The lifting of the leash is a very useful correction that is not often spoken of.
I like to dive a bit deeper into when do we use it instead of just using the ecollar? And why is it more useful in certain situations?
The lifting of the leash is a “personal” correction. When we do it, the dog will know without a doubt that it is coming from us.
The continuous ecollar stimulation (touch of fire) is an “impersonal” correction. We can correct without saying anything or not even being there physically. When we do it, the dog may not know that we have anything to do with the correction.
Let me explain:
If the dog is leash reactive and he is always feeling trapped when he is on leash, he will try to lunge, growl, bark, and may be even bite when someone approaches him on leash.
In his mind, his decision to show aggression is absolutely related to the person holding the leash — the leash is keeping him from running away, and he is not sure if the person holding the leash can really keep him safe, so he’s better take matters in his own hand and tell those triggers to back off with aggression.
The leash is perceived as something that will make every thing much more threatening and risky for the dog.
The reactivity is rooted in the doubtful thought directed at the person holding the leash, “Are you sure you can protect me? Are you sure you can control the situation?”
If we only use an impersonal correction (e.g. only ecollar) to try stop this doubtful thoughtful, we could miss the mark by failing to address the personal doubtful thought, “are you sure…?”
Since this entire issue is about the dog viewing the leash — and the person holding the leash — as a weakness, we need to use a correction that will present the leash as something powerful, so the dog will learn to respect the leash — and hence trust the person holding the leash.
When we correct with lifting + ecollar once the dog growls or barks, we are telling the dog that being aggressive is something we absolutely do not approve, and we show the dog that we are able to very convincingly stop this inappropriate behavior right away with the leash, so the dog will know that we actually have the capability to control the situation when we need to and the leash is not something he should doubt but something he should respect instead.
When the dog really respects the person with the leash, the dog will be very mindful around the person. The dog will wait for permission and look to the human for direction before he acts. Hence no more sudden explosion.
The lifting of the leash paired with ecollar is a correction that the dog can tell is 100% coming from the human. When the dog realizes that the human can use the leash to administer this correction so powerfully and quickly, the dog will be convinced that the human must also have the power to control and stop other scary dogs just as effectively, so he will trust the human much more than before. He will therefore stand down and not attempt to take matters in his own hand.
When we apply the lifting, we can pair it with a continuous ecollar stim so we do not need to lift the leash up very hard physically and still be able to send a meaningful message across. We want the correction to be meaningful so that inappropriate behavior will stop within seconds.
When it is done at the right level and timing, the dog should not keep attempting the same thing again. We should see the dog stop showing aggression while trying to find other ways to deal with the situation. When we see that, it is imperative that we use the leash and ecollar to remind the dog what the right action is so the dog will not be left in a limbo feeling lost. We want to step in as someone who is willing and able to provide meaningful instructions that can help the dog to overcome his fear successfully.
For example, if the dog tries to hide after the lifting, we can use the leash to enforce a heel, down, or sit (depending on what you were doing before the correction), so the dog can have something he truly knows how to do to focus on and not feel lost.
The lifting should stop the aggression pretty quickly. It should not stop today and start tomorrow again and keep repeating itself.
After it is stopped, and after you have told the dog what he should do instead, the appropriate action should take hold and become the choice of action when the dog is facing what used to trigger a big reaction, so you will not need to correct like that again and again.
That is why and how we use the lifting.
Hope this makes sense.