Walking in Balance with TTouch

Pulling on leash is one of the most common issues I see both from the dog and their person. One of the many ways that I try to approach the problem and inspire people to change it from physical aspects. Dogs that pull not only affect their own bodies over time, sometimes creating neck and spinal issues from years of constant tension, they can also create physical issues with their handler. Our bodies feel the pressure from up to three times the dog's body weight when they pull putting tension on our hands wrists, arms and shoulders. The dog and the handler are often completely out of balance, definitely not working together.

The easiest technique that I have used for improving leash manners on both ends is from Tellington TTouch called the Balance Leash. I've been using the Balance Leash in my basic obedience classes with much success once people are willing to give it a try. We are quickly and calmly able to give the dog's body and brain information they can understand. The Balance Leash teaches the dog to walk without pulling by using subtle "ask and release" signals with the leash on the chest to get them to balance their own weight on all four feet. All we need to get started is the dog on a buckle collar and their six foot leash.

With the dog on the left side (all directions are reversed if the dog walks on your right), put your left hand on the leash about a foot from the collar with your thumb pointing towards the dog. With your right hand, take the rest of the leash and drape it around the dogs chest keeping your right hand on the leash with the thumb pointing towards the dog. As you walk forward, keep your left hand loose with no pressure on the dog's neck. With your right hand, use the gentle "ask and release" signals when you feel your dog pulling. These signals are not corrections, but information to the dog's body to re-balance. As soon as they stop pulling, release and let the leash go slack. Not only is your dog in better balance, but you are as well.

I've included a video showing how to use this technique along with a variation for dogs that tend to spin around or become reactive. My demo dogs are my dogs Bernie and Royal and they each have their own leash "issues". Bernie only pulls if he sees a squirrel on our walks. The Balance Leash is ideal for him because I can easily and quickly use it for more control when he goes into "squirrel mode". Royal likes to pull and pull and pull like a train (if I let him). The balance leash is ideal for him, because it is so easy for his young body and active brain to understand.

For more on TTouch, check out www.ttouch.com for books and videos that are available. TTouch practitioners all over the world offer hands-on classes and private instruction on these techniques.

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