Because of my recent accident while walking Pao (the 2nd which required me to go to the hospital) I have tested some changes during a long walk yesterday afternoon. They were mostly successful, and easy to implement, so I will continue this way for now.
Lead – fixed or extendable
I have two kinds of leads. See preview photo.
- Extendable with a handle. It automatically gets longer or shorter, or can be locked at any length.
- Fixed length soft leather with a wrap around for your hand.
Hirokazu and both professional dog walkers prefer the fixed length lead. Multiple friends prefer it. And most dog training sites recommend it also.
I usually prefer the extendable one because I find it easier to hold, and because it gives Pao more freedom to do things like run if we are in a park or some quiet place.
But I decided to try the fixed length one yesterday. I had to go back and get the extendable one after a few minutes. I’m sorry, but I just disagree with, I guess, everybody in the world. The fixed length leash gives me less control because… the length is fixed!
Sometimes, like when a motorcycle is passing by, I want to make the lead very short and keep Pao very close. (I neglected to do that when the accident happened the other day).
It’s trivially easy to do that with the extendable/retractable lead. But with the fixed length lead it is hard, and really really hurts my hands and wrist and arm when I try. It is more cumbersome because you need both hands basically to hold it at a very short length. With the extendable lead you make it very short, lock it in place, and you have the large, comfortable handle to hold onto, and it definitely seems safer and takes less force to use.
Collar or Harness
Maybe at some point I will try a harness. Different types have been recommended by multiple people. The problems I envision with harnesses are lots of issues getting a proper fit. Every time I read different instructions about getting, sizing, and getting used to different kinds of harnesses I find it frankly confusing. I feel I would need to bring Pao somewhere to get it sized and so on. So for now I’m continuing with the simple collar. If a convenient opportunity arrives in the future I might try some kind of harness. I’m not opposed to it, I just find it cumbersome to get started at the moment.
What I Did Differently Yesterday
Basically, I just wasn’t as nice to Pao as I usually am, letting him go where he wants, and letting the lead extend fairly long most of the time.
I decided to be a strict boss and force Pao to go where I wanted to go (side streets and towards the river) rather than where he wanted to go (busy street where there was traffic to look at).
I kept the lead very short and forced him to walk next to me in the direction I wanted to go, and wouldn’t let him stop and look back or walk back.
I did, of course, let him stop and sniff things. That’s important for a dog walk. And of course I stopped and let him pee and poo. And since it was hot I stopped multiple times to let him drink some water. And I gave him a few snacks along the way.
But for the most part I just kept him very close and forced him to walk next to me. His tail didn’t hang down in misery, so I think he’ll live with it.
When I saw a motorbike in the distance – or if Pao sensed it first and started getting into stalking position – I retracted the lead to almost minimum length and waited for the bike to get closer. The first time when Pao tried to leap after it it did hurt my arm keeping him from barely moving. But the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th times he got the idea I wasn’t letting him move and it didn’t require force to the point that it hurt to keep him under control.
So basically I became boss. We had a nice 55 minute 2.5 km walk to and along the river and came home. At a tiny park by the river nobody was around so I let the lead extend a bit so he could stroll around and sniff at a tree. Then I made it very short again when we started walking along the river.
I’m going to just continue like this for a while and see how it goes.