Learn the best way to keep control of your canine pal in public areas
You’d think it would be simple to buy a collar and lead for your dog but the choice is phenomenal and can be confusing. If you bring a puppy into your home, your dog should be taught to walk by your side from an early age. In adopting an older dog, finding out what commands they know already is beneficial and you can begin work with them. The easiest way to train your pet is to make it an enjoyable experience for you both, using rewards to get their attention. This takes time, commitment and above all patience. Sessions should be short and frequent. One person may take responsibility for training but in a family/shared house situation everyone needs to be following the same pattern so as not to confuse the dog. There’s no point in having a ‘no dogs on the furniture’ rule when they are allowed on the sofa by another person! Consistency is key and the lead you chose can be vital too.
Training leads, long lengths of lead in varying sizes, are designed to be used whilst training in a confined area eg garden or quiet open fields/parks. They are there to help with recall and to give you some control whilst working with your dog especially if they are reactive. They are not designed for everyday use letting your dog walk a distance from you and shouldn’t be confused with retractable leads. The latter are popular and are suitable with some dogs but not all. Dogs soon learn that pulling means the cord extends (this can happen even when the lead is ‘locked’) and are rewarded with more freedom. However, this can extend into lack of control in situations where your dog is several metres away from you doing as they please. There have been instances of severe injuries caused by the lead cord getting wrapped around animals and people, cutting into skin and even muscle!
Your lead is like an antennae to your dog, they can feel through it, and of course, it and a collar should be comfortable and safe. There is a lot of advice available at RSPCA England & Wales on dog training, including info on how to teach your dog to walk without pulling.
We all want our pets to enjoy the freedom of running without restriction. It is crucial however, that your dog can be recalled when you ask and you shouldn’t become reliant on training aids. The ABTC, Animal behaviour Training Council has a database of registered practitioners if you need help.