Dog on the Couch

2017-03-23 06:02

I HAVE a very stubborn dog that pulls back or lies down when I try to put on a leash. I have tried a chain and a slip-leash. How can I get this dog to be more obedient?

Concerned

From the little information I have, my answer would be that you need to build the dog’s confidence. Your dog is displaying fearful and appeasement body language, not being stubborn or disobedient. I also strongly advise against the use of any collar or leash that may result in pain and damage to a dog’s neck. If you press around your throat you will find a very sensitive area which will register pain where when pushed slightly.

Pressure in this area will provoke a fight, flight, freeze or flee response in both humans and dogs because our very life supply can be disrupted by being choked. Your dog may have previously been pulled around in this manner and learned to associate walking on a leash with pain.

Many of the differences between dogs and humans are obvious, but the many similarities are not generally recognised.

If you run your hands carefully around your own neck and then repeat the exercise on your dog, you will find that the trachea, esophagus, thyroid gland, lymph nodes, jugular vein, muscles and spinal column are similarly located. And although the dog’s skin is covered with fur, it is approximately two-thirds thinner than ours.

The thyroid gland is crucial to the control of many vital bodily functions. Located at the base of the neck, below the larynx, it and the larynx are very close to the position in which we fit the collar.

This gland is critical to the dog’s health. If your dog is pulling hard on the leash, or if you are being obliged to yank at the leash, pressure is obviously being conveyed to the collar and to the vulnerable area. It has been shown that the gland is traumatised when subjected to such pressures.

This can result in the dog’s immune system attempting to expel the inflamed cells, which in turn can lead to a condition that saps energy and can cause all manner of health problems including weight-gain, skin troubles, falling fur, ear infections and organ failure.

It has also been established that choke collars impact on other areas of the body. For example, a study concluded that pressure in the eyes is increased significantly by pulling on a choke chain or leash. This is clearly all the more dangerous if your dog is suffering from corneas, glaucoma or some other condition of the eyes or other vulnerable part of the body.

In the case of dogs or situations in which problems as noted above are likely to arise, I would strongly advise the use of an easy-pull harness or even an ordinary harness.

You will need to accustom the dog to the harness before you attempt attaching a leash. Then you can attach a leash and allow the dog to drag the leash around a bit while throwing treats on the floor. Gradually lift the leash but make sure you keep it slack, and don’t pull. Then gradually walk a few steps with the dog.

Susan Henderson - (accredited animal behaviourist)

info@dogboxtrainingschool.co.za

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