Updated: Jun 18, 2019
What comes to mind when you think of a leash? If I were a gambling man, I'd bet you're imagining your dog(s) becoming overwhelmed with excitement in anticipation of the obligatory walk. Then probably walking outside with your dog while enjoying a cool breeze or perhaps being pulled down the street like you're just a weighted object in a leash pulling contest. Am I right? Although this article is not about how to walk your dog on a leash (stay tuned for a video), it is about using the leash as an invaluable tool to help get control over your dog in your home.
If you only think of the leash in regards to being outside with your dog, we need to talk. Countless times I am called to someone's home because of an out of control dog or dog(s) with the client begging me to work my "magic" and transform their devil-in-disguise dog into the little angel they've always dreamed of. After just moments of being in the home - observing the dog running around, jumping on furniture, grabbing random items and generally acting like the house was their very own personal playground designed just for them, I have but one single statement, "you need to put your dog on a leash." Without fail, I immediately get hit with a confused look followed by the inevitable question, "in the house?".
At this point in my career, I am so used to the reactions that I can't help but smile and say "yes" knowing that they're about to experience the most magnificent magic trick they've ever seen in their entire life while simultaneously making David Copperfield look like my bitch (no disrespect, Mr. Copperfield). As soon as I pull out my heaven-sent leash and put it on their dog, BOOM, calmness. It never fails.
Could it really be that simple? Put a leash on your dog in the house, and 90% of your problems disappear? Well, sort of. You do have to actually be at the other end of the leash, some of the time. While it is simple, there is mindfulness that you must apply on your end. Meaning, you have to pay attention to and control your dog. Because you know, it's not really a magic leash. But, it gives you the power to control your dog, and this is where it gets simple.
What I tell my clients to do is this; keep the leash on your dog whenever you can be mindful of them and watch them. Plan on sitting down at your computer to get some work done? Great! Have your dog with you (on a leash of course) and tether the leash to the chair, the desk, or your ankle. Keep their bed close by with an appropriate chew bone or stuffed kong for their entertainment (mental stimulation). Want to sit and watch t.v.? Awesome! Have your dog with you, on a leash and tether it to the foot of the couch, your wrist or your ankle, along with the bed and bone. Are you going into the kitchen to make dinner? Yay, I'm hungry too! Bring your dog with you and - you guessed it, tether them.
The purpose of tethering your dog is to physically control them and prevent them from roaming around the house and getting into things they shouldn't. Instead of always chasing after your dog and or finding damaged goods after the fact, you stop them before it all starts. If you need a break from supervising them, this is where a kennel comes into play. If you can't watch your dog, put them away. They are like toddlers who need constant supervision, but better because you can put them in a kennel or ex-pen.
Allow me to further put things in perspective for you. If your dog is on a leash, under your supervision, or in a kennel when you can't supervise them, how can they possibly:
Pee in the other room?
Poop in the other room?
Chew your shoes?
Chew on furniture?
Bother another dog?
Eat your food on the table?
Eat food on the counter?
Go through the garbage?
Dig a hole in the yard?
Jump all over the furniture?
Jump on guests?
Hide from you?
Run outside without you?
Run around the house?
Fill in the ______?
Are you beginning to understand? The leash gives you control. It prevents a lot of unwanted behaviors, and it limits their freedom which they clearly do not deserve if they're peeing in your house or chewing your stuff. You may be thinking "well how do I stop my dog from jumping on my guests or jumping on the couch?" Without getting into corrections and specific collars, it's still very easy. Step on the leash. The next time you have a guest come over before you answer the door, put your dog in a sit and step on the leash, right where it meets the floor. Then, open your door and do a "BWAHAHAHA" laugh at your dog as they try to understand physics. Do the same thing before you sit on the couch. Do the same thing in the kitchen, if not tethered.
Keep in mind, this is not formal dog training so much as it is just controlling your dog and creating rules and boundaries by limiting space and freedom. But because dogs truly are creatures of habit, this is a very effective way of preventing unwanted behaviors, and through the inability of practicing these unwanted behaviors, they become extinct or never even start to begin with (puppies).
I know what you're now thinking. "Well, how long do I have to keep my dog on this damn leash?" The answer to that is relative. It depends on; how consistent you are, your dog, and how long they've been able to practice the unwanted behaviors. But I can give you a better answer. You can stop using the leash when you can trust your dog, when they stop trying to run out the front door, when they stick with you and stop attempting to wander around the house looking for your best pair of shoes to rip apart or a new spot to pee on. Don't rush this. Take your emotion (feeling bad or guilty for restricting your dog) out of the equation and focus on the bigger picture - a well mannered dog that you can trust.
The leash is a powerful tool, but only if you use it in conjunction with supervision.
I hope this article helps! If it has or you know someone who may benefit from reading it, PLEASE SHARE!