As many of you know, our family has owned at least one dog, continuously, for the past 31 years. Never have we ever had a walking issue with any of our previous dogs. Not even the mentally deficient dog who considered rocks a delicacy. All previous dogs were pull free, non-reactive walkers. And then there is Phoebe. Phoebe is both a puller because she must “smell” every blade of grass that is within a five mile radius of where she is walking and reactive because she seemingly must “try” to attack any dog that she sees in that same vicinity.
And so each day before her walk, I mutter…”Now Phoebe, we’re going on a walk today and you’re going to be a good girl, right? No sled dog pulling, no barking and lunging. You’re going to walk like a lady with your head held high like they do on TV. Okay?” It doesn’t work and she doesn’t answer, but I do it anyway. In fact, according to my husband, she hears, “Blah, Phoebe, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.” Of course, as in most things, he is probably right. In fact, Cesar Milan says he is right and Cesar is, after all, much more than a dog mutterer. He is “The Dog Whisperer”.
Have you ever watched Cesar Milan on television? I have. I’ve also been reading one of his books. He is nothing short of magical! He meets a dog that would tear a person’s head off, the dog growls, he gives a quick pull on the leash, makes one little “SHT” sound and the dog instantly obeys. Amazing.
I did notice on the show that the dogs he’s working with many times wear both a chest and a head harness. I decided, since we already had both, to give this a try.
I now hold two leashes when we walk. It’s complicated and the first day or two she balked and did all she could to remove the head harness. Eventually, she gave that up AND immediately she was walking by my side with her head held high like the lady I told her she was! It was a miracle! I thought that was it. No more pulling, no more barking, no more lunging, just pleasant walks with our girl. That’s what I thought. It was a wonderful thought, a wrong thought, but a wonderful thought. She still barks and lunges. I don’t know how, but she does.
I decided maybe it’s not just the head and chest gear. I’ve already tried the quick pull thing with Phoebe to no avail. So I came to the conclusion that the magic that I’m missing has to be the sound! And so I tried that. “SHT!” I said as I gave her leash a quick pull. “SHT! SHT! SHT!”
I admit that I was very tempted to add a small letter “i” to my “SHT” sound but, tempting as it was, I figured that wouldn’t work either. And so, I am back to Cesar’s book, determined to learn to do things “Cesar’s Way”. In the meantime, I mutter because in the light of all eternity, it’s really not that big a deal!