Day 9 Bonus Episode: How to Get a Leash on an Unfamiliar Dog

Somewhere between sessions 10 and 15 of the Brindle Girl series, I asked students on the FDSA alumni list whether they’d rather see me continue working my slow CC/DS protocol with this collar, or demonstrate how I would put a slip lead on her in a way that keeps stress low, and gets things done. Everyone voted for the collar – so that’s what I’ve been doing with Brindle Girl. But you’re in luck, because Dude Who Wants To Knock Up My Dog – he makes an appearance in Brindle Girl’s session #42 (Brindle Girl Series video #43) – has been hanging around the house as well. Since he’s been in my way, I decided to put a lead on him so I could tether him when taking out Game. This video is me putting a limited slip lead on him for the first time. The very few previous interactions we’ve had consisted of me using a broom to tell him to get off my porch. Here’s what’s happening in this video:

  • I sit on the windowsill and assess: what’s he like; what does he think about me being up close? He responds by wagging, and he doesn’t get up. Good.
  • I don’t move my leash hand fast to avoid triggering a startle/fear/bite response, but I do move swiftly, just sliding the slip lead over his head, tightening it – and voilà, it’s a dog on a leash! No big deal; he hardly noticed.
  • Notice that I approached him with the leash from the side of his head rather than from above.
  • Remember early on in the Brindle Girl series, when I noted that the very fact that I have been making a BIG deal about the collar may have sensitized her to it? This is certainly not happening with Dude Who Wants To Knock Up My Dog. There’s no time for him to get sensitized; he barely even notices the leash before it’s on. THIS is what I would do in a realistic scenario (for whatever reason, a collar/leash needs to go on a dog who is new to me).
  • I would have used a different strategy if his initial reaction (when I sit down on the windowsill and ask him how he’s doing) wasn’t a wag. If he stiffened or growled at me, I would not move my hand this close to his head – I don’t want to get bitten.
  • Would Brindle Girl have responded just like this if I tried this with her rather than using the slow CC/DS approach with the collar? She’d probably not be as relaxed as Dude Who Wants To Knock Up My Dog. Brindle Girl is a more timid dog. I’d have gotten the leash on her equally quickly, but she may not have stayed quite as relaxed. Still – just comparing this to the CC/DS approach with low value food: the difference is striking.

Comparing the two approaches shows how sometimes, the pragmatic approach will get you further much faster, and that it doesn’t necessarily imply behavioral fallout.

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