how your dog looks to other dogs or people you may meet. Notice in the first panel of the cartoon the little dog is reared up on his back legs and leaning forward? Even if he wasn’t snarling, the dog would look aggressive. In canine speak, a dog rearing up and leaning forward, even if standing on all four feet, will be perceived by other dogs as being assertive, and perhaps, aggressive possibly provoking the other dogs to respond in kind. Notice how the bigger dog stopped his aggressive behavior in the third panel of the cartoon? The little dog’s posture had changed allowing the bigger dog to relax. In many ways, this cartoon is very true to life.

A tight leash also shows the lack of cooperation and companionship between dog and owner. The dog doesn’t have think about you – he knows exactly where you are. Do a little role playing and consider how you would feel if it was your friend instead of your dog dragging you down the street. Wouldn’t you feel your friend was being rude and inconsiderate? Well, then, so is your dog being rude and inconsiderate. But, on the other hand, the tension YOU put on the leash is also being rude and inconsiderate to your dog.

What is meant by tight leash? The meaning of the term tight leash, at least for the purpose of this article, means the owner and the dog are both pulling on the leash. As you can see in the cartoon, both the owner and the dog are pulling against each other. This is something we all unconsciously and subtly do.

The leash often becomes a crutch to both the dog and owner. The owner is deathly afraid to let go, afraid the dog will run away because the dog doesn’t have the training he needs to remain safe, and the dog relies on the tightness of the leash to keep track of his owner. We unintentionally teach the dog that the only way to walk through life with us is by pulling on the leash.

The collar and leash should be no more than a safety device, not a method to restrain the dog. As the cartoon shows, a tight leash can cause many problems. To foster our dog’s cooperation and consideration we both must learn to walk together on a loose leash.

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