Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Dog Training: Cut Your Dog Some Slack


Puppy on Tight LeashWorking with a fantastic puppy person this week and her happy pup, we head to a pet super store for some socialization and real-world dog training practice.

In the toy aisle, she has her Labrador sit. He sits. She keeps the leash tight.

Ease up just a little,” I suggest.

She tries, her hand does move a bit, but the leash stays tight.

Faced with this sort of moment, I point out the obvious.

Hard to give him slack?” I ask.

It is,” she comments with a slight tone of surprise. “It’s… scary.”

And that is common. People feel like they might lose control of their pup if they relax the leash or it scares them not to be able to actually feel the pup.

I can promise you,” I assure her, “That he isn’t  going anywhere without his head. He won’t get away. Try easing up just a little.”

She does and the pup stands up.

I get a look from my client.

That’s okay, that’s what happens. He’s already learned that a tight leash means control and slack means school’s out. Since our goal is for him to respond as well off leash as on, we need to turn that around. So, ask him again – Simple Sit him this time.

She does. He sits. She gives him a little slack. He gets up. But, after three repeats he stays seated by her side.

She grins.

Well done! You’ve got it!” I applaud her (and him).

It’s a small matter that makes a big difference. When your pup is sitting next to you, make sure the clip of the leash hangs down a bit. Cut him some slack. Not only will he learn to hang out without you having to hang on but it also means that when you do use the leash to communicate with him, even the gentlest touch can be felt and understood.

Now you know!

And, if you like my books. Here are four: My Smart PuppyChildproofing Your DogDogologyTails from the Barkside


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