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The Gentle Leader
13/02

Before I get to today’s story – the post I shared from another holistic vet about a dog who died from being given nexgard stirred up a lot of comments, and some confusion about how to prevent ticks etc. It’s an impossible situation! With any of these long-lasting tick/flea prevention products, a very small percentage of pets are going to have an adverse reaction, and some will die. I avoid any new product like this for at least two years after it’s launched, and search for adverse reactions on google before I decide to use it, or not. I use a tick collar on my dogs, and check them every day (we live where there are paralysis ticks). The bottom line is that you are playing Russian roulette with your pets when you give them these drugs. And that’s only taking into account acute reactions – that doesn’t even approach the problems with chronic low grade toxicity when you give these products every month for years and years. Then again, tick can kill your pet! So we are all stuck between a rock and a hard place…

And now, today’s story!

It was a week later – once again I was greeted by a happy chorus of barking as I hopped out of the car. This time, however, when I was invited out the back to sit down, it was strangely more peaceful. Their big blue cattle dog was super excited again, but her mum gave her a firm command “on your bed!”, and she trotted off – not completely happily, but without too much fuss at all. Gone was the frantic jumping all over me! After a moment she was invited back in, and she just lay down quietly beside her mum, not pushing and nudging continually for attention like she used to.

“Wow,” I said “There’s quite a difference from last visit already! I see you’ve been working on outing her? How’s it going?”

“It’s awesome, it’s made such a difference,” she told me. “Any time she’s been a pain, we send her off to sit on her bed – and I’ve been calling one and then the other for pats while making sure that they are the only one allowed in. That was a bit harder, but it’s so much more pleasant when you can talk to one of your dogs without being massively annoyed by the other one all the time.”

“pretty cool, eh?” I said, with a smile. “It’s such a simple little thing to do, but it makes such a huge difference to how much respect your dogs show you, and it makes them so much more enjoyable to interact with too.”

“Oh yes,” she said. “She’s even been good when we’ve had visitors, which has been a real problem.”

I pulled out the gentle lead- a special collar with a loop that fits over the dogs nose. Their big cattle dog was terrible to walk- she nearly pulled her mum’s arm right off, and look out if they met another dog. She’d been walked with a haltie (another collar with a nose loop, but a different design – not nearly as effective at stopping pulling as the gentle leader is though). I popped it on and made sure it fitted just right, then I started to walk her around a bit.

“So the key thing with the gentle leader is that you want to be very gentle,” I explained. “You never jerk on the lead – I only hold it between one finger and thumb. And the second thing is that release of pressure id your dogs reward – so as soon as she shows the slightest give to my gentle pressure, I release the tension.”

Her mum was watching carefully – then we went out on the lawn, and did some more practice, after which her mum had a go.

“This is amazing!” she told me. “It’s so easy to walk her, and she’s not pulling at all! With the haltie it’s still very hard to hold her, but this si so much better.”

Then we went through the whole process with the little dog, their minature foxie. He was less happy about this strange and restricting thing on his head and nose, and tried all sorts of tricks to either get ti off, or not go where I wanted him to, but with a little patient and gentle training, I soon had him walking along with me quite nicely.

Such a pleasure to help people live more happily with their dogs!

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