Teaching your dog/puppy to understand the meaning of leash pressure is extremely important. Pressure from the leash, whether created by the handler or the dog, is going to be a factor in your dog’s life, in one way or another, so it’s important that they understand it’s correct meaning.
When properly understood, a dog will feel pressure from the leash and move toward it. Many dogs that have never been taught the correct meaning of leash pressure will offer other, unwanted behaviors, such as pulling against the pressure, vocalization, bucking, freezing, etc. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to leash pressure and dog training.
- All new puppies or dogs should get used to wearing a proper leash and collar, even in the home. By having the leash attached in the home, it allows the use of a leash in casual communication through your daily activities, such as walking from one room to another and taking your dog outside to go to the bathroom. These casual circumstances allow your dog to learn the meaning and generalize it.
- A retractable leash teaches a dog the opposite meaning of leash pressure. In most cases when a dog pulls on a retractable leash, the owner lets out more leash allowing the dog to continue to move ahead. Dogs walked on a retractable leash learn that pulling on the leash alleviates the pressure.
- Once your dog understands the meaning of leash pressure it can be used to help teach your dog new skills. Leash pressure can be applied to a recall in order to help your dog move toward you but be sure to release the pressure once your dog is moving in the desired direction. Properly placing your foot on your dogs leash close enough to his/her buckle can create steady but gentle pressure. The easiest way for a dog to relieve the pressure would be to move toward it; and to do so, your dog must lay down.
- Leash pressure needs to be phased out at some point. This is the case for recall and down. When your dog advances with recall, our goal should not be to have the dog turn around when the leash kicks in but rather they should be turning toward your direction BEFORE the leash pressure kicks in; this is the first sign that your dog may be ready to go onto the next phase of teaching recall. The same goes for down, at some point we have to ween your dog off of the help that leash pressure creates and have them down without the help.
- Poorly timed leash pressure can create behavior issues. Inadvertently we often teach our dogs to fire up on sight of another dog because we apply leash pressure at the wrong times. It’s not uncommon for dogs to feel the pressure created by the owner and take that as a cue to fire up.