Tethering Your Dog Can Help Modify Behavior
Tethering or leashing your dog or puppy can be a fundamental element for modifying behavior and solving problems…it is a good thing when done correctly. It is applicable to many situations and when used properly, is highly effective in communicating with your dog what behaviors you do and do not desire from him/her. The four steps of this program are laid out in detail for you below.
Tethering Empowers You Through:
- Physical Leadership: Clearly communicating to your dog that you completely control his environment and he completely depends upon you to fulfill his needs.
- Friendship: Creating a very strong bond between you and your dog.
- Setting new behavior patterns: You determine where he goes, what he lays upon, what he is allowed to chew on, etc. You are forming new habits and teaching him which are acceptable behaviors for the rest of his life.
- Breaking old habits: It takes time to break old habits and create new ones.
- Eliminating Confusion: Defining boundaries for your dog as to what behaviors are allowed, clearly teaching him what you desire from him, making him happier, more confident and trusting of you.
Guidelines for tethering…
- BE CONSISTENT! Don’t let your emotions rule you, be as consistent as possible with your attitude, energy, rules, and interactions with your dog.
- Never leave a dog that is tied (tethered) unattended! Accidents, most commonly strangulation, have occurred.
- Provide adequate water and potty breaks for your dog.
- Do not dehydrate your dog!!!!
- Provide lots and lots of exercise!
- Provide adequate supervision when dogs and children are together!
- Provide enough things to keep your dog busy! If puppy gets into trouble on the tether program, you aren’t paying enough attention.
- Do not leave your dog tied up in the same place. He should move with you through the house.
- Provide fair, consistent, understandable regulations, attention and affection.
- GIVE him acceptable things to chew on, usually 3-4 at the most at a time.
- Provide rugs and comfortable places to lie.
- Keep a positive attitude and be willing to accept responsibility if he makes a mistake while on your watch.
- The Steps of the Tether Program, described below are meant to be a very over-generalized example. We recommend you try the Step One level for a minimum of four weeks and then begin moving into Step 2 level intermittently, say you let the dog drag the leash around for 15 minutes at a time once or twice a day, and then the rest is he tied. The next day you do three or four periods of dragging, and so on until the dog is fully at Step 2. Then you begin to allow him out of sight for a few minutes (Step 3) before checking on him. As the dog makes fewer mistakes and more good decisions, he earns his freedom and your trust!
- At any time, should things suddenly regress, go back to whichever level of freedom the dog is not having trouble on, stay there for anywhere from three days to two weeks, and then begin progressing forward again.
Steps of the Tether Program
- Step One: NO Freedom. The dog is on a leash, attached to someone or something in the room with a responsible adult who is in charge of the dog’s behavior, at all times. When the dog cannot be supervised, the dog is crated. Do not move on to Step Two until you have had a minimum of three weeks without any behavior problems. (Advised starting time frame for an adult dog for behavior modification 3-4 weeks, puppies can be 1-6 months.)
- Step Two: A LITTLE Freedom. The leash remains attached to the dog, but the dog may now drag the leash around within your sight, he is not allowed to go out of sight at any time. When the dog cannot be supervised, the dog is crated. (Minimum of two weeks without any problems.)
- Step Three: MORE Freedom. The leash remains attached to the dog, but the dog now drags the leash around going in and out of your sight, anywhere in your home the dog is allowed to go. When the dog cannot be supervised, the dog is crated. (Minimum of two weeks without any problems.)
- Step Four: LOTS of Freedom! Follow Step Three but begin removing the leash for short periods of time; 5 – 15 minutes in the morning, for a few days. Increase the length of time from 15 minutes to 30 minutes and add in 15 minutes in the afternoon or evening. Increase the time and frequency until the dog is trusted to be leash-less in the house when you are home. If you are not home, the dog should be crated or tied. (This will be the same method you will eventually use to achieve having your dog off leash in your home while you are gone, but do not hurry to make that happen. It all depends on your dog.)
Notes: Take him outside on leash and have your dog drag the leash when outdoors in a fenced area during playtime, also have him drag the leash if you are actively playing with him indoors, but tie him or crate him as soon as you are finished interacting.
Potty your puppy after play time, nap and meals, as well as intermittently throughout the day.
The first few days are an adjustment period for you both; your dog will test you to see if you are serious. Please focus on your goals with patience and love, remembering that this is a tool to establish leadership, set boundaries, practice good habits and instill good behaviors while breaking and preventing unwanted behavior patterns and habits.
If you run into problems as you advance through the steps, back up to your last successful step and remain there for two weeks. Your dog simply wasn’t ready to move on.
Remember to be diligent with the other aspects of your training program throughout this time, such as Working for a Living, being a fair leader and practicing your obedience cues. This is not a race. Do not be in a hurry to get through the program, please focus on the benefits of behavior modification and the opportunity that you have to bond with your dog during this time. You are building a relationship for life.
Never leave a dog who is tied up unattended or with children! A responsible adult needs to supervise at all times!
Supervision is required when dragging a leash to prevent getting caught and potentially injured by the leash.
As a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.