Why Are You Struggling to Walk Your Dog?
Have you ever watched an expert dog trainer work with a dog?
When they take the leash from you after you just about have to pry open every finger because it feels like your hands have been fused into position around the leash because you’re holding it so tightly! They seem to be able to control your dog with the use of just two fingers lightly holding the leash and the leash laying limply in their hands. And your dog behaves impeccably…
You just about start to think “why did I even pay for dog training” when your dog trainer says “OK, now you try!” And then as if just the act of you taking the leash back turns your dog back into the “possessed” monster you handed over to the trainer. And you suddenly remember why you called the dog trainer.
After months or even years of trying it yourself, you had finally conceded that this dog needed expert help!
You really tried. Your friend’s dog was an absolute sweetheart and they didn’t need a dog trainer. What are you doing wrong?
OK. How do I know this scenario so well – because this was me.
Whenever the trainer took Zakkie he behaved like an angel. Whenever I had the leash I might as well have strapped on a couple of rollerblades and enjoyed the ride because I had no control over that dog.
Obviously, it wasn’t impossible. I just lacked the skills. I didn’t know what I was doing.
It took me another 5 years just to get a handle on the leash. Well, the first 3 years I just totally stopped walking altogether and my dogs and I became superstars in our own back yard. I focussed on using food and toys to teach my dogs what I want and left the leash alone because it was just too difficult.
I walked my dogs on head halters instead. My dogs hated it. OK, not really Kaz. Because I did such a great job getting her used to the head halter that she pulled through that as well.
So walks became a rarity.
But my dogs could turn heads on the obedience field at least. But that didn’t mean I had any leash handling skills.
It wasn’t until one day that I decided “stuff this, it can’t be that hard” that I tried something different.
I tried imagining what I would look like walking Zak on a perfect loose lead. I imagined getting my timing right and as if by magic my leash walking started to improve.
OK, it wasn’t that magical. I already understood how it should work by that point. It was just my brain and my hands weren’t talking to each other. And that’s where running it through my head helped. That’s where visualization made the difference.
It’s already been proven with top level athletes that visualization can help Olympians perform better. So if it works for Olympians, why are we not using it to help ourselves work on our skills. At first I dismissed visualization as well. But, I struggled with this so much and I was getting so frustrated because I seemingly just couldn’t get it!
Now, please don’t think I’m telling you that visualization is going to magically give you skills that you have no concept about. Leash handling is a skill. It needs to be learned and practiced. Just because you have a leash in your hand doesn’t mean you’ll magically develop leash handling skills – no matter how much you visualize it.
You not only need to know what the mechanics look like but you also need to understand why you need to do what you’re doing and how timing influences your dog. Only then can visualization help your leash handling skills so that you can successfully use your leash to help your dog understand how you would like them to behave.
So go and see a good dog trainer who can teach you leash handling skills so that you can enjoy your dog more!
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What information is in there? Tips to help you with walking your dog on lead, toilet training, problem barking and so much more!