When you’ve been in the pet sitting business for three decades, you hear it all from pet owners. One of the most common topics I hear relates to collars, leashes and getting your dog to be a better leash walker.
To answer that question on today’s blog post, I turned to pro trainer, Jemi Hodge of k9Consultants.com.
I asked for her best advice on collars and leashes and a few tips on how to get your dog to be a better leash walker.
Jemi’s Best Advice On Collars and Leads
1. If your dog is not used to a collar or leash, be sure to spend time EACH day collar and leash training.
When you place any collar on your dog the first few times, make it a pleasurable experience. Love him, pet him and tell him what a good dog he is. Jemi compares dogs learning to walk on leash to humans learning how to wear glasses. It can be a little strange at first, but as soon as we get used to it, we are happy to oblige.
2. The typical “flat” collar is great to attach tags to and most of us use the flat collar with our dogs. But be aware that this type of collar can pose danger to your dog if the collar becomes tangled while playing with another dog, or caught on a crate when you aren’t home.
Another downside to the flat style collars — According to a study in the Journal of American Animal Hospital Association in 2006, pressure generated when dogs pull while wearing these collars raises the pressure in the eye. Not good.
As for choke, chain, ecollars and shock collars. PAIN. Need we say more?
Do not leave your dog in his crate with his collar on. Dogs strangle themselves in their crate with their collar every year. There is a breakaway collar which snaps open if it is pulled hard enough. Take the collar off, put it outside the crate, and when they come out, slip it on him.
Jemi’s Advice About Harnesses and Leashes:
Harnesses are great tools. Unless you are training your dog to PULL while leash walking (not something clients ever request), use a harness with a front attachment, NOT one on the dog’s back.
Always keep one eye on your dog whenever they’re harnessed. Given motivation and opportunity, they can back right out of a harness and that can result in a bad outcome.
What Jemi Recommends for Harnesses and Leashes
With so many choices, Jemi recommends The Gentle Leader. To learn more about why The Gentle Leader gets her vote, visit Jemi’s dog training website to read the article “Why We Love Gentle Leaders.”
As for the leash, Jemi prefers that you use a good sturdy leash. The 4′ double ply is ideal. Yes, skinny leashes are lovely to look at, but they make poor training tools.
Unless you are walking where your dog can have freedom without risk, NEVER use a retractable leash. We have all heard the stories of broken-hearted owners who learned the hard way what happens when the retractable leash snaps and their dog is hurt or killed. It’s never worth the risk.
Jemi’s Tips to Get Your Dog to Be a Better Leash Walker
Start leash walking your dog slowly. Take him outside, encourage him to take a few step with the collar and leash, praise him, and go back in having accomplished a few steps.
Never pull your dog or force him to walk. You want no negative associations with you or the leash. This is one circumstance where a special treat or squeaky toy can come in handy.
Position dog on your left side. Hold leash by hooking your right thumb through the loop, left hand palm down facing the ground. Relax your arms, keep leash loose. Say your dog’s name first to get his attention. If you say it last, he’ll stop to see what you wanted.
Now, say “Let’s go” and begin walking.
If dog is not paying attention, change your direction, drop your left hand and pull quickly with right hand as you turn.
Remember: Saying “Let’s go” means movement. Use a happy, excited voice.
Other tips when you’re walking the dog:
When stopping to greet people, as you stop tell your dog to “SIT.” When the dog complies, praise immediately. If he doesn’t sit on command, place him in a seated position.
If your dog’s paws leave the ground, use the “OFF” command, and place him in a SIT position again.
If your dog’s rear leaves the ground, place him in a seated position.
Remember to praise softly if your dog remains in position to let him know he is doing a good thing.
A good rule of thumb is to expect your dog to behave like a lady or gentleman.
Dogs can’t talk. They cannot learn your address. Please make sure your dog wears identification on his collar. Even if the dog is microchipped, an id tag is a good idea. (Read the Pet Pleasers’ blog post on ID tags.)
For more information about Jemi Hodge’s dog training:
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.