Walking a bully breed, like my year-old American Bulldog, Coco, is a chore if you don’t have a plan. I use hot dogs.
When walking this hulk of a dog, the main task is to keep him walking next to you, instead of in front of you. Two things happen if you let a bulldog, or any dog for that matter, lead you:
- he pulls your arm off
- he thinks he’s top dog, alpha, leader of the pack
You don’t want that, and you don’t want to be continuously scolding him. I didn’t let Bruce Banner into my home so I could have a go-around with him every day. I want both his life, and mine, to be as peaceful and full of violins as can be. Before I started constantly rewarding him for good behavior, Coco would challenge me for dominance. Boy, that wasn’t fun.
Then I began putting a bag of frankfurters in my right pocket. I’m left-handed, and the leash crosses my body and Coco walks on my right. All the while I am strolling the neighborhood, I have a piece of hot dog in my right hand. Coco’s head is just the height of the bottom of my fist, closed around the treat. He trails along behind the hidden wonder in my hand, wondering when I will have mercy on him.
Every block or block-an-a-half, I stop him and command him to sit. Immediate obedience. He wants that sausage! I make him wait 10-30 seconds for the reward. Then we resume our walk.
Every time Coco decides something ahead of us is of special interest, and he goes to investigate, I say “Hey.” That is my word for “Come back here if you want more treats.” Works every time. He’s back to trailing along, wanting Papa to have pity on him.
Every last dog show you’ve ever watched featured highly trained dogs responding to treats. Dogs aren’t fools, but they can be bribed. I liked hot dogs for the lure, and so does Coco.
I’m walking Coco tonight, and he spies an old man on the sidewalk ahead of us. His ears perk up, along with his head, and his gait becomes a little agitated. I tell him “Cool it, boy, we’ll feed you later. ”
Feeding a dog, or the proto-dog, the wolf, is where it began. A dog that feeds itself looks upon you, not as the guy with the sack of Purina Dog Chow, but as a meal. Multiply that dog into a pack, and humans are canine fricassee. It’s the feeding that short-circuits all that.
Domesticating an animal is a short-circuiting routine. You are stunting their growth into fully-grown, mature animals. Adult dogs rip your throat out when they get hungry. Better feed that animal if you want him to stick around.
Need a little proof of what I say? Try not feeding your dog for a spell. They’ll begin circling your easy chair, figuring out exactly where your weak spot is. Where to chomp. Hey, just put one on a diet, and they’ll look upon you as a traitor, and we all know what happens to Benedict Arnolds!
Now, an immature, stunted-in-growth dog is a wondrous thing. A friend for the ages. Man’s best friend. Roll her over on her back and rub her belly. That’s the proof that you’ve got a tame dog. Only puppies roll over and wait to get scratched.