Why Do We Avoid Using a Leash in Dog Training?
I answer a lot of questions about dog training in general.
That is what I do, I write, I read and I answer questions about dogs and dog training, I train and compete with my dogs. I have 20+ years of dog training experience.
I have done a lot and have a ton of experience in different areas, and yet there is still plenty to learn; but some things have just become basic knowledge to me, they have become my default.
Using a Leash is One of My Defaults
If I want to teach my dog something I use a leash so I can control him, his space, and help him to learn.
Occasionally I train tiny puppies without using a leash, I just get the clicker out and we play games, but I usually shut them in a room with me to take their option of leaving and grabbing a toy or rewarding themselves away.
Recently I was asked a question and my answer was to use a leash.
I think it was because the puppy was jumping on guests.
Although don’t get me wrong I recommend using leashes, yes even in the house, when guests come over and all the time until you earn the privilege of being off leash in the house.
But recommending a leash was considered cruel… or I was accused of being cruel.
Are There Other Ways of Training Without a Leash
Are there other ways or training without a leash? Sure there are other ways, but most of them aren’t kind.
Usually you have to use nastier methods, or ignore bad behaviors which often makes them worse if you refuse to use a leash.
For instance I once had a client complain that his dog got in the trash and would steal things out of it when they left the room, and he told me the story of how he broke the dog of the habit (sometimes we hear sad stories in this business.)
He waited until the dog knocked over the trash and crawled in it, then he snuck back into the kitchen, closed the trash bag around the dog and beat the sides of the trash can while he shook it back and forth.
Apparently, this method worked.
So when I suggested that another person’s dog who attended my class, who’s owner suffered from the same problem, put the dog on a leash and teach the dog “Leave It” then set something really good on the trash and teach the dog to leave it on command.
After all, we do throw some pretty great things in the trash; at least our dogs think so!
Which is Easier?
So which method is easier?
I’m just guessing (although I have never tried it) that beating your dog in a trash can and causing him or her severe fear of the trash can (since they must think it attacked them)would be much quicker.
But I also think that it would create fears and phobias in other places. Perhaps if you had a super confident dog, you would never see him or her fear things again but most dogs would be leery of things that looked like trash cans.
Putting your dog on a leash and actually teaching him what is acceptable and what is not will surely take you longer.
I asked the other owner if he had ever taught his dog “leave it” or not to get into the trash and he assured me the dog should “know better”.
Why Do We Expect Them to Know Better?
Without teaching them, why should we expect them to just come out of the womb knowing that stealing trash (or treats in their minds) is wrong?
Without teaching them to keep all four on the floor and not jump on people, why do we expect them to somehow “know” not to jump on us? Jumping is often how they greet each other, especially those they love and know.
You could boot your dog across the room when he jumps on your guests, or hit him, or use the “old” rolled up newspaper, but is that fair?
No!!! No! It is Not Fair or Humane
What is fair, is teaching your dog how to act and react and for that I think it is easier to use a leash so that I can more easily control the situation.
I can try and teach my dog without a leash, but I had better have treats or toys that are more exciting than everything else that is going on around him.
So When I Have People Over
So when I have people over I put my dogs on a leash and teach them how to respond. I also teach them about “Place” for more on that and teaching your dog click here.
A Leash is My Savior
I do keep my dogs on leash in the house until they earn the privilege of being off leash.
Being on leash almost FORCES me to teach them manners.
So many people complain about their dog stealing their underwear, chewing on things they shouldn’t, chasing the cat, or not getting along with the other dogs in the house.
My default is to use a leash.
If you can’t control yourself and you are bullying the other dogs or animals in the home, you’ll be on a leash or tie down so that everyone else can keep away from your bullying ways.
If you steal my underwear while you are on leash… well, I have to ask myself how you got that opportunity and being on leash will take the wind right out of your sails!
Do I Over Use My Leash?
Perhaps, perhaps I do!
But I have learned through years of having dogs of all ages enter my house, that if they are on a leash and I actually train them to do something; I end up with very well trained dogs!
And, when they make mistakes… and of course they do, they go back on leash so I can teach them!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.