but not .... in the lead!
First of all, let’s get it clearly established in our minds, that a lead is something you
use to “talk” to your dog. It’s not something that the poor owner hangs on to for dear life, whilst being dragged along by some out of control Scud missile!
- It should, apart from the occasional “emergency”, only be needed to attract your dog’s attention to your next command. A gentle “pull” on the lead and
calling its name is all that should be required to get its attention - have it look at you - and wait.
- Ideally, at no other time should the dog even be aware of the fact that it has a collar around its neck - which means that it needs to be lightweight and comfortable.
- Very gentle and basic introduction to being on a lead can begin as early as 8 or 9 weeks. For this we use a very, very lightweight nylon webbing type - and we
continue using lightweight nylon all their lives.
- A good check on a correct fit with the collar is that you must be able to comfortably slip at least two fingers between the collar and the dog’s scruff.
- If it’s too tight, it can distress and cause serious injury to your puppy.
- If, however, it’s too loose, it will simply slip over the puppy’s head - and it’s a simple matter to put it back on again - maybe just a little tighter.
- Keep checking the size - puppies can grow at an amazing rate. A collar that was a comfortable fit last week, may be close to throttling the little person
within days - so you’ll need a bigger one - another good reason for not wasting your money on leather!
- Exactly how, and when to start lead training is all a bit “intuitive”. Some suggest that putting the lead on the puppy and letting it run around with it in
its mouth, is a good way to start. I’m convinced that this definitely sends the wrong message to the dog - it amounts to saying “Hey - here’s the lead - go
where you like”, which is not what we’re trying to achieve.
- We often combine it with house training - having carried the little puppy out and placed it on our “selected” area, and waited until it’s finished, we have its
undivided attention, because it’s expecting a biscuit.
- Give it one - slip the lead on - call its name - take it for a 10 yard walk up the path - then lift it - praise it - and carry it back to the house - for another treat.
- By 10 - 12 weeks the puppy will look forward to having its lead put on and being taken outside.
- If it starts to pull - stop - stand still - patting your heels - call it back. When it comes, give loads of praise - and start again. Do this every time.
- Sooner or later ..... you’re going to encounter problems with your puppy’s natural curiosity and its wish to explore its territory - and even then - see what’s around the next corner.
- Make sure that you go the way that you want to go - and persuade it that your path is much more exciting than his.
- It really doesn’t know any better - everything’s new - which makes it an ideal time to do things your way.
- Don’t allow it to pull ahead of you - stop - call it back - and start again.
- If it insists on pulling - halve your walking pace.
- Similarly, if it persists in dragging behind - noticeably increase your pace.
- Make it fun by giving it little treats - when it stays by your side.
- If it insists on pulling one way - take it another way - your way.
- Basically, we’re explaining to the puppy - always gently but firmly - that you’re the pack leader, and you’re going to decide where - and when - and at what
speed - you’re going.
Just in passing ........
- We always remove collars before the puppy goes to bed at night.
- It helps to associate collar and lead with “walks” - and good fun.
- Safety - we don’t want our puppy to get tangled up and possibly hurt.
- I don’t wear a collar in bed - so why on earth should my dog!
Lead problems with “older” dogs .... We all know that in the wild, dogs live in packs with a pack leader - who leads from the front. Do you remember when your dog was
a little puppy, and you took it out into the garden to play, and followed it around, making happy noises? Well, it’s just come back to haunt you! Whilst in the house,
the puppy was left in no doubt that it was on your territory, on your terms, and you were pack leader, but outside, you seemed quite happy - within reason - to follow.
So ..... let’s try to re-establish you as “Pack Leader” ....
- For this - and any other training of more mature dogs - we use a 1.5m x 2.5cm lead and a 2.5cm collar - all made of lightweight nylon webbing.
- Let’s assume that you’re out with your dog - on the lead - on your left.
- When it starts to “pull” - call its name - pull on the lead - and do an “about turn” to the right - so taking the lead - and the dog - around the outside of the circle.
- Don’t let it take the “shortcut” on the inside of the circle - you’ll end up with the lead wrapped around your back!
- The dog - hopefully now by your side - will appear confused by this.
- Good - for once, that’s what we want - we’re re-programming it.
- Pause - praise - and continue round and complete the turn - still with the dog on the outside of the circle - then carry on walking.
- It’ll happen again - and when it does - repeat the exercise.
- You’ll probably get a bit “giddy” the first day - but it should work in time.
....... and if it doesn’t .......
Just in passing ...
Some people try using using a harness type of lead / collar..
There are two products on the market that I’m aware of, neither of which I approve
and I’d be very reluctant to use on any dog of mine.
A head collar - a rather ugly looking contraption with part of it wrapped over the
dog’s nose. To a non-dog person, it looks a bit like a muzzle, which makes them pull away from the dog - which encourages the dog to pull towards them. and ......
A body harness - similar in many ways to a dray harness - used by dray horses and
Eskimo huskies - both of which are designed to make pulling easier!
Under the circumstances, both designs seem rather counter productive to me.