Archive for the ‘Leash Training’ Category

Your Leash Training Questions Answered

Gemma | September 4th, 2006
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Leash training is hugely underestimated by new dog owners. The process of getting your puppy or adult dog used to being on leash is fairly simple and just takes a little bit of your time. Trust me, this small investment of properly training your dog to walk politely on his leash will pay high dividends in the near future, especially if your puppy will grow up weighing 50 or more pounds.

Leash Training Questions

I get at least a dozen or more questions each week from new dog owners that ask me about leash training. They want to know what type of leash is best, what type to avoid, how long they should walk their dog, how to get the dog to stop pulling, etc.

Below I have listed a few of these common leash training questions for your benefit. Remember, there is no one best way to do anything so when it comes to dog training, whether it involves leash training or other lesson, it is okay to mix in your own training ideas so long as you keep it 100% positive. Negative dog training is not recommended and highly discouraged.

Having said that, here are a few basic leash training questions:

1. How much room should I allow the leash to extend when walking my dog? According to most dog trainers, your puppy or adult dog does not need anymore than 5 to 6 feet of distance to roam when you are walking him. This is plenty of room for you to keep control of the situation, while at the same time giving your dog a chance to sniff out small areas along the way.

2. What type of material should my leash be made of? If you walk into any pet-specific store you’ll find that the majority of leashes for sale are made of nylon. Nylon is easy to wash and comes in all kinds of pretty colors. However, they will burn your hand if the dog suddenly pulls and the leash moves through your fingers.

My recommendation is to use a leather leash. In fact, a 6 foot leash made of leather is the perfect size and material. It will last a long time and you will not experience any type of burning sensation if it is pulled. The grip is firm and your control is increased.

3. What about using chain leashes? Chain leashes are practically indestructible and will last a very long time, but just like nylon material, a chain leash can hurt your hands if the dog yanks hard and your grip slips. In fact, the injury could be much more severe than a nylon burn.

4. How wide should the leash be? This answer is very simple. A leash that is approximately inches to inches is ideal. Try to avoid heavy, bulky leashes.

Which Leash To Use When Leash Training Your Puppy

Gemma | August 31st, 2006
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What could be more adorable than a tiny 10-week-old German Retriever walking down the street with its owner, pulling at the leash as it excitedly greets anyone who walks by? These little puppies put so much effort into seeing what’s going on and are almost always greeted with a pat on the head and a smile from passing strangers.

This is all cute and adoring, that is until the dog reaches a bodyweight of 50 to 60 pounds and is literally dragging its owner down the street on the leash. The once happily smiling owner is now gritting her teeth and doing all she can to keep the dog from pulling her down the sidewalk.

As strangers pass by it takes all of the owner’s muscle and might just to hold the dog back from getting its dirty paws all over these people. Eventually, these types of dogs who have no leash control end up spending all of their time in the backyard without ever being walked.

Leash Training Should Begin Immediately

Many dog owners who purchase a new puppy totally underestimate just how vital it is to invest time into leash training, and from as early an age as possible, especially when they have a pup that will grow 6 to 10 times it’s puppy size. They do not realize that training begins the instant their new dog comes home.

Any and all behaviors a puppy practices will become a learned subconscious activity. In time the dog will not think twice about what it is doing, even though it may be a wrong action that you disapprove of. In all fairness to the puppy, what do you expect if you ignore sound training principles early in its life? What choice does the dog have?

The Importance Of Having The Proper Leash

Having the right type of equipment can make or break dog training. Using the proper tools can either make your training experience pleasant and productive, or a complete waste of time.

What is the best leash for training purposes?

Fortunately, when it comes to leash equipment, you can’t go wrong with most of them. However, there is one type of leash that is not recommended for training purposes and that is the retractable kind.

Retractable leashes are available in all sizes and extend at different lengths. These leash devices are simply a plastic casing that fits into your hand which has a control trigger that either releases the leash to extend up to a certain length and can then be locked at the specific distance you choose.

Yes these types of leashes can definitely be a benefit for many situations, but for training a new puppy or even an adult dog, you need to have a leash that can provide constant tension on the dog’s neck.

You also need to keep a very short distance between you and your dog, which is very hard to do when using a retractable leash. With too much distance, your dog will have no concept that you are even walking with him.

Lastly, you must have consistent leash pressure and release moments in order for the dog to understand the commands you are teaching him, such as heeling. With a retractable leash, it can extend at different distances and be locked inconsistently. Your puppy may become frustrated as it perceives unfair and irregular corrections each time you vary the length and lock it in place.

Leash Training 101: Try Using Food Instead Of A Clicker

Gemma | August 27th, 2006
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Though clicker training garners results with leash training, not everyone is comfortable with it. Personally, I do not use a clicker when training my dogs. I prefer to keep the rewards mixed. A rub, praise, toy or food can be intermixed as rewards when you get the response you want.

Food is great for luring a dog into behavior, but once the dog has the concept, humans have a hard time of getting rid of the treats. Be unpredictable in your rewards, make a game of it.

Always impress upon the dog that the fun stuff comes when the leash is slack. Learn how to use your voice and facial expressions so that your dog wants to be near you. These are training tools that you never leave at home. Practice different pitches and sounds to see which attract your dog’s interest.

