A leash is such a powerful tool. Not only is it the best and safest way to walk your dog, it can be used to house train your dog, stop him from jumping up on people he meets, keep him safe from dangers you may encounter while out and about, prevents him from running on other people’s property and, in some places it’s the law.
While keeping a dog on a leash during the day is a great way to prevent accidents in the house and help minimize destructive chewing, you should never leave it on your dog overnight. The leash can get tangled and create a choking hazard or cause some other kind of harm. Your dog should only wear a leash when supervised.
Is it okay to keep your dog on a leash in the house?
It is perfectly okay, in fact it’s a great way to train your puppy or newly adopted adult dog.
NOTE: Only keep the leash on when you’re able to supervise your dog. When he’s out of your sight even if he’s just in his crate or pen, you must take it off for safety.
Tethering your dog to yourself
The “official” term for that is called “umbilical training.”
Your dog is not only on a leash, but he is tethered to you. You can do that by:
♦ Putting a carabiner on the handle and clipping it to your belt loop
♦ Slip the handle through your belt loop then take the other end with the clip, put it through the handle and secure it that way
♦ Wearing the leash around your waist (although that will probably significantly shorten it)
♦ Loop it through a fanny pack
What are the benefits of the umbilical cord training method?
♦ Help you form a bond with your dog
♦ Having him with you all the time means you have so many opportunities to reward good behaviour
♦ It will help keep your puppy (and kids) safe: he can’t wander off and chew on a power cable, nip at your kids, choke on something he shouldn’t be eating, or run out the door when someone comes in
♦ Will make house training so much easier
♦ If your dog is loose in the house, it’s impossible to watch him constantly so there’s no way of knowing if he went into another room or corner somewhere to pee or poop. The more accidents he has in the house, the more the behaviour becomes ingrained.
NOTE: You should be taking your puppy out once an hour to eliminate. Having him so close to you means you’ll notice when he starts displaying signs that he needs to go out again – can’t settle, sniffing the ground, circling. You can then take him outside quickly and avoid an accident.
Equipment you’ll need to get you started
♦ A standard nylon 6’ leash is perfect. It’s long enough so your dog has some room to roam, but can’t get too far away that you can’t see him.
♦ A crate, pen or baby gate so your puppy can be confined when he’s not tethered to you
♦ Treats so you can reward your dog when he pees/poops outside. You’re going to go through a lot of treats as you train your puppy, no matter what you’re teaching him to do so be mindful of the quality of those treats.
Types of treats you can use:
- Regular store bought training treats (some are like human junk food so be careful about weight gain if feeding too many)
- Single ingredient
- Freeze dried
- Make your own (so many easy to make recipes on Pinterest)
- Boiled chicken breast
- Raw apple
- Raw carrot
These are just a few things you can try, and you only need small pieces.
Here’s how the training works
♦ Your puppy needs to already be used to wearing a collar and leash.
♦ Attach the leash to yourself or whichever family member will be participating in the training at that time. I mentioned 3 ways to attach the leash above.
♦ Go about your business as normal, the only difference is your dog will be with you.
♦ Take him out once an hour for about 5-10 minutes. Don’t talk to him or start to play, this is simply pee/poop time. If nothing happens bring him back in.
♦ Dogs will usually indicate they have to go by whining, going in circles, sniffing the floor, becoming restless. If you see any of these signs take your dog out right away. Always remember to praise him when he goes outside.
♦ If your puppy starts to pee/poop, say “no” and immediately pick him up and take him outside. The reasons this can happen is because he isn’t being taken out every hour, or the signs he had to go were missed.
Does your dog have to be tethered to you every waking moment?
Your training has been going well, you don’t want to undermine it by allowing him to roam where you can’t see him. Having said that, he does need off leash time, and you need a break as well.
Once he’s peed and pooped and you know he’ll be fine for a while, give him supervised off leash time. Take the leash and allow him to wander for a few minutes, but always where you can see him.
When you need a break or have to go out, a crate or pen will come in handy.
Over time you will be able to trust him off leash for longer and longer periods, until you will no longer need to do this type of training.
NOTE: If your dog starts having accidents when you’ve allowed him more freedom, that likely means he’s off leash for longer than he can handle. Reduce the amount of time and increase it more slowly from now on.
What circumstances are best for umbilical cord training?
- Anyone that spends a majority of their time at home
- If you don’t want to crate train your dog
- May be the answer for anyone struggling with other house training methods
- Even if you’re out of the house working, you can use this method when you’re home, in conjunction with crate training for example
Are there any negatives to umbilical cord training?
Some people can find it annoying being tethered to their dog for hours every day.
If you keep your dog with you all the time, you could run the risk of him developing separation anxiety and you don’t want that to happen
Final thoughts on umbilical training/keeping your dog tethered to you
♦ Puppies have no idea where they are supposed to relieve themselves, they rely on us to teach them. Umbilical cord training is a very effective way to do that.
♦ It’s a great way to keep an eye on a recently adopted adult or older dog. It could be they need house training or spent so long in the shelter they need a refresher course.
♦ Gives you a great bonding opportunity, and a chance to increase communication between the two of you which is helpful for all kinds of training.
♦ Your puppy needs some freedom from the leash, so some free time will be his reward for doing such a great job. Play some games with him and let him have fun!
♦ While it may be tempting to let your dog off the leash while you quickly run and do something, you know that will be the time he will relieve himself on your floor. Every time that happens it sets your house training back, and all your great work will take even longer. Put him in his crate or pen instead. NOTE: The crate is not a baby sitter, or a place your dog should be left for hours at a time so you don’t have to keep an eye on him.
♦ Always take his leash on during supervised freedom. It can easily get caught on something, and if your back is turned he could choke.
♦ If you tether him to something to give yourself a break, please be absolutely sure whatever that thing is cannot topple over, or in any way hurt your dog if he happens to pull on the leash. It’s best not to do this if you won’t be there to supervise.
♦ If your dog doesn’t have a lot of experience being on a leash and starts jumping around, wait until he settles down, lure him over to you with a treat, ask him to sit and reward him. You will likely have to repeat this several times until he gets used to it.
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