People’s bodies and energy change when their animal no longer has a leash or lead rope on.
Perhaps they are calm and confident when they have “control”. It may seem they have a good communication with their animal, but you can’t overlook the drastic shift in connection when the line comes off. What these people are missing is a fairly simple concept. Pretend you have a “leash” on your animal when you don’t, and pretend you don’t when you do.
What I mean by that is this:
When you change your body language drastically after taking your dog’s leash off, the language with which you’re trying to talk to your dog is different. Your dog will most likely not listen to you, because he no longer understands what you want. You’re frantically yelling, bending over to lure him towards you, chasing him… things you never did before. Simply walk calmly with them as if you have a leash on and your dog will most likely walk right along with you.
Having a leash on your dog is a wonderful opportunity to prepare your dog for not having a leash on (primarily in a new environment). Instead of micromanaging your dog when they have a leash on, work with them as if you don’t have this “tool” or “safety net” leash. For example, if you’re on a walk, give them a warning sound before correcting them. Maybe a “sst” and then a correction with the leash only if they don’t react. Just like a dog would. This way, when you’re without a leash, you can use this communication. They go ahead: “sst”. Done. No drama.
Ideally, a leash or rope wouldn’t be used at all: time, patience and savvy! Unfortunately, but sometimes thankfully so, living with other humans (especially in such a close proximity) leashes and lead ropes are necessary. There are so many dogs and the way they march by each other on walks isn’t natural for them. As a dog trainer, I am very thankful (daily) for those certain dogs who are on a leash. People who have no communication or relationship with their dog should not let them off the leash.
Try to keep this in mind when you work with your horse or dog – what ever animal it might be. How can you use your ropes even less? How can you keep calm and clear when you have no ropes on?