Lucy the Leash Monster!: Leash Reactivity Case Study – Camelot Dog Training
In an ideal world, all our dogs would be freely roaming off-leash without any risk of disappearance, harm, unpleasant encounters with animal control, etc. But we have leash laws for a reason – because not every dog is well trained and under control off-leash. Heck, some dogs aren’t even trained and under control ON-leash!
I understand some people’s goals of being able to trust their dog off leash. This makes sense in a controlled area such as their backyard or a dog park. But many dogs don’t even excel at basic leash manners. If they cannot succeed while on the leash, then there’s a slim chance your dog will be able to behave and succeed off-leash.
Leash behavior is very important because this is how your dog is normally going to socialize and experience the world outside of your home. Whether it’s to the pet store, the vet, or to sit outside the dog-friendly restaurant while you dine on the patio, your dog has to accustom to the idea on being on the leash, and also learn to behave while on it! It could be while your walking in motion, or sitting down, the leash in your hand or attached to the park bench under you. Good leash behavior in ANY environment should be promoted and taught to your dog.
One of my most problematic case studies was a dog named Lucy who was just a terror on the leash. She destroyed SEVEN leashes, as she constantly tried to chew and eat them whenever they were attached to her collar. She also pulled terribly, never listened to her owner, and would be very reactive while on the leash, particularly to other dogs and children. When she lunged and scared a neighborhood toddler, that’s when Lucy’s owner called me for help.
Other than the leash behavior, Lucy was overall a good dog. She was docile and responsive when at home. But she did not like being controlled on the leash, and when distractions were in the picture, you can forger about her paying attention to you! We needed to make sure that Lucy understood that while she had good behavior inside the home, that behavior must also transcend to other environments and situations. We started from the basics and did tons of leash training with her, the first exercise being correcting her leash destruction and creating a positive association with the leash. From there, we worked on enhancing her focus on her owner while on the leash, and slowly reintroduced distractions so that Lucy was better prepared to deal and overcome them. Soon walks were not only more calm, but enjoyable for both Lucy and her owner (and also the neighborhood children!).
If you have plans to have your dog off-leash, it is still important to address their behavior while on leash. Your dog cannot become reliable off leash if they misbehave while on the leash. Starting from the beginning where we teach the dog to heel, walk well, and not act like maniacs when they see distractions is a great start to having a reliable dog off leash frolicking in the dog park or in your yard!
If your dog’s on-leash behavior is inexcusable or could use some sharpening, give us a call at 800-649-7297 and we’ll get started immediately!