The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Dog training tools

Now, I have to admit that you won't see instant results the first time you walk your dog correctly.  When we got Lucy, she'd been tied up for months on end and she was wild.  I could barely hold her leash as she galloped up the driveway --- no way I was going to be able to get her to walk beside or behind me.

Gentle LeaderSo, we bought a couple of tools to get Lucy to pay attention to us (and to wear down a bit of her boundless energy!)  The one dog-lovers are least likely to approve of is the Gentle Leader.  No, this isn't a muzzle --- your dog can open her mouth just fine.  The Gentle Leader is a lot like the harness on a horse --- it allows you to steer a large, powerful animal by turning its head rather than by trying to make the whole animal go where you want it to.  The Gentle Leader also puts pressure on top of your dog's nose if she tries to pull.  This simulates the way a pack leader will put its mouth around a follower dog's nose if the follower misbehaves, and both the pack leader's mouth and the Gentle Leader's pressure cue your dog to calm down and listen.

Dog backpackWe also bought Lucy a doggie backpack and weighed it down with water bottles and gravel.  Carrying the backpack gave her quite a workout, even when walking at human speed.  I think that without the backpack, we would have had to walk Lucy for a couple of hours a day in the beginning when she was blowing off her leftover steam from being tied up.

Both the Gentle Leader and the doggie backpack did their job admirably, but after a few months Lucy had learned that we were in charge.  We slowly stopped using them --- after all, both were just tools to get our dog's attention.

This post is part of our Training a Farm Dog lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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