What is “Tether” Training?

Sometimes dogs just don’t know how to settle and their over enthusiastic mouthing and jumping is just not acceptable. We are not fans of methods that restrict the dog’s movement and of tie-outs, however this method of training is interesting and useful when working with a professional certified trainer.

Before creating a strategy for changing behavior we feel it is essential to take a hard look at the basic need required by dogs in order to thrive in their homes before adding the Tethering Method to change behavior. When using this method it is best to consult with a professional trainer CPDT-KA certified by the independent Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers.

All dogs require daily exercise and this includes leash walking that involves training. We advise owners to put the cell phone away and focus on having their dog sit and stay before crossing streets, experiment with different speeds and incorporate interesting maneuvers like calling to COME, LOOK and the hand TOUCH. Before attempting the Tether Method it is essential that the dog have regular exercise prior to training.

But the Tether Method does have a place in changing unruly behavior including jumping on guests and having them learn to settle instead of climbing all over you when sitting on the couch. It is not meant as a harsh punishment but as a “time out” or an opportunity for your dog to re-focus on what he needs to do instead. We keep our tether short and NEVER leave the dog unattended. We also keep training sessions short and introduce the dog in a positive way acclimating and reducing stress.

Pat Miller a member of the Board of Directors for the APDT and a fellow CPDT-KA encourages owners to start by having the dog feel comfortable being tethered, “You want your dog’s time on the tether to be a pleasant experience. Before you actually use it the first time for training purposes, take the time to teach him that it is a good place to be, so he doesn’t panic when you try to use it. Start by attaching his collar to the tether and staying with him. Click! or say “Yes!” and feed him treats, several times. If he knows the “sit” cue, ask him to sit and Click! and treat him some more. Then take a step back, Click! and return to give him a treat. Gradually vary the distance and length of time between each set of clicks and treats, until he is calm and comfortable on the tether even if you are across the room. If he seems worried about being on the tether, keep your session brief and try to do several short sessions a day until he accepts the restraint. Release him from the tether when he is most calm, not when he is fretting. If the tether doesn’t worry him, one or two practice sessions should be all you need to start using it in training.”

This method can also be used for having your dog greet guests politely. As guests approach to pet if he jumps up they can turn away. If he remains with four feet on the floor in a SIT, DOWN or STAND then he can be rewarded with petting and praise. This method can also be used when on leash in public for greetings. Remember to not let your dog get too far ahead of you and get your dog’s attention prior to having him lunge toward guests. Play the SIT game and have friends ask him to SIT before they pet him. Follow with praise and treat low so that he does not follow and jump up.


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