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My dogs are mostly walked off leash - we have lots of places to go, many with surfaced paths, friendly dogs and humans, and even dog friendly cafes (with loos!), so there is no problem finding pleasant walks. At this time of year there is often shooting going on in the surrounding hills, though, and if Sophy hears even the most distant bang she will sit down firmly at the very beginning of the walk and wait for me to return and go back to the car. Recently she started doing it anywhere she had recently heard a bang, so the effects of one shot could last for days. But I have found that if I put a lead on her she will trot perfectly happily beside me, gradually moving to her usual position slightly ahead of me , and eventually forgetting all about it and happily walking and exploring as usual when I take the lead off. She is very good at loose leash walking, but this is not just acquiescence: she relaxes, her ears and tail go up, and she is much happier - it seems to be the canine equivalent of having a friendly hand to hold. Has anyone else experienced this?

I have been taking chicken sticks on walks and handing out top-notch treats for horrible noises, but thank heavens the main season is now over - still clay pigeons and rabbits, but no more pheasant and grouse. It will take a few weeks to convince Sophy, though...
 

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fjm that is very interesting! Certainly being able to take the off leash sorts of rambles that you normally do illustrates the bond you have with your girls, but having the physical connection being so strongly reinforcing and supportive to Sophy is fascinating. Leashes do provide a visual evidence of a connection to a dog and hopefully people recognize that although leashes are coercive at the core there are ways to use them that are not coercive but reinforcing and supportive.

The experience I am thinking of in context of your story is with walking Lily in my neighborhood when she was young (about a year old, maybe a little younger). There is a home down the street where the family included a GSD. They thought he was well trained based on puppy K at a pet chain. He was actually a pretty unstable dog who would appear in the living room picture window or up on the raised deck peering over over the fence. He would bark, lunge, growl and be just generally very menacing without interruption of human efforts to abate the behavior. Lily was very worried about that dog and after passing the house decided to stop before we got there hoping I would turn around to avoid the horror show up at that house. I was not going along with her and I took wonderful cookies and gave them generously as we approached and moved past that house. She gained confidence and eventually was so relaxed walking by that house that the GSD calmed down. We would not have accomplished any of that without a leash and cookies.
 

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It is interesting, isn't it Catherine. If the leash were taut enough for her to feel vibrations I would suspect she was picking up that I am relaxed, but it is slack all the time, so much so that I need two hands to stop it tripping her. I too have used the leash and treats method, especially with Poppy, but this is the first time I have noticed one of my dogs simply being more relaxed because they are on leash. If anything they are usually a little more watchful, looking out for dogs and people they may want me to approach or avoid.

Much easier today - not even distant bangs!
 
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Asta has his freedom off leash on our 12 acres. But I have recently begun training him to go to town with me, Now he associates the leash with fun outings. He quickly picked up on this and now we are going to the front of Tractor Supply - next step going inside.

Asta has no fear of gunshots or fireworks - I am just lucky in that regard.
 

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She is very good at loose leash walking, but this is not just acquiescence: she relaxes, her ears and tail go up, and she is much happier - it seems to be the canine equivalent of having a friendly hand to hold. Has anyone else experienced this?
That's fascinating. Thanks. :)

We don't go to the Dog Park 'By the Bay' in Duck season.

One blast, and Tonka is loping for the gate.
To sit and wait for me to SAVE him. lol
 
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