Mastiffs and Flexis and Prongs. Oh, My!

I was hiking with Sierra around the local park trails yesterday when we spied a woman walking her dog. I’d seen this dog before—he’s hard to miss, being a bullmastiff. The handsome, brindled dog, who looks to be an adolescent, is normally walked by a man. Usually when we pass them, the man is telling the dog to knock it off because the dog has become mildly reactive toward us or another passing dog. This time, though, the dog was being walked by a woman—the wife, I presume.

At the point we encountered each other on the trail, there was no way for either of us to retreat—we had to pass each other, unless one of us wanted to do a U-turn and go way out of our way. So I stopped and waited as the woman led the bullmastiff to the side of the trail and asked him to sit. Hugging the opposite side of the path, I urged Sierra forward. As we passed, Sierra looked at the dog, and the dog became aroused. In a split second, two things became obvious: the dog intended to lunge at Sierra, and the woman did not have control of the dog. The dog was wearing a prong collar, and the woman had him on a flexible leash. Yes, a Flexi lead—with a prong collar! Although she had pressed the button that stops the lead from rolling out any further, the dog was able to drag her toward us.

At the same time the dog, all bluster and slobber, moved toward us, I inserted myself between him and Sierra. I’m not sure exactly how I ended up with my back toward the dog instead of facing him head-on and telling him to leave town, but it was the something about the combination of how we were physically situated and the vague notion that I’d be in position to kick back at the dog if needed while keeping Sierra safe. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, as the woman was finally able to gain control of the dog and drag him off. They walked off without a word.

I see people on a regular basis who do things with dogs that leave me either scratching my head or wanting to growl rather aggressively. Still, I’ve never before seen anyone walk a dog on a pinch collar with a Flexi lead. Whether you believe pinch collars are a viable training tool or a torture device spawned by Satan, there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. Attached to the clip of a flexible lead ain’t it. We continued on our walk unscathed, but I know we’ll run into the dog again. I’m hoping for the opportunity to have a few words with whoever’s on the end of the lead before things get out of control. I’d hate to think about the potential damage to dogs—the bullmastiff or others—if things don’t change.

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10 Responses to Mastiffs and Flexis and Prongs. Oh, My!

  1. r3dogz says:

    Wow really a flexi lead??? What in the world was she thinking?? I don’t allow those in my Basic Classes and I explain to people why I dislike them so much. I’m glad you and Sierra are both okay, how scary!

  2. Ashley says:

    Wow… I’m always trying to tell people how dangerous they can be in the wrong hands and how many dogs I’ve seen get into a lot of trouble on a flexi lead … Especially when walking around a busy city and crossing busy streets ….. They aren’t allowed in any of my classes and I always earn people to not use them unless they have the space to use them …. Sigh ..

  3. Mary Tews says:

    A flexi and prong combo are commonplace in Cincinnati. Along the same theme – a grooming client came in with 2 golden retrievers – a sweet, calm senior dog and a more boisterous adolescent, on prong collars with a coupler. Fortunately when I explained how unfair it was to the older dog every time the youngster would bolt off in some random direction she at least got rid of the coupler. Oh well, it’s a start…

  4. Joe says:

    I just started my learning about dog training almost a year ago and began to learn a lot about equipment. I was using a flexi for my dog for the longest time but have since gave it up and never will opt to use them again.
    The fact that this woman had a prong collar and a flexi at the same time made me cringe when I read that. That means that those prongs are constantly being pressed into that poor dog the whole time the flexi is attached (unless the button is pressed and the line is loose) but OUCH!

  5. Seen it, numerous times, here in Buffalo, NY. Usually the lead is extended all the way with a reactive German Shepherd at one end, and an (maybe lobotomized?) owner being pulled along at the other in flip flops. I fight back the urge to tell these owners that they could only have created a MORE hazardous situation if they had also set themselves and their dogs on fire before leaving the house.

  6. Tucker's Mom says:

    Wow, that’s scary. And sad.

  7. wildewmn says:

    Well, it’s disheartening to hear that so many of you see this in your areas on a regular basis. You’d think that despite the average dog owner’s lack of knowledge about training, this would be common sense. But as we know, common sense isn’t common. And Commongrounddog, while creating a horrible visual, your comment gave me a laugh this morning, thanks!

  8. Prong and chokes attached to Flexis are extremely popular here.

  9. Richard Donahue says:

    Your a professional! Just nicely and calmly offer a demonstration of how to properly use it. If you have another person available have them walk Sierra past the dog while making the dog correctly sit using the collar and then give the dog a treat for being good. You could also offer to walk the dogs together while maintaining proper control of the Mastiff and let them safely get used to each other and offer lots of high value treats. Thats what I would do. I know that immediate protection of your dog dictates doing what you did. But long term protection of your dog and others might mean helping out the Mastiff owner a bit in a friendly and calm manner.

  10. Very common here in Atlanta too. See it at my all over town and with a lot of new clients! Fexi leases ARE good for one thing….potty training a puppy in the rain. 😉

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