My sister, Teri, was chatting me up on the phone the other day about her miniature Poodle and what a little stinker he is. He likes to run! And run, and run, and run some more! He always returns, but on his time more often than not. I explained that this behavior will get worse as he grows if it is allowed to continue. As we talked, though, I was faced with one of those “Oh my gosh” moments. There are times I do not realize that what may make sense to me may not be all that clear to another. This realization hit me when she candidly asked, “So, I’ve been meaning to ask you. What is a drag leash?”
Thank God she is so dear, because without thinking I just said, “A leash the dog drags.” I repressed myself from adding, “duh”, but I did chuckle. Yes, I can be an ass at times and Teri did call me on it 🙂
Seriously, What is a Drag Leash?
To break it down, let me start by saying that a dog loose in the house is an earned privilege. The dog must earn this privilege by choosing good behavior consistently. To help a new adult dog or puppy learn to make good decisions, a leash is on him at all times when he is not in his crate or ex-pen (exercise pen, aka playpen). By keeping a leash on your dog at all times he gets the point loud and clear that you control every aspect of his life. You are his pack leader on whom he must depend.
Using a drag leash also allows you to control your dog without needing to offer too many corrections. A dog will usually naturally follow along to whatever (or whoever) he is tethered. This helps your dog learn rather quickly that you may be stern, but fair. It helps you both relax as you go about your day.
Drag leashes, ideally, ought to be about 2-3 feet long and have no handle. That loop at the end can get caught on his leg or other item. So it is best to find one with no handle, or make one by cutting off the loop. It’s not necessary to buy some expensive piece of leather because this leash will get dirty and marred. I use a nylon leash so I can toss it in the laundry when needed.
You can find a rather inexpensive leash to use as a drag leash at any pet shop.
Not a Training Replacement
Using a drag leash is not a replacement for good, fair and consistent training. Rather, a drag leash is a crucial tool that will assist you in proper training. This tool not only helps control your dog around the house, but also will assist in creating a bond between you.
When we first brought Hanani home she was terrified of everything. She had the drag leash on constantly. The first few weeks I held on to the leash to encourage her to follow me around. As I sat at my desk to work she laid underneath. If I got up to refill my coffee mug, she followed me. When evening rolled in, she laid at my feet by the couch while I watched my favorite shows. This let her know that I was in control, but also reassured her that I am here to protect and comfort her. She is part of our pack.
Some trainers suggest taking the drag leash a step further, at least at first, and actually tethering the dog to your person. You can loop the leash around your waist or through a belt loop on your jeans. If you do use this approach just make sure the leash is a bit longer so it does not create accidents, such as stepping on your pup.
Whichever method you choose, just remember drag leashes and tethering are tools to be used within a proper training regime. Your goal is to create a respectful relationship where your pup clearly knows you are pack leader and will trust and rely on you for everything.
Either approach can, and should, be used even outside. Whether you are blessed with a fenced in yard or not, using a drag leash is a necessary step outside as well. Remember, roaming or running free is an earned privilege–not a right. Using a drag leash helps build the relationship just the same as indoors for new pups and dogs. This will also assist you to train out bad behavior, such as running away, no matter how old your dog is.
If your dog is leashed and, within proper, consistent training, learns that you are in control, two great things happen: You are more easily able to keep him from harm, and he learns to depend on you enough to never want to leave your side. So, if you have a runner, leash him at all times–indoors and out–and lay that necessary groundwork for pack leadership he desperately needs.
Soon he can run to his heart’s desire, but make him earn it! When your dog consistently returns upon calling him, he may be ready to lose the leash.
The first time you have to run and catch him, that leash needs to go right back on.
This method also frees you from giving a correction when you catch him, which can lead to a dog that decides it’s more fun to run than to listen and return to you. Just snapping on that leash when you catch him and say, “Stay with me!”, is message enough for him to learn that running free is an earned privilege. So, if he wants to run, he must return when called.
Thanx so much Teri, for bringing my attention to one of my biggest short-comings! Any time you or anyone else has a question please holler at me! You can do this through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or commenting below the article you have questions about. If you would like, send a photo of your pup along with your questions and I will post it with the response like I did for this article. Teri’s pup, Elihu is featured at the top 🙂