Τετάρτη, 27 Αυγούστου 2014

My Dog Has A Fear Of The Leash. Heres What To Do...




Exercise is a major part of our dogs lives.





Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, tells us that to maintain a healthy relationship with our beloved pooches, that relationship should consist of 50% physical exercise, 25% discipline, and 25% affection. Thats a lot of exercise! In order for us to be able to enjoy exercising our dogs as much as they need, its important for them to behave well both on the lead. Unfortunately, there are many dogs out there who are afraid of the leash itself resulting in neurotic, fearful, submissive behavior whenever the lead comes out. In this newsletter, well take a look at the most effective way to deal with fear of the leash.





Fear of the Leash





The majority of the time, the sight of the leash is enough to bring on a fit of joy the dog knows that leash = walk, and reacts accordingly.



For some dogs, though, the leash connotes fear and submissiveness more than anything else. Perhaps the leash was used in a negative way with a previous owner as a tool for dragging the dog around. Perhaps it was used to confine the dog for long hours at a time. In some extreme cases, dogs have even been whipped with the leash as punishment. Or perhaps your dog is just very highly strung, and is prone to developing phobias seemingly arbitrarily. Although fear of the leash can have a severely negative impact on your walks with your dog, the good news is that its easy to cure.





You just need some patience and some basic equipment.





What youll need





A leash, made of webbing or leather. Approximately 5 feet (1.25 meters) is a good length, as it enables control without risk of the dog getting tangled in the leash when out walking. Chain-link leashes arent recommended, as theyre hard on the hands and also can flick the dog in the face, which isnt something youd want to inflict on any dog, let alone one thats suffering from fear of the leash! - A good-quality collar, again made of leather or nylon webbing. If youre using one with a snap-lock, make sure its safety-approved and wont come undone under pressure. Slip-chain collars (also known as choke-chains or check-chains) should never be used on an unattended dog, as theyre a training tool, not a real collar. - A little bit of time, and a little bit of patience.





What to Do





* Your aim here is to accustom your dog to the lead a little bit at a time, keeping him well within his comfort zone at each step of the way. Because hes already got a fear of the leash, some discomfort in its presence is to be expected, but watch out for signs of extreme fear:





* hyperventilating,





* drooling,





* submissive urination,





* rolling eyes (often showing the whites).





So step one: remember to take baby steps at all times!





* If hes really afraid of the leash, youll need to accustom him to it very slowly indeed.





* Practice leaving it out in full view, preferably in fun places: next to his food bowl, in preferred play areas, near his bed.





* Once hes stopped reacting to the sight of it, introduce the leash to him in a more active manner. You can do this by wrapping it around your hand as you pet and groom him.





* Hold the leash in your hand as you prepare his food; sit by him and stroke him, with the leash wrapped around your hand, as he eats. Keep this up until hes stopped showing any signs of discomfort it may take some time, but remember that youre aiming to accustom him comfortably to the leash. Any rushing is counterproductive.





* When hes not showing any signs of nervousness with this level of progress, you can start attaching the leash to his collar.





* Put him in a sit-stay, using a firm, calm voice, and clip the leash on. Dont make a big deal out of it: your dog will take his emotional and psychological cues from your behavior. If you act as though its not a big deal, hell follow your lead.





* Once the leash is on, give him some time to get used to the sensation of something hanging off his neck. He may get a little panicky at this stage, and start pawing at his neck and trying to rub the leash off along the ground. If hes showing signs of nervousness, distract him with a game: a short game of tug-o-war (providing he knows to drop the toy when youve had enough) is a good idea; if he can run without getting tangled in the leash, play a short game of fetch; or, if the two of you are outside in a safely enclosed area, you can go for a short walk.





* Dont attempt to touch the leash at this stage, just let him walk around freely. - Take the leash off after five minutes or so, and praise him lavishly for being such a good boy.





* Give him a couple of small, tasty treats, and lots of petting. - Repeat these last three steps several more times before progressing to the next level: you want to give him plenty of opportunities to get used to the sensation of the leash itself before you start using it to control his walking.





* The more positive associations he forms with the leash (which he will do through the games, walks, and treats while wearing it), the better for his progress.





Next, its time for a short obedience-training session while hes wearing the leash. Five minutes is plenty: practice a sit-stay and the recall command (come) while hes wearing the leash. This will reinforce your authority and leadership, and remind him that hes still expected to obey you while wearing the leash. - When hes readily obeying your commands with the leash on, you can take him for a short walk while hes wearing it. If hes jumpy, do not reinforce his nervousness by rewarding him with attention. Simply ignore him and carry on walking. Remember, he takes his cues from you, so keep calm and wait for it to pass.





If, at any point, you feel that hes simply too nervous to proceed (for example, if hes still panicking after three or four minutes of walking on the leash), go back to the level at which he was last 100% comfortable.





Wait a few days at this stage before attempting to proceed. Things to Remember





* Remember to be patient! Dont attempt to rush your dogs progress: using force is counterproductive to your end goal.





* Youre teaching him to relax and be calm around the leash





* if you get stressed or frustrated with his lack of progress, hell be able to tell, and his anxiety levels will increase, not decrease.





* Remember not to indulge his nervousness or coddle him if he plays up or gets nervous. If you react to his crying and trembling with petting and cooing, you are telling him that its OK to feel like that.





* If hes nervous, either ignore it and carry on, or distract him with a game or short walk.





* If hes still panic-stricken after three or four minutes, revert to the previous step and give it more time.





This should go without saying, but never correct or punish him for skittishness or nervous behavior again, its counterproductive in the extreme.


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