Letting Go of the Leash Almost

The simple addition of a short lead weighs on your dog's collar, which serves as a reminder, and also enables you to slowly transition to hands-free exercises without having to ditch the leash entirely. Without it you might find yourself leaping or grabbing at your dog's collar to redirect him—especially if he's in danger. This is not good form. Impulsive movements on your part will frighten your dog and ensure a lack of off-leash trust.

Use the short lead around your home, directing your dog with simple cues like SIT, DOWN, STAY, and COME. If he responds, congratulations—if not, don't despair. Pick up your hand lead and guide him through it so he has faith in your direction. Avoid rushing outside or into the public domain with only a short lead, as your lack of full control will cause you to worry and be more reactive. Work on all your commands first, gaining confidence before you use your short lead in an open field or park. You can leave a short hand lead or an even smaller finger lead on your dog whenever you're supervising him. Think of it as giving you the ability to reach out and grasp your dog's hand when he gets confused or impulsive. If you want to do a spontaneous command medley (see page 107) or you need to direct your dog when someone comes into your home, you'll be able to do so without having to find a leash.

The other good thing about working on a short lead is that you can start an exercise while you're holding the leash and then drop it as your dog's focus improves. The slight weight on your dog's collar will be a reassuring reminder to him of your guidance.

It's so frustrating when my dog ignores me. I know I shouldn't, but I really feel like hitting him. What should I do?

Feeling like hitting is fine. Hitting isn't. Doing so would erode your relationship with your dog and diminish his off-lead trust. If you're really angry with him, walk away calmly. Remember, a graceful retreat is never disrespected.

An Off-Lead

Concept of NO

The Invisible Leash chapter/

In chapter 6, you learned that once your dog knows his commands, you can introduce the concept of NO into your lessons. NO, when paired with a tug of the leash, feeds your dog information about his performance. NO does not mean "bad dog"; it means "that response wasn't right—try again."

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