The Power of Using a Leash in Dog Training

November 26, 2023

When it comes to dog training,  one of the most valuable tools in this process is often right in our hands – the leash. In this article, we’ll explore how a leash becomes a powerful tool, not just for control and safety, but for effective communication and teaching proper behavior in our dogs.

Communication Connection

A flat leash becomes a communication link between trainer and dog. 

Through gentle guidance and subtle cues, a leash speaks the  language of expectations for the dog. It guides behaviors, and establishes a clear rapport between human and canine.

Focus and Distraction Management

In the excitement of new environments, around high distractions  or during training sessions, the leash provides focus. It helps our dogs tune in to our guidance and a conducive learning environment.

Have you ever found yourself in a training session with a client’s dog, only to struggle with keeping their attention? Imagine your client dog wanders off to play with another pet or saunters to the couch, totally disengaged from the lesson. Failing to use a leash in dog training is a familiar challenge for both trainers and dog owners.

Guests arrive

Doors to the outside world open

 The irresistible aroma of food 

 Training sessions without a leash, particularly in the early stages of commands like ‘place’, ‘down’  or ‘sit-stay,’ pose considerable difficulty. Most dogs are programmed to dash towards guests, interrupt commands and indulge in jumping, stealing and other forms of unwelcome behavior.

To address these issues, trainers often secure the leash to a heavy piece of furniture, creating a barrier that prevents the dog from racing towards guests or bolting out of the house. Holding the leash works too.  

Utilizing a leash doesn’t imply a taut restriction. In fact, the leash should remain slack. The key insight here is that ‘restraining is not training’.  Should the dog attempt to break command and approach guests, the leash simply halts their advances, preventing undesirable and unwelcome interactions.

Control and Safety

Walking in public with a dog off leash can lead to problems should the dog walk away from the handler.  They can approach unfriendly or nervous dogs on leash, run after wildlife, interact with children or land behind cars backing out of the driveway. Walking dogs on a retractable leash also pose dangers for dogs and handlers.

We often meet people who want their dog to walk off leash.  In some states this may be acceptable, in busier places such as our home base in Manhattan and Long Island, a bustling street plus a curious dog can lead to disaster.  Utilizing a leash can be the difference between safety and chaos.

In many states there are leash laws in place, particularly when walking in public spaces. New York has leash laws in effect.  What are the laws in your state?  Find out before taking a client and their dog for an off-leash walk around town.

In conclusion

Think of the leash as a gentle reminder, consistently reinforcing commands and desired behaviors. Whether it’s mastering loose leash walking or returning to heel position, the leash aids in guiding our dogs and reinforces training efforts. Leashes also teach dogs to be confident and responsive in various environments.

The leash is more than just a walking tool; it becomes a bridge between safety, effective communication, and behavioral reinforcement. It serves as a silent yet potent companion in your training journey.

Join the conversation! Share your leash training stories or tips in the comments. Explore further insights and tips for successful dog training through our online dog trainer course.

Written by Katie McKnight

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