Leash control

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Many countries and cities have passed legislation that requires dogs to be on leash every time they venture outside their properties and into public areas. Although laws may differ in cities and states, the main purpose of a leash includes, amongst others, preventing dogs from frightening or biting people or other animals. Also to prevent them from getting lost and endangering traffic – defecating and urinating in inappropriate places etc.


What you need in order to properly train your dog is a good quality, standard leash as well as a long line of at least 5m length. If you are going to do tracking then a 10m line will be essential.
First time dog leash users must have the bottom third dipped in white vinegar or coated with perfume (95% alcohol) or Listerine mouthwash etc. to prevent damage from chewing. Bitter apple – and other hot juices can also be used.
Standard Leashes
These are leashes that are 5 to 6 feet long. They come in the form of nylon or cotton and are most popular. Leather leashes have a softer feel on your hands and they are very durable. Do avoid chain leashes that can be very rough on your hands especially when training a large breed dog.
Do not get a flexi-leash for obedience training or for puppy socialising. These leashes retract into themselves and actually encourage a dog to pull. The more a dog is allowed to pull, the more they strain to get where they want to go. They are no good for training.
A training leash (5m) can be home made from 10mm ski-rope (easy on the hands) or tape. This prevents the dog from running off during training and having the lesson interrupted. By letting the line drag on the ground you can step on it and instantly stop the dog from moving too far out of reach.

The Tab Leash

A tab leash is a shorter leash and is usually from 6 to 24 inches long depending on the size of the dog. It is mainly used as a transitional leash before changing to off-leash obedience training. Tab leashes are on sale at some dog shops or you can make your own or shorten an old leash not being used any more.
During a period of remedial training of a dog with serious aggressive behavioural problems it is absolutely essential that the dog must be on leash every time you interact with or obedience train your dog. You must show the dog in addition to telling him what you want him to do.
When the dog has responded well to the remedial training and is ready to start off-leash training, the tab leash can be used during this time. It is light, does not drag on the floor and is easy to grab to correct and guide the dog in the right direction. When a dog is slow on getting up from a down, a sharp upward tug on the tab leash may be necessary.
Leash control
The leash is a most useful tool to “communicate” with your dog and to re-establish your control during training. A “pop” (tug) on the leash is known as a correction and literally is a message to the dog to “say”…”Stop doing what you are doing.” This can be in the form of what I term a “mosquito bite” pop which very often means that the dog will ignore your signal. A “bee sting” pop on the other hand should have a better chance of ensuring compliance. Dogs differ a great deal and each owner/handler must work out how strong the leash pop has to be for the dog to understand that he must pay attention. If a dog does not pay attention to his handler he cannot teach it anything.
Pulling on the leash
My pet question to members of my club is to ask, “What does a leash mean to a dog?” And the answer I want is –“To follow my handler and not for my handler to follow me” (The dog). Unfortunately nearly all first time club members are dragged from their cars right onto the training field by their dogs.
Do not allow yourself to get into this bad habit. Pulling on the leash is unacceptable! It can cause serious damage to a dog’s trachea or windpipe! Pulling on a harness is also not a solution unless you are doing tracking or bite work in Schutzhund.
What we want is for jour dog to watch you and follow you, without pulling when you are out walking together.
Your dog needs to know how long the leash is. In other words he must know at what distance away from you it will pull tight. Make sure that your dog has the whole leash length available; don’t gather it up to be shorter. Keep your left hand OFF the leash (I suggest a glass of red wine instead). The leash should always only be held in your right hand Put the loop of the leash over your right thumb and close your hand. Do NOT wrap the leash around your wrist. You can get badly injured if a big dog suddenly charges away. Remember, the dog will never know how long the leash is if you keep it tight. I use a 5m line but hold it at about 5 feet from my dog and let the rest drag on the ground.
Get your dog sitting next to you and then say, “Come with me” as you step off on your left leg. (“Heel” can come later). Praise and treat as soon as he walks next to you on a loose line. The moment the dog walks ahead of you, turn to your right, call his name, look straight ahead and continue walking at the same pace. Do not pop on the leash to get him to follow you. You warned him that you are going to turn by calling his name. The leash correction he will get when you move away from him is because he did not pay attention to you.
The dog will soon learn how long the leash is and to pay attention when he hears his name being called. I prefer walking in a square pattern at first and later vary it by going in the opposite direction with or eventually also without a warning before turning.
Always praise and treat when your dog is walking next to you. You are teaching him “leash manners”. He may sniff the ground and be distracted but he must NEVER pull you. You are out walking and enjoying the exercise. If another person and a dog come towards you, simply change direction or after more training say “Heel” and “Watch me” as you pass them. Remember to reward all good behaviour on a walk.

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