Melvin and Buddy greeted me at the door, ecstatic to have company after 12 long hours alone. After I fed them, refreshed their water and gave Buddy his nightly thyroid pill, it was walk time. They went nuts as soon as I reached for the leashes.
Because they pull so hard, their owners recommended I walk them separately, once around the block for each dog. Melvin is also aggressive to dogs they meet, which makes him even harder to keep under control.
The owners supplied retractable flexi leads and a no-pull harness for each dog. The retractable leash was the first problem. Dogs that pull, pull even harder on one of these leashes and quickly drag themselves out to the end of the thin line. I worry it will break, and if they suddenly lunge at another dog, it’s hard to hold onto the awkward case that stores the line.
The two no-pull harnesses were a piece of work. Both were red and black, but different models, so they are put on each dog differently. I felt like I was trying to un-knit a sweater, just untangling the straps and the leash line, much less figuring out how to put it on the dog. Then I get to the second one, and it’s different, so I go through the same exercise over again. I am uncoordinated, and had to relearn the harnesses every night (I often go through similar gyrations with garden hoses and extension cords). Meanwhile both dogs are leaping in my lap and rolling on the floor, anxious to go, and begging to be first.
One night I decided to just put Melvin, a cattle dog mix, on a chain collar and a regular leash, which were both hanging by the door. By the time we got back I felt like my arm was going to come out of my shoulder socket, and we didn’t even meet any other dogs. Another night, I finally got both boys dressed, and decided to try them together. They really weren’t too bad, though I’d say they were still pulling pretty hard. Buddy, the Beagle, plows along, nose to the ground, oblivious that there is a person hanging on for dear life behind him.
I think no-pull harnesses work better when attached to a four or six foot leash. And they don’t alleviate the need for training, that’s for sure. Sled dogs wear harnesses–but they are supposed to pull.
Artwork above: Beagle by Terry Albert.
© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.