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 YOU ARE HERE:
 ARTICLES > TTouch > The Balance Leash – One Way To Keep Your Dog From Pulling!
 
  TTouch  Article:
  THE BALANCE LEASH – ONE WAY TO KEEP YOUR DOG FROM PULLING!
Article By: Eugenie Chopin        Publish Date: 2003-08-22

Many people believe that TTouch is just bodywork for animals. And indeed bodywork is essential in our treatment of any animal, but there is so much more! We do a lot of groundwork and leading exercises with both dogs and horses and I thought I’d use this space to explain a few of the tools we use on dogs. This month I have chosen to describe the Balance leash, as it’s the simplest and we all have a lead already in our equipment bag!

Pulling must be one of the biggest issues for the average dog owner. In the TTouch world, we have numerous methods of dealing with this natural behaviour. Yes, I do call it natural! Dogs are eager and energetic creatures. They are curious about their surroundings, new smells and sights. So when we take them for a walk, what do we expect them to do? Walk nicely and calmly by our sides! Indeed, we can’t move at their pace even on a good day!

So they pull and pull and expect us to come along with them, while we pant and hold on for dear life in case they should get away from us! My question to is: “what have you to done to teach your dog to resist his natural impulse to get a move on and stay with you?” Answers might be anything from yell & shout, jerk on the choke chain, turned and walked in the other direction, tried a harness or head collar, or even a prong collar and of course teaching the dog to heel at training. There are lots of methods out there. My next question is: “Has anything you’ve done stopped the dog from pulling?” And of course there is the difference of teaching a dog to heel in class and going for a fun walk in the street. I have known highly trained dogs to still pull if they weren’t working.

So your question to me is going to be “What is the answer?” Oh, if only life were so easy! There is no right or perfect answer as we treat each dog as an individual and what may work for one, might be useless on the next. However, I will use this opportunity this month to tell you about one tool in the TTouch toolbox: the balance leash!

BALANCE LEASH:

Equipment: You’ll need a flat collar & a long lead for this exercise. +/- 6 foot. And note that the length lead you need is dependant on your height and the height of your dog. For instance, the taller you are and the shorter your dog, the longer the lead needed to connect the 2 of you. I can use a shorter lead on Shanti as I’m short and she’s medium tall.

General: There are certain general rules we use when using a lead on a dog. One is that we want to keep the lead in a neutral position when not giving a command or information. Neutral means that the lead has no pressure on the collar or whatever other equipment is on the dog. However it does not mean that the lead has a lot of slack. It simply means that there is the slightest amount of slack between the lead and the collar. So that if the dog moves away, it only takes a subtle amount of pressure on the collar or balance lead to give information to the dog. This keeps us from jerking and pulling the dog off balance.

Theory: When a dog pulls he puts the largest portion of his weight on his front legs. To bring a dog into balance, we want to redistribute the weight so that there is enough weight on the back legs to allow the dog to stand still and in balance without leaning forward.

How to use it : Assuming that your dog is walking on your left side, take the lead in your left hand with your thumb and forefinger pointing towards the clip (collar). The other end of the lead should be in your right hand. Take the rest of the lead and drop it over the front chest of the dog. This should make a loop over the left shoulder of the dog with the opening on the right side of the dog. You’ll have to readjust the position of your left hand in order to keep your thumb and forefinger pointed towards the collar. (There is a way of doing this easily that doesn’t translate well to paper, but rather learn that from a Practitioner – here I suggest you focus on the final position rather that the best way to get there)

So now you have the lead in 2 hands with the left hand close to the collar and the rest of the lead looped across the chest and the end of the lead in your right hand. You want to stand forward enough to be near the ear of the dog, so if your lead is too long, you’ll end up behind the dog in what is best known as the “water ski” position! All you have to do is take up the slack in your right hand to shorten your lead to the correct length. NOTE: Please do not wrap your lead around your wrist! Many people have been badly injured in just this way.

