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Dog Behavior Library

Indoor Close Tether Training

Teach your dog calm, acceptable indoor manners

A close tether is a 4-6 foot lead. The idea is to teach your dog to enjoy being confined for short periods of time. You are communicating to the dog, "When tethered, you are safe and pleasing me."

TIP: Do not begin close tether training until a puppy is leash trained after 10 - 12 weeks of age.

It is detrimental to the dog to be tethered alone for long periods of time. Close tethering means you are close by in the same room. Adapting your dog to a tether will actually increase his freedom. He will be able to go more places with you if you can "park" him in a close tether knowing he is content and will not create a problem.

You want the dog to understand close tethering is an opportunity to nap, relax or enjoy a favorite "chew" - and please you, too.

The short length of the leash helps prevent the dog from becoming tangled in the leash. The ideal tether is a short lead with a strong snap on each end. he snaps enable you to quickly attach the tether from the collar to any solid object. An alternative is to use the loop to thread the leash hook around a heavy object then back to your dog's collar. If your dog is a "chewer", consider a light-weight metal link chain lead or spray a taste deterrant on the lead.

Tether your dog when he can be close to you for an hour or so. Tether the dog to your chair while reading, watching TV, or working at your desk. Take him out to eliminate and give access to water before tethering. When he whimpers or fusses, ignore or take out to eliminate (e.g. during housetraining), but be robotic not attentive when he is outside to do his business.

If you are confident he does not need to eliminate, literally turn your back on fussing, then praise "quiet inactivity."

Reasons for close tethering:

  • Bonding: An excellent bonding exercise for the independent dog is to have the dog next to you every minute possible when you are home. If no other place is available, tie him to your belt or ankle which is called, "Umbilical Cording."

  • Fearfulness - Close tether training gives the fearful dog the security of knowing where he belongs, and how to act when taken to a new environment.

  • Housebreaking - Dogs do not like to eliminate in their immediate area. Take the dog out regularly, and praise appropriate elimination. If elimination does not occur, return to tethering, and praise quiet inactivity.

  • Calming – Tethering calms the hyperactive dog inside the car or house, especially when you have guests.

  • Separation Anxiety - Once calm, gradually leave dog tethered for an increasing number of minutes, while staying under the threshold where anxious signs begin. Then, gradually tether further away from you. Ignore the dog when leaving and returning. This is part of the "Independence Training" process.

A relaxed dog can be tethered with supervision for hours.

  • Destructive Tendencies - Close tethering prevents the dog from destroying possessions. Provide a "chew puzzle" while tethered as an alternative energy outlet. A chew puzzle is a chew toy with food inside. If separation anxiety is the cause, begin "Independence Training" described above.

  • Chew Training – While tethered near you, provide an approved chew toy, one at a time. Leave each toy until it becomes boring. Praise any interest. Kongs with a light layer of peanut butter often help get  the dog started. .

  • Status - If the dog acts aggressive, give him a "Time Out" tethered near you for 5-10 minutes. Tethering reduces hierarchical status.

  • Socialization - The tether can be used as part of a socialization program by allowing the dog to see and be a part of people's activities without being the center of attention.

A dog who can be tethered without fussing, possesses a skill that will be handy in many situations in life. Remember, his greatest joy is to be near you and please you.

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