Your puppy is not your best friend. Nope. Not even close.
Dogs are often said to be a “person’s” best friend. I actually believe that is true for the most part. Except when your dog does something that is annoying or destructive. Then he is someone else’s dog (just a joke).
I am “struggling” to raise Ira our Kuvasz puppy who is now just over five months old. He is also almost 60 lbs. Yes, he is a handful. But I can say that his behaviour is improving because of consistent work by me (and Ernie) and our friend The Leash.
I have graduated Ira to a homemade leash line made from a brass clip and yellow poly rope from the hardware store. As he got older he was mouthing the old flat regular leash with more and more adult teeth and starting to do some damage.
So as a frugal human, I changed to the yellow rope so that the leash did not get destroyed. (actually I would have just sewn it together on my sewing machine rather than toss it)
For the most part poly rope is uncomfortable for to dogs to chew on. I have seen a couple of dogs in my dog services career who chewed through these ropes but most don’t because it grates on the teeth.
This is so far the case with Ira. He tugs on the rope and lightly chews it but not hard enough to cut through it.
The texture is a deterrent.
It is crucial that a puppy be on a leash more often than not. I have always suggested that people keep their dogs on a long line for one year – especially when training the recall. Even then, any time off leash is a calculated risk.
When you start out with a poly rope for a leash make sure you tie at least three knots along the length. This is so that the leash will not slip out of your hands, which can be painful, but also so that you can drop the line on the floor or ground and use your feet to stop the puppy for an emergency.
If you are going to use your feet to handle (or should I say “footle” here) the puppy, don’t do it where he is running fast as you could injure his neck by a quick stop. This is just for close up work like if you are cooking and you want to use both your hands but have the puppy in the same room as you.
You could tie the line to your waist, but I have found that often this also gets in the way and it is better to just drop the line on the floor. It will depend on the age of your puppy. A very young puppy should not be given much freedom at all since they can get into things very quickly and do damage or get injured (more importantly).
The other good thing about these lines is that if they get dirty, which they will, it doesn’t matter.
Make three or four of these lines in different lengths, one the length of a regular leash, and then two or three shorter ones, the shortest not quite touching the ground when attached to the collar.
Make sure you don’t put a loop in the shorter ones since your dog could get his foot caught in it. Just leave it straight at the end with maybe a knot tied NEAR the end of the line.
If you make these for yourself make sure you use a match or lighter to burn the ends of the rope so they don’t fray. Don’t inhale the smoke and make sure you are old enough to be using a lighter (😎).
Also learn about how to make knots properly so the one you use to attach the clip doesn’t come off and releases your puppy. We used the Bowline knot to attach the clip and a double square knot for the leash handle. The Bowline knot can sometimes be difficult to learn so make sure you find good instructions and practice!
As your puppy starts understanding what to do you will not need a line as often. However, having a short line dangling near the puppy’s neck, gives him the impression that he is still on lead.
Even better if, on certain occasions, you need to stop him from doing a behaviour or prevent something, you still have a line to grab.
Grabbing a puppy’s collar too often to prevent something has the consequence of creating a dog who hates to have his collar grabbed or will duck out of your way when you try.
One last piece of advice. Never leave your puppy or dog alone without being supervised when wearing a line or even a collar. Weird and very bad things can happen to dogs when they have things attached to them. If you crate your dog when you go to work TAKE OFF HIS COLLAR.
So, minimize this and other problems by using a line on your puppy for the first year of training.
Happy Puppy Training (and adult dog training!)