The Proper Way to Walk Dogs Of Presence

As a good friend of mine is famous for saying, “Calm?  Submissive”  Why would I want a dog like that?”

I’ve always been partial to “dogs of presence,” the challenging ones, the ones beginners couldn’t handle and wouldn’t want.  Mak is pretty easy and has been good with all the dogs he’s met.  But he’s so hydraulically strong that I wouldn’t trust most people to handle him once he sees another dog or gets something into his head. I picked Ty up in my rescue days and he was so blatantly dog aggressive that I couldn’t place him.


I’ve never trusted fences to contain my dogs.  Fences and spay/neuter are so often fallbacks for lazy people who don’t supervise their charges.  When my dogs are outside the house they’re attached to me 110% of the time.  I learned the hard way not to trust a hand-held leashes.

Around my waist I wear a western horse girth which is the piece of tack that wraps under a horse’s chest and holds the saddle on.  When horses are used for roping and a steer is lined to the saddle horn, a lot of pressure is exerted on this device so it has to be unbreakably strong.  The girth is about five inches wide and looks like this:western-cinchThough Mak has been on a no-pull program for 3 months now, (because of my knees) I still use the girth when I expect him to feel frisky, like at the ocean.  The dog’s lines attach like this:DSCN0275Though bull snaps can open accidentally it’s rare, far rarer than for those stupid thumb operated clips on “average home owner” leashes.  Four inch bull snaps are each rated to 550 lbs., far stronger than anything you’d find at Petco.  Each bull snap attaches to a quick link (rated to 883 lbs.) and the knots holding them are bowlines.  The chain swivel is 5/16 inch (rated 1250 lbs.) and loops through two strands of braided nylon rope attached to the girth’s D-rings.  There’s an additional third strand of rope laced through as well.  It’s just a tad looser and so doesn’t rub and therefore doesn’t wear.  That’s the backup line.  Should the main rope fray without me noticing (it hasn’t frayed much in 8 years) and break, that back up line would prevent the pooches from taking off.  It’s plenty strong to give me time to resecure them.

When securely attached and they wanted to chase, even with a combined weight of just over 100 lbs., it’s amazing how much pull they could exert.

Ty was a bit more focused on the snowmobiles but that was not always the case.  You can see by the depth the collar has sunk into Mak’s neck that he was pretty lit-up trying to get to off-roaders.  Check out his body and drive, was he a specimen of what a dog should look like or what?S6302143 (3)From the above video you can see my dogs kept my hands full.  Little wonder then that I become incensed at some Average Joe who lets his uncontrolled dog run up ahead of him.  99.9% of people don’t have impeccable recall on their dogs.  I believe it’s the remaining one tenth of a percent of dog owners, those who do have impeccable recall, who’ve earned the right to let their dog run loose.  The only person I can ever recall who kept his dogs on the spot without leashes, as my dogs and I biked past him, had shock collars on his dogs; he was training them for hunting purposes.  (Not saying I endorse shock collars.)

Like my sister Lori says, “Not everyone is entitled to a Born Free Moment.”  People are incompetent and irresponsible but if there’s a problem and you own well controlled dog of presence, suddenly it’s your fault.

That’s where pepper spray comes in. Fortunately, I’ve only sprayed once, coincidentally on the same path as in the video. The canister, old and decrepit, malfunctioned.  The spray never got near the dog. But enough was in the air that the dog stopped in its tracks.  The angry owner then approached but sight of pepper spray stopped him too.

Responsibility is the key.  Even the most docile dog is a problem, even if only to itself, when managed by an irresponsible owner.  And if you’re responsible, why should you not be able to live and bond with any type of dog at all?  Be responsible!

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