Plans for Puppy: Tethering

Tethering is a fantastic training technique for puppies and newly adopted adolescent and adult dogs as well. You can use a hands-free leash or make...


Tethering is a fantastic training technique for puppies and newly adopted adolescent and adult dogs as well. You can use a hands-free leash or make one yourself at home.

Tethering is also known as “umbilical cord training,” and involves having the dog on a leash attached to your body when he is not crated.

Tethering has many benefits. It will increase my bond with my puppy and allow me the most important training tool of all – being able to constantly observe and reward all good behavior. It’s very important to me that I never miss an opportunity to tell a dog when he or she has made a good decision through reinforcing desirable behaviors.

Tethering also will allow me to prevent many potty accidents. Many dogs and puppies signal before they have to go potty, they may sniff, spin around in a circle, or scratch at the ground. If I can catch these indicator behaviors when they are offered, I can be proactive in puppy training – I can prevent accidents from happening through providing potty breaks when my puppy needs them and then reward the desired behavior of going potty outside.

Tethering also helps keep puppies safe.

Recently, a client came in to work and told me that he and his wife were watching television. Their young puppy frequently liked to nap under the couch. As they were watching television, they assumed their puppy was napping peacefully under the couch. This assumption proved to be untrue when they heard a popping sound and four shrieking yelps of pain from the young puppy. Unfortunately, she had been contentedly chewing away at the power cord under the couch. Luckily, she was not seriously hurt; but this story could very easily have ended tragically for this wonderful couple and their fantastic puppy.

Tethering will allow me to prevent my puppy from chewing on cords, shoes, furniture, Mokie, and my two cats. It will prevent him from establishing behaviors of chasing the cats while providing me with the opportunity to reward him for not chasing the cats. It will prevent him from jumping on guests, or bolting out the door if someone accidentally leaves it open.

When using umbilical training it is important that the tether is only there as a management tool, to provide for safety. It is not a training tool, or in any way intended to be used to deliver physical corrections to the dog or puppy. Tools do not teach a dog, training teaches a dog.

I don’t want to have to rely on a leash to control my dog, I want to rely on good and consistent training to teach my dog to control himself. The fact of the matter is, this dog will outweigh both me and my husband when he is full grown and it will be literally impossible (as well as being unnecessary and against my personal dog mom ethics) to try to control him through brutce force. Early positive training for good behaviors will relieve me of that burden when he is full grown.

I am very lucky in that I am able to spend much of my day home, generally writing blogs, articles, training plans, client reports, etc. I’ll be here with the puppy a lot. I’m looking forward to this experience, but also know that it is important that I practice separation with my new puppy so that he does not develop separation distress issues later in life. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow, when I discuss my next plan for puppy, crate training. For now, you may enjoy this article from Pat Miller, one of the best positive reinforcement trainers in the business, featuring a variety of uses for tethers. Tethered to Succes

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