A couple of weeks ago, Christopher and I welcomed a new addition into our family. She is an almost 1 1/2 year old Australian Shepherd mix. She came with the name “Miss Bella”, but didn’t seem particularly attached or responsive to Bella, so we renamed her Clio (at the suggestion of my 6 year old niece). My first dog’s name was Bella, so it didn’t feel right anyway.
The first couple of days when she joined us on our family morning walks, I leashed up Finnegan with the Gentle Leader that I used every time I walk him. Clio only weighs 40 lbs, though….how much trouble could she be? I hooked the leash directly to her collar and off we went.
Saw our first bird—she went ballistic. Saw our first dog behind a fence—she went ballistic. Saw a dog about 100 feet away—you guessed it. During the week, Christopher and I walk the dogs alone, and he was having the same experience. Her form of ballistic was quite graceful and ballet-like…flipping into the air while “singing” in a LOUD falsetto voice. Not what I was going for at all.
So, off to the pet store to get a Gentle Leader. So many people through the years of owning Dawg House have asked me about leash training. It is quite common to simply want to go for a nice walk with your dog, and have it quickly turn into a nightmare. Reactivity on the leash happens all the time; the Gentle Leader can really help with that.
In addition to preventing your dog from pulling (it works much like a horse bridle and reigns—your dog pulls and he/she ends up pulling herself in a circle, back at you), but it also works with pressure points on the dogs head to give a calming effect. You have complete control of your dogs’ head as well, so if they are helping themselves to one of life’s many “treats” they may find on the ground, you can immediately pull their snout away.
This gadget really works so well…and most dogs take to it pretty immediately. Occasionally, you’ll get some protest…but once your dog realizes that putting the Gentle Leader on means WALKIES!!, they get over that pretty quickly. It also gives the advantage of choosing if you want to simply go for nice walk for exercise and fun, or for a training walk to work on commands and control with your dog. You can do either immediately, and that changes everything.
So, got home with the Gentle Leader (in a medium! I’ve never had a dog this small since my childhood dog Winston!), put it on her…and her entire demeanor changed. I think it actually gave her a physical reminder that there were boundaries, and she needed that SO badly. She didn’t need to be so wild and out of control and it visibly made her more content.
Now…if it would only help to teach her boundaries in the house…”No, Clio, whatever is on the kitchen counter is NOT a snack for you…”