Leash work puts pups
on the right track
THE leash is not only an outside lead, it truly is an inside lead - a way to lead your puppy or dog towards becoming a perfect little citizen. Our goal as trainers is to teach the puppy from day one to be a responsible citizen in the house, in public buildings and on the streets.
It is amazing how many people have come up to my husband and I over the years and said, "Gee, my puppy was never that good at four months old. How do you do it?"
The answer is that we treat the pup like a two-year-old human child. We love, guide and teach it constantly. We never leave it unattended unless it is left in a safe place like a crate or dog pen (we use a metal dog playpen and have it set up in the house. It is easy to put outside or pack in the boot of a car for a trip).
Would you let a toddler run around the house unattended to crayon the walls or chew on your couch, then expect the toddler to understand what it did wrong 20 minutes later? Probably not.
Here is what we do:
We start this at eight weeks old and usually do it for about two months. It depends on the pup. Use your good judgement. Use a six-foot leash and loop it around your waist, or hold it if you want to. That way, everywhere you go the puppy goes. It is important for these reasons:
The dog won't get into something that will harm it.
When the pooch grabs at something inappropriate like trash, food on the floor, etc you can say "no" or "don't" immediately and give it it's own toy immediately and praise immediately. The key is "immediately" and that can only happen when the dog is with you. If you need a puppy break, say you want to wash the floor or make an important phone call, put the dog in its playpen with its toys just like a small child. Maybe give it a little treat. The playpen is his safe place and is not a punishment. It's his bedroom. Keep the door open when he is not in it so he can wander in and out if he wants to.
The dog learns early on to "hang" with you and after a few months will follow you everywhere. (By that time, when he isn't in your sight you'll know something is up!) The first few months are busy for the both of you, but it is worth it! He learns quickly to play with only his toys and to bond with you. You will be teaching and training all the time because the dog is with you, just like your children. (Even when you go to the bathroom - a perfect place to work on 'down stay' or 'sit stay').
It is easier to work on even the basic commands because you can do it while you are doing other things like 'down' when you're folding clothes or watching TV. When you answer the front door, it's a perfect time to practice 'wait', 'sit' or 'down'. Because the pup is on a leash, follow through is very easy. They, like little kids, are sponges. They want to learn and love the attention.
The leash in the house can work with older dogs that may need a little help with a problem. For instance, if your older dog has excitable greetings when someone comes to the door, leash the dog before answering (hang an extra leash by the door so it is always handy) and put the dog in a 'down stay' by the door. Once the person is in and the dog is calm, release the dog. Just explain to the guest you're doing a training exercise. Again, it's easier to follow through with a leash.
The leash can be a wonderful and gentle tool. Instead of yelling at the pooch from across the room or getting frustrated with puppy behaviour, it allows the human puppy parent and puppy to become a team. - Sally