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— January 15, 2013 —

“My Leash Failed, but the Training Didn’t!”
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

Just this weekend, I saw a note on our Facebook wall by a friend. Louie is a 20 lb or so mixed breed. He’s cute, spunky and really, really fast. His mom is Caroline, who brought him for training with us a while ago. On Sunday, Caroline posted that her leash had failed, but her training didn’t. It probably saved her dog’s life. She was walking Louie next to busy Lake Shore Drive when his leash popped off without warning. Little Louie bolted, but Caroline called him just out of reflex. Louie returned and sat in front of her like a good dog. Stories like this make me feel very good about what I do. Every time I hear of this happening with a dog I trained, I feel personally rewarded.

The logic often is that small dogs couldn’t hurt anyone, or that small dogs don’t really “need” all that training or whatever. That belief couldn’t be more wrong. Often the owners of small dogs treat them very much like human babies. Unfortunately, treating a dog like a baby will usually create neurotic behaviors and can even lead to aggression. How many tiny dogs have you seen that were totally nasty while being held by their “mom”? While the overall damage tends to be less, a bite form a toy breed is no more enjoyable than a bite from a large breed.

Louie’s situation brings to light a much more common issue with smaller dogs. While they may never hurt anyone else, an untrained small dog may very likely hurt himself. A dog that is used to being coddled and carried may freak out if a leash fails, as in Louie’s case. Had Louie not been trained, he may have ended up in the middle of 6 lanes of traffic. A small dog has a much lower chance of survival if he is hit by a car. It’s a sad thing to think about, but it is something that must be discussed.

Ultimately, training any dog is for his own good. Training provides the dog with structure, a communication system and in some ways a coping mechanism for the world it lives it. All dogs, be they big, small, confident, fearful or anything else can benefit from formal training. It’s a gift you give your dog … and yourself.

Click for information on Bark Avenue Playcare’s training programs.