People often think a misbehaved dog needs 'training'. Training teaches obedience such as 'sit' or 'stay'. While an experienced dog behaviour specialist, like Michael Bylo, deals with the dog's behaviour - creating boundaries and balance in an otherwise obedient (or even disobedient) dog. For example, you can have a dog who listens to all of your commands, but acts aggressively towards other dogs. Such behaviour cannot be corrected with training or positive re-enforcement (eg. treat training or "good boy").
This is where leadership comes into play. A dog behaviourist will look at the dog's routine, amount of exercise, boundaries, discipline etc. More importantly, they will look to see how you, as their leader, handle these situations. They will then teach you what you can do in your situation to correct and prevent the behaviour.
I'd like to share this article by Cesar Millan that touches on this and more:
Leading the pack
"One of the most important things dog lovers need to do is make sure they and their dogs are in tune with each other, with the humans being the pack leaders and the dogs following that lead. Notice I don’t say a dog should be well-trained. It’s very easy to train any dog to “sit” or “shake,” but this does not mean the dog is taking on the proper role in the pack. If a dog is not balanced, then it will go right back to misbehaving once it’s done whatever trick you’ve taught it. If you only focus on training without discipline, then you may wind up with your dog training you, using your reaction to its “cute” behaviour to get what it wants.
Setting the boundaries
I talk a lot about rules, boundaries, and limitations, which we need to create for our dogs to give them a sense of what they’re supposed to do. A pack leader’s job is to provide protection and direction. If you don’t give your dog direction, he or she can become anxious, frustrated, or fearful — and these are three of the biggest causes of common misbehaviours. You can help your dog achieve balance through my fulfillment formula of exercise, discipline, and then affection, in that order. All dogs need all of these things. It’s only the degree to which they need each one that varies with the dog.
Different dogs, different needs.
Dogs come in many different sizes and energy levels, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” rule on how much exercise a dog needs. Your dog needs as much as your dog needs. If you have a high energy Dalmatian, you may find it necessary for both of you to run several miles three times a day, but if you have an older, low energy mutt, then once around the block twice a day may do the trick.
The same goes for the affection part, in terms of feeding. Canine obesity is a serious health issue, so you don’t want to feed that inactive, overweight dog the same amount or type of food as you would a hyperactive greyhound. Consult your veterinarian to determine your dog’s ideal weight, then find the right exercise and nutrition program that will help him maintain that weight. How do you know when you’ve hit the right combination? Your dog will tell you with its balanced, calm-submissive energy— its way of saying “thanks!”for being a strong pack leader." - Cesar Millan
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I'm sure you've encountered flexi-leashes before, and perhaps like me, you first noticed a dog barking and lunging and then saw their human way behind them attempting to reel them in, so that they could walk past yours without complications.
Here are three reasons why you should not use a retractable leash for walking your dog:
You have no control of your dog when he is walking ahead of you -attached to you by a plastic handle and a string. In order to regain control and get your dog back to you, you must either: walk/run towards your dog, clicking that plastic handle every step of the way, or mercifully start pulling at that string, snaring your hand in the process.
2. WHO IS WALKING WHO?
Have you ever noticed the number of dogs on flexi-leashes that lunge and bark at you and your dog as you pass by? That's no coincidence. Allowing your dog to walk 3+ feet ahead of you is essentially telling them that they are your leader, and they will 'lead' you in ways they see fit. This presents itself as your dog running ahead to pee on everything (No, they don't actually have to pee, they are 'marking' which means, placing small amounts of urine on things they feel belong to them - and further asserting themselves); and barking and lunging when they see fit.
Going back to reason #1, when you have to heel towards your dog to regain control, you are further communicating to your dog that they are your leader. This also causes them to un-learn recall (e.g. 'Come!').
3. DEFEATS INTENT OF WALK
Dogs are pack animals. Their natural instinct is to migrate (move forward) with their fellow pack members. If you trail behind them, you are communicating to them that you are the weakest member of the pack and they must either protect you or ignore you. A proper walk is a form of discipline for your dog. 'Discipline' in the dog world is not punishment, but rather a form of mental stimulation. It is also a means for you and your dog to build a relationship, and for them to gain trust and confidence in you as their leader, if done correctly.
Walking with your dog should leave you feeling peaceful and satisfied, not stressed-out or embarrassed.
A proper walk cannot be achieved with your dog leading the way, marking and sniffing everything, barking and losing control. This does not provide them with mental stimulation, but with bad habits that can lead to even worse behaviour.
Your dog does not need to pee during the walk (have them pee before you embark on your official walk).
A proper walk will stimulate your dog mentally and physically and teach them to trust you as their leader. Dogs with higher energy, such as a siberian husky or border collie, will require more 'physical' exercise on top of a proper walk.
When your dog trusts and respects you as their leader, they will not pull on the leash, lunge or bark. They will walk calmly beside you, and expect you to provide any direction and protection they may need.
Once you have mastered the 'pack walk', only then would it be OK for you to use a flexi-leash. Of course this is a trick, because at that point you will understand that the flexi-leash is unnecessary, because your dog does not benefit in any way by walking ahead of you.
A dog with boundaries and discipline is a happy, well-behaved dog who looks to you to learn more.
Keep moving forward!
Sara Nielsen (Bylo)