If you spend any time with dog trainers or have attended a dog training class, you will hear them talk about terms like “prevention” and “management.” There are many ways to manage your dog’s access to your home so they can successfully build good habits and prevent bad ones, such as chewing, sitting on furniture, potty training and more. One of the many effective to manage your dog’s access is through an exercise called tethering.
How Is Tethering Used in Dog Training?
Tethering is an effective form of space management, and all you need is a sturdy leash and a heavy piece of furniture or a door. To tether, take the handle of the leash and loop it under the leg of your chosen piece of heavy furniture, making sure the piece you choose cannot fall on top of your dog, doesn’t have objects that can fall and won’t move if pulled hard. Once secure, you can attach the leash clip to your dog’s collar.
Your dog is now tethered and can only move as far as the leash allows. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind for all tethering scenarios:
- Never leave a tethered dog alone.
- Give them something of high value to keep them busy, such as a filled Kong, chew stick or favorite toy, to limit the level of frustration that can develop into barking, chewing or lunging to get free.
- If you have a dog who likes to chew through the leash, check out the VirChewLy Indestructible Leash.
- Think about putting a bed or mat down, unless they are bed chewers, so they build the habit of lying on the bed while life goes on around them.
5 Ways to Properly Use Tethering
Once your dog is safely tethered and occupied with a treat or toy, here are five ways to use this form of management:
The key for potty training is constant supervision. Tethering is a great way to have your puppy hang out with the family while limiting their freedom to walk around the house and risk eliminating somewhere they shouldn’t. Having different tethering stations around the house – one in the kitchen, the living room, the master bedroom, etc. – is useful because if you move from room to room, you can tether your dog to your body, and when you get to the next room, attach them to the tether station in there easily.
Tethering can also be used to keep your puppy out of mischief. If your puppy seems to chew on everything, tethering allows you to limit what the puppy has access to in your home and can encourage successful habits while you work, cook or the kids are doing homework.
Guests coming over equals the front door opening often and the potential for your dog to run out. Tethering is especially helpful in keeping your dog from practicing the very rewarding activity (to them, not you) of escaping and needing to be caught. By tethering your dog before the first guest arrives using the guidelines above, you can enjoy the fact that they are contained and rehearsing safe habits for when guests come over. Once everybody is in the house and your dog is calm, you can undo the tether and allow them to greet your visitors.
If you have a counter surfer or a dog that always seems to be underfoot when you are cooking, tethering helps limit those behaviors. Having a tether station in or near your kitchen will allow your dog to feel like they are a part of things and can’t cause too much trouble.
Begging and food stealing can be a cause of stress, ruin a family meal, or even be unsafe if your dog swipes a forbidden food from the table. Tethering allows you to limit your dog’s ability to practice these behaviors and builds good habits (they get to lie down and chew on something safe) while you enjoy your meal. Plus, you relax knowing that your delicious steak is safe when you get up to get something to drink.
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Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.