The most “liked” column I have written for Dogster was about why it is critical to observe leash laws. Nearly 20,000 of you clicked that button. The article struck a nerve because owners who flout these laws exist from coast to coast. Some of them angrily responded to my article, insisting they had every right to have an off-leash dog who runs amuck and molests (“he just wants to say hi!”) other dogs and humans. Many more of you wrote to tell me about the severe physical and psychological damage your dog has suffered because of a run-in with an off-leash dog.
Speaking of reward, positive reinforcement refers to operant conditioning, and I won’t bore you with the details right now, but suffice it to say B.F. Skinner, one of the leading researchers on reinforcement, found that positive reinforcement (to reward good behavior) is far more superior to punishment in altering undesirable behavior because positive reinforcement results in lasting behavioral modification, and punishment changes behavior only temporarily; and presents many detrimental side effects. If the problem behavior changes temporarily, it will reappear later, and it comes with even more problem behavior! Good Behavior = Reward and Bad Behavior = Punishment, does that sound familiar? Positive reinforcement training is what exotic animal trainers have used for years to teach dolphins, whales and large cats among other animals. You cannot force a dolphin to do what it does not want to do!
Cat leashes are used with the purpose of preventing the cat getting lost. Unlike dogs, cats rarely attack persons on the street, so cat leashes are mainly a safety measure to protect the pet itself. Very often the collars are replaced with harnesses, because they avoid the dangers of collars which include escaping and running away or choking. Cats are more likely to not be willing to be walked in a harness than dogs are, and are considered to need up to months to be able to adjust to wearing a harness.
Cat leashes come in a variety of colors, designs and models and are made of different materials. There are cat leashes made of leather, nylon and rope. Whereas the leather leash is one of the best qualities because of the characteristics of the material, it is also one of the most expensive and not very comfortable for the cat at the same time. Nylon cat leashes and harnesses are, however, more elastic, and thus more comfortable and also provide more control.
Leash walking outside may be more frustrating because there are numerous distractions for you to compete with for your puppy’s attention. Understand, from his point of view, how much more difficult this task has now become, and whatever you do, don’t lose your patience; don’t drag him or allow him to drag you! Walk slowly and click and treat if he stays at your side. If he begins to pull, stop or change your direction, then click and treat when he reaches your side again!
I recommend that you begin teaching your dog how to sit and stay prior to beginning any leash training! Having a reliable sit and stay will enable you to ask for this command if your pup starts pulling on the leash. This will help you refocus his attention and help him get back to your side! It is also safer to have a dog that has a reliable sit and stay, so that you are not pulled out into traffic while walking together! Leash training, like all dog training, requires immense amounts of patience on both your parts! But, the payoff will be a well-trained dog that all of your friends envy, and builds a relationship of love and trust! So, grab your clicker and a pocket full of treats and get out there! Have some fun together while learning valuable skills! When your dog has mastered leash walking check out loose leash training!
If your dog is an extreme puller, you will want to opt for a leash designed specifically for control and guidance. The Leashboss has a handle built-in that curbs tugging and pulling, and gives the walker more control and strength over a headstrong dog. The leash comes in four different colors and is five feet in length, with a sturdy handle at 18". The company also provides a five-year “no hassle” warranty against wear and tear, or if it simply doesn’t work for your dog. Though this leash can work for any size pup, it works best for dogs over 40 lbs.
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