BEING A STRONG HANDLER
You don't have to be a strong person to be a strong handler! A lot of it comes down to good communication with your dog, technique, and advocating for your dog!
COMMUNICATION: Clear communication is required to let your dog know when they are doing something wrong. If they don't understand your expectations, they have no idea it's inappropriate to pull us over to that other dog across the street! Using the Marker System is the fastest way to communicate with your dog, and BE CONSISTENT! Don't let your dog get away with anything bad, even once, no mater how cute they are, and use the same words/corrections with them so they understand the expectations. Remember, keeping your dog crated when you aren't watching them, and on leash in the house makes it impossible for them to do something bad and you miss the opportunity to give a correction or praise.
TECHNIQUE: If you have a strong dog, there are always ways to not let them push you around! Keeping your dog on leash prevents opportunity for the zoomies or jumping up, and if they are strong for a regular leash, put them in TRANSITIONAL on the slip lead! Sometimes the transitional takes some getting used to, but you can train them on it similarly to muzzle training, and consistency. Don't give them the opportunity to pull it off themselves, or they will try every time. Dogs that need a strong handler will take advantage of you if they think they can get away with it, so be firm and never let them "win". On walks, keep your pup on a shorter leash so they aren't in front of you. I usually walk my pups with about 24 inches, sometimes less, and with the leashes held behind my back/legs). Less leash gives them less momentum to pull if they suddenly pull! Keep your pup beside or behind you, instead of in front. Dogs have a lot of forward pulling strength, but not side to side. If your pup wants to lunge at something while walking beside you, rotate your body away form them so you're pulling them off balance around your legs. You have more strength in your core and legs than your arms, use it!
ADVOCATING: Don't put your dog in a situation that they won't do well in if you can't handle it and work with them. As with training, work up to distractions. If this means just walking your dog up and down your street to start, that's ok! Mental exercise is more tiring than physical exercise! If your dog is leash reactive and you don't feel you can work with them on an icy day, turn around when you see another dog, cross the road, walk in circles through a parking lot. If someone has their dog off-leash and you don't want to meet them, yell at them from 50 feet away "put your dog on leash!". Sometimes people make excuses like "Oh but I'm really good with dogs, blah blah blah". Don't feel bad lying to them to get them to give you space. If saying "My super aggressive dog with kennel cough and fleas and ticks and mange doesn't want to meet your dog" does the trick. It's better than putting your dog in a position where they might not do well. :)
If your dog is nervous around other dogs/new people/children, just tell them not to interact. If your dog is jumping up on people, tell them to not give your pup attention, even if it is a cute puppy (also, correct that immediately!). Your roommate wants to bring your pup up onto the couch or give them their sandwich crusts, tell them that it isn't ok. As a dog parent, its YOUR JOB to set your pup up
It seems like the dogs that need a strong handler are always the cutest! If you are interested in learning more about being a strong handler send me an email!