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We are unconventional in our walking system with my husky. I personally believe he was never the type to learn how to loose-leash walk. I think a lot of people here do not like retractable leashes. But IMO 'safe' retractable leash walking requires training just as loose-leash walking does. So here are the things I've learned:

1) If the leash is long and gets wrapped around something like a bush or a tree, do not unwrap it yourself. Teach the pup a command that makes him/her figure it out them self. I use 'go around'. It may be frustrating at first and you may be tempted to just untangle it yourself but be patient. Your pup will learn especially because he/she will not be able to continue the walk without it...But this usually only works (for us) if it's like one or two wrap arounds and not if it gets caught on a branch of a bush or something like that.

2) Teach your pup a command to know that it is time to cross the street and to wait for you if he/she is at the end of the leash. I use 'other side' (as in lets cross to the other side of the street). And if it is a busy street we are crossing like one with a cross-walk, they have to sit until released.

3) Have your pup to associate some kind of loose leash walking command when the leash is short and locked. For us I use 'with me'. Smokey only obeys this for very short bursts. But it's handy when we are for example crossing a street. This includes a release from the loose leash command; for us I use 'ok go!'.

4) Teach your pup to return to you when you need him/her to. I use 'Smokey c'mere'. So whether he is behind me or at the end of his leash in front of me, he always returns to me when I ask him to. This is probably my favorite and IMO most important command.

6) For you: always be vigilant in surveying your surroundings (this includes looking behind you). Use your ears too. I have learned to listen for bicycles and feet skidding when people may be approaching from behind. A pup at the end of a long retractable may not be a good thing if a bicyclist or stroller is going by.

7) Teach your pup not to chase critters. This was difficult for us but I've learned that if I see, for example a cat or a squirrel before Smokey does, I can tell him there is one ('do you see cat/squirrel?') and he will look for it without being caught off guard and wanting to cross a street to chase it...it works most of the time. For the times it doesn't work, Smokey is on a prong as well and he is very sensitive to it. I will jerk it to deter this behavior...

8) Have your pup know a command that tells him/her to go where you want him/her to go; for example for us it's simply 'sidewalk' or 'grass' or 'street'. This includes 'straight', 'right', 'left' and 'lets go back'.

9) Make sure if you have a male pup that your pup knows a no marking command. For us I use 'no sheeshee'. Smokey has learned for some reason to not go pee on people's front lawns when we walk through our neighborhood. But he also knows that the 'public land' (like the trees and bushes on the sides of major streets) are fair game. I don't know how he knows...but he does. But when/if he does sniff something as if he is going to lift his leg, I use the command to deter him. For me, this is simply a courtesy thing.

10) Use these commands consistently and fairly (as with all other training ;)) on routine walks on the same exact route. Then begin to change up the route so that your pup is exposed to the commands in new situations thereby solidifying their behavior.

Do you think if we are equipped with these commands, it is fair to put a pup on a retractable? Would you be willing to switch to a retractable to give your pup some freedom on walks with this type of training? Can you think of other commands that might be useful for someone who uses a retractable?
 

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I wish your list could be turned into an exam people had to pass before being permitted to buy a retractable leash. :) Dog walking would be a pleasure if that were the case! Thank you for typing it all out.

I'm going to pass your list along to my mom for her schipperke. She has graduated to decent loose leash walking with him on a flat leash, and I know she would like to give him a bit more freedom.

For my own dogs, if they are trained to the criteria you describe, they are ready to be off leash. And in the areas I could use a flexi, off leash is OK so that's my preference (many popular trails in my area require a fixed-length leash). The loose-leash walking method I have trained my dogs with is pressure-dependent, so I probably would avoid using a flexi around the neighborhood for regular walks because of the constant tension on the line.

Like I said, though, I love your methods for my mom's dog. He is getting really good at minding her, but will never be reliable enough for to be off-leash, so training for the retractable leash is ideal.
 

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Would you be willing to switch to a retractable to give your pup some freedom on walks with this type of training?
I think it's great that you've thought it through and trained for such a variety of situations - I wish more people would! But for me, no, I won't use one. If I'm walking a dog on leash, it's in an area where I don't need or want them to be more than 6 feet away from me. If I'm doing training that would require that they be further away, but still need to be on leash, I have 15 foot long lines. In places where it's safe and allowed, they're off leash.

I see people walking their dogs down the sidewalk on a flexi, and I just don't understand it. If the dog were to veer sideways instead of out in front of their owner, it would be in the middle of the street. I also watched a woman walking a little yorkie on a flexi through a business district. The dog was crossing a driveway into Trader Joe's well ahead of the woman. Drivers are used to watching for and yielding to pedestrians, but it would be easy to not even notice there was a tiny dog on the end of a skinny cable 15 feet in front of her. Stuff like that just makes me cringe.

I walk my dogs at a nearby regional park all the time. The walking paths are on leash only, and are from 6-8 feet wide. It's really annoying when people approach with dogs on flexis. Why do you need to have your dog 10, 15, 20 feet away on a very busy path with hikers, joggers, bicycles, families with small children and babies in strollers, and even skateboarders?

