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Your leash is sending messages to your dog!

Today I would like to explain why I always ask guardians to take a traditional leash during classes.


We have two types of leashes:

  1. Classic leash, i.e. braided or webbing, without surges or with wheels that allow changing its length.

  2. Automatic leash, the so-called flexi (the name comes from the brand's first leash of this type, Flexi) with an automatic winding and unwinding tape and a lock button (permanent and temporary) and a plastic handle to hold.




What exactly is the leash for?


Why do we have a leash? Well...

  • So that the quadruped would not escape.

  • To pull him in the direction we want to go.

  • To prevent him from running to every dog and person he encounters.

  • To prevent the dog from following smells of old bun or piece of ham and to consume these treasures.


Looking at people walking with dogs, I often get the impression that a leash is actually used only for prohibitions and orders.


Or is it? No. The leash is used to communicate with the dog and, although it seems strange, it is a cable through which our emotions flow to the dog. But we will get to that in a moment.


However, people are comfortable and lazy by nature, so in the 70s of the last century someone came up with the idea that instead of following your dog into every bush, he could create a tool that works by itself. The dog wants to move away - he moves away, the dog wants to come to us - he approaches, and a long rope does not wind around us and the dog, but this rope curls elegantly and hygienically into a small handle. And an automatic leash was created, loved by many owners.


Why don't I want a flexi leash?


1. The key is the automatic leash mechanism: to get somewhere the dog must pull, i.e. overcome some resistance. In the case of a large dog, pulling is not so strongly felt for him, but a small dog will quickly get the feeling that pulling causes increased opportunities to explore the environment.


And in a very simple way we teach our dog to overcome the resistance of a leash on walks.


The problem occurs in two situations.

  • First of all, when the leash breaks (and most of the available and cheaper automatic leashes have a relatively short lifespan), we will have to switch temporary to walking on an ordinary leash. By this time your is convinced that if he pulls it, he can go wherever he wants. Your walk will turn into a nightmare and your dog will pull you into every bush on the road.

  • The second problematic situation is walking, where the dog cannot sniff freely and we want to keep him on a short leash close to us. When another dog arrives or a cyclist rides, we pull the leash to the maximum and the dog completely doesn’t understand why the leash does not stretch out, hangs strangled and pulls even harder. We pass the threat and give the dog the full length of the line because we also have enough of jerking our poor shoulder by a beloved pet. Of course, this is received as a reward: "I pulled like crazy, so that my eyes almost jumped out of their orbit, and jumped like a frog leaping forward and see! I'm free! I will always do this! "

And we will always have a snarling hangman instead of a calmly walking dog.





2. When working with a dog, I put a lot of emphasis on walking on a loose leash, because loose hanging means that the dog is nothing less than his walker is relaxed. Just a slight tension of the leash or tightening the hand holding it, for the dog to receive a message that his guardian was stressed and took a defensive position.


And what does the automatic leash have to do with it? Well, it is constantly tense and the dog constantly feels a slight resistance, which he reads as a guardian tension. And he is always ready to defend the lord. There is a whole walk in such a light state of arousal, which results in the fact that it is much easier to cause an explosion of emotions (barking, chasing, biting) than a dog that walks on a hanging rope.


3. We can't use a flexi leash!


I love the thin strings that cut the pavement. As a Polish runner once wrote in a column: "If you run on the sidewalk and you see a man on one side and a dog on the other, know that the leash connects them somewhere" and don't fall over!


I can't take my eyes off the dog barking at the cyclist and flying the entire length of the leash, while the owner flies behind him.


And the most I can not get over how chaotic the dogs behave on an automatic leash: we walk, but the dog comes running, so we suddenly block the line, the dog does not know why it does not pull out suddenly, we unblock - it can go, we block, because the car is driving - again a jerk. Phew. Click, shzzzzz, click, shzzzzz. You can go crazy!


Such a dog is neither easygoing nor calm, and the walk becomes unpredictable and chaotic for him, so (which I see too often!) he runs from one side of the sidewalk to the other, wanting to catch as many smells from the world before clicking again to jerk his neck.

Not only that, he is becoming frustrated and overly tense, he can eventually join the group of fearful and aggressive dogs.


And the truth is that our dog just can't walk on a leash, and we can't walk him on a leash. We pay off our comfort and laziness with behavioral problems.


4. If the automatic leash is used incorrectly, it also happens that the dog's guardian lets him stay slightly behind (e.g. 5-6 meters, because the dog wanted to sniff something) and accelerate to the end of the leash (e.g. 8 meters). This gives a total of 13-14 meters of take-off run and gains a certain speed. It doesn't matter if we lock the tape with the button or the leash ends, there will be a very strong jerk. It is dangerous for our four-legged friend! With a sudden, strong jerk, a dog that is fastened on the collar can damage his neck, including both the respiratory tract and the cervical vertebrae.


A very bad and dangerous idea for our dog's health is also to attach a flexi to a spiked collar or Gentle Leader. This is a nightmare idea!


5. At the moment when my pupils practice with dogs passing the threats or focusing attention, they reach for treats very quickly. And I see how bad it is when they miss an additional third hand. We can put an ordinary leash on our hand and also feed a dog with this hand or pull out treats from a sachet. With this plastic handle, it is not feasible to grab or keep anything else. Your one hand is occupied at all times. If the dog moves away from us, the leash alone will not attract him to us, so we must either run after him (the dog will still be moving away because we are chasing him) or help him with the other hand. And you still have to reward the dog, look around, open the sachet.


Without free hands, I don't see the sense of the exercise.


6. And sometimes you have to catch the leash with your other hand closer to the dog, e.g. in the middle of the length of the line. Have you tried doing it with a flexi cord? You’ll need some protection gloves!


7. Don't drop!


Once a friend of mine dropped a flexi leash to the ground, for which her dog jumped like a boar and galloped off, and the terrible noise did not want to stop chasing him, so he became more and more panic. Nothing funny, I wish this no one.


And dropping plastic is relatively easy.


Who is the automatic leash for?

I believe that the flexi leash can be used for adult, balanced and calm dogs that are already able to walk on a loose leash.


I also understand its use if we want to give the dog some freedom in a specific place (e.g. in the park where we can't let the dog free), and the training rope can get tangled in tall grass or in grass full of dog droppings.


However, this cannot replace slow running.


If you have a puppy or dog that pulls on a leash, jumps to other dogs and is difficult to control during walks, an automatic leash will definitely not be the right walking tool for you.

Time together, not between a plastic machine.


If you see a dog in the city that, with an unbuttoned chest and a high tail, walks a few meters in front of its owner, and the automatic leash is taut like an eraser from underpants, then you need to know that something in their relationships is broken.


For me, a walk with a dog is spending time together. No clicking, no scrape of the pull-out tape and no plastic clamp in hand.


Let's not spend it ten meters away, but spend it at ease.

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