Sunday, May 17, 2009

Don't drag the dog by the collar!

I have a simple tip for pet sitters and pet owners. Don't drag your dog by the collar. THEY HATE IT. Hook on a leash and lead the dog where you want him to go. I have seen so many dogs just dig in and refuse to budge when the owner grabs the collar. Toy breeds are often worse than big dogs about being handled this way. And if the dog's temperament is the least bit iffy, you're just asking for a bite. 

He may not want to go outside. He may not want to get off the couch. He may be at the front door greeting someone or barking at a person walking by the house. I use a leash in my own home with my own dogs. If they don't want to go, I hook on a leash. Even the most reluctant dog usually gets up and follows me. Using a leash gives you some distance from the dog's mouth, so you aren't as likely to be the target of a bite. But even the most docile dog will respond better to a leash than a drag. (Side note here: don't take no for an answer– you are the leader, right?)

Trying to break up a potential dogfight before it gets started? Grabbing a collar might set them off. Pull the leash through the handle and drop it over the dog's head (see photo) and tighten so you don't have to fasten the hook to a collar, which is much harder and more dangerous with an agitated dog. 

Ian Dunbar, known for his puppy training methods, recommends you start training your dog to accept someone touching his collar when he is still a puppy. Take hold of the collar and give Puppy a treat, over and over. Make touching his collar a positive experience. When Puppy is eating, take hold of his collar and give him a treat that is yummier than anything in his bowl. Now you get a double benefit: the dog learns that having you around his food is a good thing. Reinforce this training throughout your dog's life. 

Hooking on a leash is a simple trick that saves you lots of frustration.  

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