Even worse is then ones that use flexis at off leash parks. I saw a guy whose dog wrapped the cable several times around a bush, and he struggled to get it untangled. Then that very same guy came very close to seriously injuring Halo when she stepped into a circle of cable lying on the ground. I called her quickly before the dog started moving, which would have tightened it on her leg like a garrote.
 

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I stay away from retractable leashes . My friends daughter is legally blind in one eye because the the leash broke at the collar and swung back, hitting her in the eye. After that story, I wouldn't use a retractable leash on any dog, let alone a big dog.
 

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Today I had Shayna out for a walk and this couple came around with these four dogs: a GSD (best behaved of the bunch!), a cattle dog mix, and two that I think were probably part malamute and HUGE. Well, they were obviously pretty dog reactive. I had Shayna a few hundred feet away working on some training and as soon as they saw her they freaked out. And this lady had both of the malamute crosses and they kept lunging and she was getting dragged and then she went down on her butt.....and then I hear that stupid plastic handle part of one of their leashes crack! So her partner went and grabbed one by the collar and dragged him away thank goodness. And away they went with him holding three! big dogs and her trying to deal with this other one. I was looking for an escape route already! Anyways, I don't think most retractable leashes are well made enough to stand up to anything if a dog that size reacts so I'd be inclined to think it had better be a pretty bomb proof dog before trying it. Personally I have a six foot leash for anything other than an open field and then a 30 foot training lead now that we're working on training outside with distractions.
 

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I walk puppy on a retractable leash at night. I live in the suburbs, and there are almost no people out at night. It gives her more freedom to sniff and wander. She knows some commands for this type of walk. For example, go sniff is her command to go explore. She also knows wait, get on the sidewalk, "other way" for untangling, let's go, etc.
 

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Egh, don't think I'll ever walk mine on a retractable. I agree with Cassidy that if I have him somewhere where he needs a leash, I don't want him to be more than six feet away. Doing distance training, I have long lines. And if we're backwoods, I'd rather take his leash off than still have him tethered by the skinny cord that's going to get stuck on everything.

Ideally, if the rules you laid out were practiced, the world would be a better place. But unfortunately, most flexi users are not going to do that. Just today, I had a woman walk into the store with two huskies on a flexi with a coupler - one flexi, two 60 pound huskies. So of course when they see Kaiju standing by my side, they go nuts, end up breaking the flexi. I try to body block, but since there's two, they wrap around me and tangle my legs with the coupler and I crash into the floor. So there's immediately two huskies pinning Kaiju to the ground and my face right between their jaws and his neck. Took three people to pull them off and when she gets her dogs back, what does she do? She buys ANOTHER flexi. Some people are unbelievable.
 

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I have used retractables for 25 years and never had a problem.

The dog MUST be leash trained beforehand.

Do not use them anywhere there is not enough room and another person or animal can get wrapped up in them.

Retractables are wonderful if used properly.
 

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lol at retractable leashes. that's for the little dogs with no training or leadership. they're cheaply made. when i say go sniff 6 feet is enough room. while in the suburbs.
 

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Egh, don't think I'll ever walk mine on a retractable. I agree with Cassidy that if I have him somewhere where he needs a leash, I don't want him to be more than six feet away. Doing distance training, I have long lines. And if we're backwoods, I'd rather take his leash off than still have him tethered by the skinny cord that's going to get stuck on everything.

Ideally, if the rules you laid out were practiced, the world would be a better place. But unfortunately, most flexi users are not going to do that. Just today, I had a woman walk into the store with two huskies on a flexi with a coupler - one flexi, two 60 pound huskies. So of course when they see Kaiju standing by my side, they go nuts, end up breaking the flexi. I try to body block, but since there's two, they wrap around me and tangle my legs with the coupler and I crash into the floor. So there's immediately two huskies pinning Kaiju to the ground and my face right between their jaws and his neck. Took three people to pull them off and when she gets her dogs back, what does she do? She buys ANOTHER flexi. Some people are unbelievable.
I use flexis for walking on a path or road where there is plenty of clear room. I would never use it in a store. I use a leather leash for when the dog should be within 6'.

But you can t be stupid with the flexi. My personal peeve are prong collars and shock collars in the hands of people that have not been trained for timing. Legalized abuse. Not saying there is not a time or a place but there should be a certain amount of training before allowing the general public to own them.
 

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I have used retractables for 25 years and never had a problem.
The dog MUST be leash trained beforehand.
Do not use them anywhere there is not enough room and another person or animal can get wrapped up in them.
Retractables are wonderful if used properly.
...and probably not best to use with a Martingale collar....that is a mistake you only make once :rolleyes:...that was a truly newbie mistake as a 1st time GSD puppy owner...they are smarty pant dogs, that is for sure!!!
 

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...and probably not best to use with a Martingale collar....that is a mistake you only make once :rolleyes:...that was a truly newbie mistake as a 1st time GSD puppy owner...they are smarty pant dogs, that is for sure!!!
What was your experience? (I have never used a Martingdale collar.)
 
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