To leash or not to leash? That is the question.
We lived in a big city for 20 years. We took our dogs out for walks, on leashes, of course, dreaming of the day when we could walk around in a larger space, far away from other people and cars, where our dogs could run free.
Every time I’d walk them down the street, I’d be imagining we were out in the country.
Then came our chance. Five years ago, we moved to a small, green town in the country, way outside of the big city. We let our dogs off the leash, and… freedom.
When there were two of them, one of them would always convince the other one to keep on walking. Then, two years ago, the one who loved walking passed away.
At first, her sister kept walking with us, but slowly, we found ourselves standing on the sidewalk calling her name, begging her to keep walking. Finally, we quit begging and would just head for home whenever she wanted to go home. Which usually happened about three minutes after we’d left the house.
About a month ago, while we were standing at the door on our way out for a walk, it struck me: she’s such a scaredy-cat, there must be something scaring her while we’re out walking!
I’ll tell you the end of the story, but before I do…
The way I see it, training dogs isn’t just a profession, it’s a way of life. Discipline, boundaries, calm leadership, peaceful, loving assertiveness. That’s how I’ve raised my kids, too. But here, I’d messed up. I hadn’t realized in time that I had given up on her when she needed me most.
Getting back to the story: We stood there at the door, and like I said, it struck me: she was scared to go out for a walk. She’d hurry to do her business, then rush back home.
I put a collar on her, attached it to the leash, and we headed out for a walk. With me leading and her beside me, calm, sniffing her way around, enjoying herself. And since then, we only go for walks with the leash, and we have a great time, the whole time.
Remember, what your dog wants most of all is a leader who’s calm, assertive, and loving – and above all else, one who will take care of his or her needs.