What is the purpose of dog leash training?
To me, the goal is to eventually produce a dog that you don’t need to have on a leash. When you tell the dog to do something he does it if he understands what you want, and tries to figure out what you want if he doesn’t.
He’s happy and relaxed while he is working. His tail wags, his eyes are bright and his head is high. That’s the goal, and it all starts with proper leash training.
To illustrate this let me tell you a story about my dog Salladin. He was a Norwegion Elkhound/Spitz who brightened our lives for fifteen years and he had achieved the point of training development that I’m talking about.
The only time we put him on a leash was when he was being introduced to a new situation or when outside rules demanded it. Otherwise, he was always just there trotting along beside us or lying at our feet while we had coffee.
When we moved to Maple Ridge we joined a housing co-op that allowed dogs.
One of the regulations stipulated that all dogs had to on-leash in the building. So we walked Salladin all over the place without a leash and only hooked him up when we entered the building. This attracted a lot of attention and about a year after we moved in the board rewrote the rule to read: all dogs must be on a leash in the building, except for Salladin. True story.
Salladin didn’t start out that way though. He chewed things and pissed on the floor. He was defiant. He was also quite the little escape artist who could find his way through, over or around almost any fence when it was time for him to go out and roam the city.
Over the years we managed to build a relationship with him where we were in charge and he was happy to comply with our wishes, but it took a long time and his spirit and intelligence remained intact.
There was a lot more involved in this process than just leash training, but basic dog leash training was a vital part of it. Salladin is gone now and we’ve started the process over again with a Westie. She’s only ten months old and because she is such a high energy breed we think she’s quite a handfull.
The strange thing is that other people think she is amazingly well behaved.
People have even stopped their cars to comment on how nicely she walks when we’re out. To me, this is more an indication of how low the bar is generally set than how great my dog is. We still have a lot of work to do.
The goal of this blog is to help you establish the relationship you want with your dog. I’ll be talking about the equipment you need to accomplish this in the next post. For now, try to construct a vision of the way you want your dog to be.
If you can, spend some time with people who are successful with their dogs to give some reality to the process. Spend some time thinking about some basic goals you would like to accomplish so you know whether you are on the right track. Drop in again in a couple of days and we’ll discuss what kind of leash and collar you need to establish communication with your dog.