Yesterday, as I didn't go to the barn, the dogs were deprived of their exercise. So in the evening, my husband and I put their leashes on and took them for a walk.
We have those extra-long retractable leashes to allow the dogs to explore and run more freely than if they had to stay close by our side. The quiet enjoyment of my stroll is sometimes rudely jolted by Malcolm running to the end of his leash and yanking. One of the techniques that I've used to try and fix this issue, both with Malcolm, and (in the past) with Chloe, is to stop when I feel a pull and refuse to move until the pressure is relaxed. This has met with only limited success, as Malcolm will back up to let the pressure off but then repeat the whole process a few minutes later.
Last night, for some reason, I reacted a little differently. I've always focussed on what the dog is doing - stop when he pulls, wait until he is not pulling and proceed. But this time, my attention turned to myself - I thought: I'm not moving until I feel comfortable, until I'm not being pulled out of balance. At the moment when I felt safely back in my own balance, I continued walking - regardless of whether or not there was a slight tug. And while walking, if I felt a little tension, I didn't stop unless I felt it interfered with my serenity.
Well, I'd like to say that Malcolm was perfect for the rest of the walk. That would be an exaggeration. However, I can definitely say things went a lot better than usual. Malcolm, although visibly oblivious to my presence on the other end of the leash, was behaving differently.
Today at the barn I remembered this when Bridget did her usual wham-here's-my-butt-scratch-it-now shove, a move which definitely carries topple potential for the bipedal recipient. So, today, rather than focussing on pushing Bridget off me when she slammed into me, I thought about how I felt. I thought about it only once - and for the rest of the time, she behaved completely differently. She leads into the shove by sliding next to me - but today, after the slide, rather than slamming into me, she kindof sidled her back legs away a little.
She (and Malcolm) must be about 1000% more sensitive than us humans, which is what everyone keeps saying, but when you see it in action it is very, well, humbling.
So I'm glad I didn't go the barn yesterday. And thank you, Malcolm.