Many trainers have concerns about using treats, but they must remember the significance of raising the criteria. This means asking the dog to do more before giving it a reward. Your dog may learn to walk beautifully by your side as long as you keep clicking and treating, but what happens when your pocket is empty? Try to make him do a bit more during each walk go a bit farther between treats or ignore bigger distractions.

Despite its age, your adult dog will need the same considerations as a puppy during leash training. When the leash goes taut, help the dog understand why you stopped by using your voice to get his attention. If he is too busy barking or pulling forward something it finds particularly enticing, use treats or a toy to distract it from its mission.

Have these special rewards ready before hitting the known problem area and work to keep your dog’s attention. This will help your dog learn to ignore the bothersome barking dog or that tempting squirrel nest.

Understandably, we all would like instant results, but dog training seldom works that way. It may take weeks or even months to persuade the dog that pulling is no longer effective. Owners can become discouraged, concluding that they are doing something wrong or their dog is hopeless.

So in the end, even if the results are slow in coming, keep in mind that even 2 steps without pulling is progress, and you must praise, praise, and praise some more! Soon it will be 3 steps, then 4 steps, and so on.

The change won’t happy overnight, in a week, or even a month it’s going to take time, fairness and consistency, which means practice almost every day, perhaps for months. Overall, it’s a relatively small investment to achieve years of benefit.

Leash training is a deceptively difficult aspect of training. Dogs learn to pull much more readily than they learn not to. For those who do dedicate the time and effort needed to train leash manners, the results are worth it.

Leash Training 101: The Golden Rule

Gemma | August 23rd, 2006
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The majority of dog owners address the issue of leash training only once it becomes a problem. In the beginning, when walking their dog, they initially think it’s cute that a puppy pulls away the entire walk to the park because, they think, that the dog just can’t wait to play with its ball. But once this pattern of pulling in ingrained, it take patience to retrain.

No matter what equipment and training method you choose, experts will tell you to abide by one golden rule when teaching leash manners: any pulling by the dog means all forward motion ceases.

As soon as your puppy or dog puts tension on the leash, you stop every time! Ah, but rather than just stand there and make this a battle of wills, we humans outsmart our clever dogs and convince them that putting slack in the leash really works on their favor. Therefore, training will include treats, praise and other positive payoffs.

Add A Clicker To The Mix

Help your dog learn that it’s a good idea to stay close to you, that good things happen when you’re nearby. To achieve this goal, we suggest that you use a clicker, which is a small, handheld device that makes a click sound when pressed.

The click marks the desired behavior the second it occurs and is immediately followed by a treat. A clicker is a good way to cut through the environment clutter that is a part of most leash walks, and helps your dog to focus on you and what it’s doing to get paid.

The clicker helps teach your dog to ignore tempting distractions because you become more interesting to your dog than anything else.

Not surprisingly, a young pup that has never had a chance to develop the habit of pulling is the easiest to teach. First, gather up your training tools and snap the leash on the buckle collar. Start walking and talking to the puppy in a happy, friendly voice. As he turns to look at you and the leash goes slack, CLICK!

This interaction teaches your dog that you are, indeed, an integral part of being walked.

Note: Frequent clicks and treats while walking will help teach your dog that the big payoff usually happens within a one-foot radius around you. Most pups will begin to stick around in hopes of another reward.

Leash Training 101: Do You Have The Right Mindset?

Gemma | August 16th, 2006
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Leash training your dog is much more than actually following a few steps and guidelines. It’s the actual mindset of the owner that is the single most important element. Success or failure, joy or frustration all depend on how you approach your dog’s walking sessions.

Start your leash training off on the right paw, so to speak. If you have a puppy that is unaccustomed to a leash and collar, let it first adjust to the feel of a buckle collar only. Once it is comfortable wearing the collar, snap on a short, light line and watch while it drags that around. Leave the line on for 10-minute sessions a couple of times a day until your puppy no longer pays attention to it.

For an older puppy or adult dog that you have had fitted for a headcollar or prong collar, again, let it have time to adapt to the feel of this new device before snapping on a leash. Do not leave specialty collars on an unsupervised dog. Because both prong and headcollars tighten with pressure, a dog can suffer serious injury if the collar catches on an object. Pay close attention to your dog during these get-comfortable sessions.

It’s important that you approach training with the right attitude, because teaching leash manners requires absolute consistency on your part. Every walk becomes a training session, whether you plan on it or not. There is no such thing as We train when we walk after work, but all the other walks are just walks.

This is a difficult concept for people, as we are impatient, hurried, and often doing something other than paying attention to our dog as it walks.

While your dog is learning, there should be no rushed walks, no stops to chat with neighbors, no using the time to make a call on your cell phone, etc. You can’t expect your dog to become mindful of you during a walk if you consistently ignore it.

Likewise, recognize that your dog doesn’t pull on the leash to aggravate, annoy, punish or get back at you it’s simply a matter of cause and effect. The dog is thinking: I pull, you follow, and therefore, I get to where I want to go.

You must reshape this thought process. Put emotions aside, view your lessons as an opportunity to forge a new relationship, and decide that from this day forward you and your dog will learn how to enjoy your walking time together!