“Okay, the first thing you need to do is keep your dog on a leash…”
“With your dog on a leash you can keep the dog supervised…”
“With your dog leashed at all times you can better teach obedience and other wanted behaviors…”
“Keep your dog on a leash and you can use the leash to correct behavior problems when they occur…”
These types of statements are things that I find myself saying on almost a daily basis when I’m working with my clients.
My clients come to me with house training problems, aggression issues, behavior problems, destruction, manners, and more and the first thing that I teach them is to keep the dog on a leash.
I found myself saying it so much that I wanted to examine why.
The simple reason is that most people give their dogs too much freedom too quickly.
The dog isn’t house trained yet they allow the dog to roam the house not supervised. The dog doesn’t know what not to chew on yet the dog is allowed to go chew on whatever he wants. The dog doesn’t know the proper way to greet guests at the door yet is allowed the freedom to go jumping on new guests.
Everyone WANTS a dog that listens when off the leash, does what he or she is told, and can be trusted to follow voice commands. The problem is that most people attempt to start there. They start with a dog that is off leash yet has never even learned to be good on the leash. Life doesn’t work that way.
You don’t set the goal to be a doctor and tomorrow start dispensing medicine. You work your way to that point. You don’t desire to be a mechanic and tear apart your neighbor’s engine this weekend having never done anything mechanical. You don’t expect to hit a home run out of the park the first time you swing a bat.
And you don’t expect a dog to be obedient with great manners if you haven’t started in the right spot.
That spot for most folks is to keep a dog on the leash, yes, even in the house, for the first month, two, three or more depending on how fast you reach your goals. As your dog improves with obedience and manners you slowly move away from leash work and you end up at your target goal.
Don’t skip the hard stuff, though. You need it to get to the payoff.