This weekend I attended a wonderful conference in Northern California on Separation Anxiety in Dogs. Since I am also an avid runner I took this travel opportunity to run among the gorgeous Redwoods. While running on the trails I encountered many, many dogs with their humans. Two of those encounters stuck in my mind and as a result I am writing this blog. One of the humans had a Labrador and they were coming up a steep hill that I was coming down. The dog was very calm and the man asked the dog for a sit. The dog refused. So the man asked again, again the dog refused. So, the man pressed the dogs butt to the ground. The dog then sat in a very unnatural position because you see the dog was not refusing to sit just because, the trail was steep, rocky and uneven and it was hard to maintain balance in a sitting position. I have also seen this same thing happen with elderly arthritic dogs who don’t want to sit simply because it hurts. Sometimes, we need to remember our human instincts and listen to our dogs. Dogs don’t disobey because they want to dominate us, or they or stubborn. Sometimes it is because the squirrel…”squirrel” is just much more interesting than you, or because they hurt, or because what you are asking them to do is difficult. So, when a command is given and your dog refuses consider everything from medical issues, to what type of terrain you are on, to being More interesting than the “squirrel” and change your training to fit that need.
The other dog I encountered was a Golden Retriever and the owner was bringing him down a steep hill while I was going up. He was on a retractable leash and dragging her down the hill. She kept saying “don’t pull”. Her daughter said “mom you really ought to teach him not to pull”. Again this pup was pulling because it works. He pulled, mom kept stumbling down the hill and kept giving him more leash. I never advise the use of retractable leashes for my clients, I simply don’t like them, but especially for big dogs. Her daughter was absolutely correct she needed to start working on this NOW. I would advise getting rid of the retractable leash, purchasing a regular leash and an Easy Walk Harness and simply stopping every time the dog pulls. But as long as mom lets the dog drag her down the hills this will continue and unfortunately mom may eventually roll down the hill.
So remember always listen to your dogs and your daughters they know what they are saying, while most of the time “Squirrel”!