Now when your dogs steps ahead of you use the heel of your left hand (by the little finger) and your right hand to pull the part of the lead that is over the dogs chest, up and back. You’ll have to turn slightly in towards the dog in order to keep both ends of the lead over the dog. This should help the dog put his weight back over his back legs. The upward movement is just as important as the backward pull.

TIPS:

  • Keep enough slack in the part of the lead connected to the collar that you mostly connect to the chest rather than the neck to stop the dog
  • As you’re using 2 hands to do this exercise, don’t hesitate to turn your body a quarter turn towards the dog to work the both ends of the lead. You want to be able to pull back over the dog’s body with both hands.
  • You are using the heel of your left hand as your thumb and forefinger should be directly connected to the collar. This way you always know what part of your hand is in control of a specific function. In this case, thumb and forefinger control the collar and heel of hand and right hand control the chest.
  • Try to keep the lead lower than the dog’s neck and rather over the chest. This is needless to say easier in some breeds than others, depending on how they’re built.
  • Immediately after you’ve done this procedure, go back into a neutral position! It’s important that the dog stand in it’s own balance! If the dog keeps moving, just repeat the gentle up and back connection with the balance lead. You’ll be amazed at how soon the dog will realize it’s not going anywhere and start to stand still! Remember that if you maintain pressure on the chest, the dog will just lean into it. It also how sled dogs learn to pull!
  • Use the balance leash the moment the dog takes that first step away from you. Don’t wait until he has moved further!
  • Walk and stop often with your dog. He will soon get used to not moving too far away.
  • Ask your dog to go forward with a slight forward signal on the collar
  • If you want to walk your dog your right, reverse the procedure making sure that the open side of the lead is towards you.

Problem Solving:

  • If your dog twists out of the lead: Many dogs do this. You can take the end of the lead, which is in your right hand and lay it in your left hand over the last 3 fingers only. (This allows your thumb and forefinger to remain free to connect with the collar) So you can do this with one hand, which helps keep the dog from twisting out of the balance lead. I do suggest however, that you work first with 2 hands and get the feel of it.
  • If your dog backs up: Back up with him! It’s just an avoidance exercise as having the lead on the chest really does give different information that perhaps your dog wants to hear!
  • If you have a little dog and it’s hard to keep the lead on the chest: Work from the clip on the collar: take the lead under the left leg (from the back to the front), over the chest (from left to right), then up the right side of the body, going under the collar (from bottom to top)
  •  Another option is to have a harness on your small dog and loop the lead through the front part of the harness.
  • You can use the above on larger dogs as well: use on any dog where you’re having problems keeping the lead on the chest.

When might you use this?

  • This is just to give you some ideas. It is certainly not the answer to all pulling, but it’s an extremely useful tool to have. When are the times you might want to keep your dog closer to you and more contained than you can do with your collar
  • Think of being in the waiting room of your Vet. You need to keep your dog contained in a limited space
  • You’re out walking and another dog comes down the street. This can help keep your dog from lunging to the end of it’s leash
  • You want to do TTouches but your dog is restless and keeps moving away. Use the balance leash to hold onto a dog and keep him closer to you.
  • You’re in any situation where you want to keep your dog closer to you and not allow him to go to the end of his leash. Maybe a class situation
  • You’re at agility and your dog tends to run to the end of its lead in excitement when another dog is working.
  • You’re walking in a confined space at a dog show, expo or shopping centre and need the dog to stay close to you
  • Your dog is concerned about other people, children or other dogs and is hard to control
  • You have a dog that pulls a lot and you feel you’ve been choking him badly.

The balance lead is just one of many tools that we use to help our dogs understand that we need them to stay next to us rather than pulling or moving away. There are many more in the TTouch tool box and if you’d like help with a Pulling problem, so go onto our website at www.ttouchsa.co.za and connect with a practitioner.

© 2006 TTouch - eugenie@ttouch.co.za.   All Rights Reserved.
 

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