Saturday, March 06, 2010

Love Hurts

Loving Great Dane hurts. There is no doubt about it. Even if your dogs are the most obedient canines on the planet, you might still be on the receiving end of an (unintentional) head butt, an (unintentional) elbow or (unintentional) tail whip.

My dogs are not the worst dogs in the world, they do know and obey the commands "sit" and "eat this yummy snack", but not much more. I could argue that I'm simply letting them be free spirits as I don't like to program living creatures to do my bidding like slaves, but I'll be lying. If I could, I'll make the entire planet my slave. From tiny little ants to sperm whales, everyone will dedicate their lives to serve me. But I digress (happens a lot to me recently, must be an age thing). The real reason my dogs are wild animals is because I'm just too lazy to train them properly.

Now it's one thing to have a disobedient little pooch. Now imagine a wild beast weighing 80 kilos. Now imagine two of them. Now stop imaging, we're done. Both my husband and I paid the price for our laziness by being dragged around by the dogs, smashed into the ground or just break a finger or crack a rib. The most fun was being dragged across a road by the two hounds to say hello to a boxer across the street. It was fun because we were lucky enough not to be run over by any car.

We had Kato and Leo together for several years. Kato and Leo completed each other: Kato was old and relaxed and Leo was crazy and young. They balanced each other. When Kato passed away we got Leo a new puppy and suddenly we had two crazy and young dogs. Leo is already four and a half, but you wouldn't know it from his puppy-like behaviour and Dexter would probably diagnosed as insane by any dog psychologist. He is utterly mad. Whatever part of his mind is not mad is just stupid.

Needless to say we broke down and got a dog trainer to spend the day with the dogs. I can't say I got a lot from her, but at least she recommended this magic product, Gentle Leader headcollars. The website offer this fantastic description:
Millions of dog owners today enjoy the benefits of stress-free walks thanks to the Gentle Leader Headcollar. Designed so that owners can communicate with their pet in a way they instinctively understand, the Gentle Leader painlessly and effectively removes the dog’s natural tendency to pull by placing gentle pressure on calming points and eliminating uncomfortable pressure on the throat. In addition to reducing a dog’s desire to pull away, the Gentle Leader is also a very effective tool in combating lunging, jumping, excessive barking and helping to calm an aggressive and/or anxious animal.
That's not a headcollar! It's magic!

I've been using the Gentle Leaders on both my dogs for a while now, enough to form my own opinion. Today, for example, I took the woofers for a morning walk and they suddenly saw two little dogs they wanted to play with. They started pulling and I pulled back. The Gentle Leader worked! I was yanked off my feet and dragged around, but it was a very smooth ride. I was gently led by the dogs through the mud with no real injuries to show for it.

So, not only is it useless in helping you to subdue your dogs, it also fails in other areas. Calm an anxious animal? The requirement to wear a Gentle Leader makes Dexter anxious more than anything else. He's been wearing a Gentle Leader now for most of his short life and it's still a struggle to put it on him before every walk. I think I might stop.

It's my dogs' fault, really. They just don't know how to respond to the Gentle Leader because they haven't read the product description. You think Google Translate is going to add a canine option to the languages?



Brightfame said...

Next time you don't use the gentle leaders - take an accomplice and a video camera. It won't stop you hurting yourself, but at least you can send the footage to 'You've been framed' and get £250 for your trouble!

I can say that really smugly, because we did have the time to do training with our Labrador (before marriage and kids, when life was a lot less time consuming) and have a relatively well behaved pooch.

Mickey said...

Ah, I wish I could blame my wild dogs on being a busy parent, but I was dog-surfing long before Blake was born.

If I videoed every time our dogs tossed us around I'll have enough material for an entire episode of You've Been Framed.