The tie-down is a great tool used in positive reinforcement dog training!
Here at Wags and Wiggles, we have a very specific dog training philosophy. It focuses on building up both dogs and their owners through positive reinforcement. But training at Wags isn’t all sunshine and cookies. Every day the trainers get questions on how to stop a dog from doing a dangerous, destructive, or just plain annoying behavior. Our answer is always two-fold:
- What would you like your dog to do instead?
- What are you doing to prevent this problem behavior from occurring in the first place?
The answer to the first question varies depending on the behavior in question, but the answer to the second question is often solved with management tools.
Tie-downs are one of the first things we like to introduce to our new puppy families. The tie-down has so many benefits and applications that most situations can be helped by implementing a tie-down into your dog training routine. It is beneficial for the new adult rescue dog, the family adding a new pet or baby to the home, and for the unruly puppy that hasn’t learned good house manners yet.
What is a Tie-Down?
A tie-down is a leash, rope, or cable that is 2-3 feet long and is attached to an immovable object (like a piece of furniture or an eye bolt that is placed in the wall). It is then attached to your dog’s buckle (or martingale) collar. A tie-down trains your dog to relax and keeps him out of mischief. It’s also extremely useful during dog training sessions.
A tie-down is a great management tool used in dog training for:
- Separation anxiety
- Bothering the family at dinner
- Barking at the door
- Jumping up on people or furniture
- Playing too rough
- Inappropriate chewing
- Meeting a cat
- Jumping up on your bed
- Giving an adult dog time away from the bouncy puppy
A tie-down should be placed in a fairly busy room in your house. It should ONLY be used when someone is home. A tie-down is not punishment; it is management. Your dog should be comfortable, have something good to chew on like a stuffed Kong, and something to play with while on tie-down. For safety reasons, please do not attach the tie-down to a Gentle Leader, Halti, choke, pinch, or any other restricting collar. Be careful that the dog can’t drag the piece of furniture around with him.
Keep in mind a tie-down is NOT a tie-out. A tie-out is a cable that is used to tie dogs in a yard so they don’t run away. They often make dogs aggressive because the dog can’t run away from any perceived threat, and we NEVER recommend them.
REMEMBER: ONLY use a tie-down when you are home and ONLY use it on your dog’s flat buckle or martingale collar!
Setting up your tie-down:
Put your dog on the tie-down several times a day for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. You can give him a stuffed Kong or other chew toy. Then begin to extend the time the dog is on the tie-down. Vary the time he is on it so he doesn’t know exactly how long he’ll be there and will learn to be patient.
If he barks while he’s tied, leave the room and return when he’s quiet for a moment and quietly praise him. Some dogs like to chew pretty much anything they can get their mouth around, including leather or nylon tie-downs. If your dog chews the tie-down, use a cable or chain.
Using the Tie-Down as a Management Tool:
Your dog has several decisions to make every day. For example: Should he choose to chase the cat? Nip at the kids? Bark? Jump on the person at the door? It may be difficult for you to monitor what he is doing and be able to get anything done yourself.
- General environment management: If you’re busy and you can’t keep an eye on the dog, put him on his tie-down. That way he can’t chew up the furniture while you’re not looking!
- Separation anxiety: Some dogs follow their owners from room to room. Although it’s nice to think he loves you, there is such a thing as too much attention (and often these dogs are awful when left alone). Setting up and consistently using a tie-down a couple of times a day allows your dog to learn that though you go away, you always return and that he can’t attach himself to you. If you need additional help, our Zen Dog program is a great option!
- Dog/cat introductions: If you have a cat that needs to be introduced to your dog, and you’re concerned they won’t get along, use a tie-down for the dog and give the cat the run of the room. When the dog sees the cat and remains calm, he gets a treat (the cat also gets a treat for looking at the dog). This allows your cat to feel safe.
- Empowering children: Small children can benefit from a rambunctious puppy being on tie-down. It allows them to interact with the puppy on their terms. If the puppy gets mouthy or plays too roughly, the child can simply walk away without being worried that the puppy will chase or jump on them.
- Begging prevention: A tie-down can allow you to eat your meal in peace. Give him his own toy or bone on his tie-down before you begin eating.
Using the Tie-Down During Dog Training:
- Jumping up: If your dog has a habit of jumping up on guests, prevent him from doing that by putting on his tie-down before the guests come in. After you’ve done your greeting and he’s calmed down, your guests can pet him or you can let him off the tie-down. If he jumps on you, you’ll need to tell him “Off” and calmly take him back to the tie-down. After a few minutes of peace and quiet, you can let him off the tie-down again. Put him back on it if he gets rough or starts jumping up.
- House training: A tie-down is a good tool for house training and can be used in conjunction with crate training. Having your dog on a tie-down is just like having him in a crate, but it gives him a different view and more variety. It also allows you to be more interactive with the opportunity to pet and praise when he’s good. Just be sure to take your dog outside frequently to relieve himself.
- Obedience training: Having your dog on a tie-down is extremely useful during dog training sessions. Tie-downs can be a handy tool when teaching your dog basic commands, such as “sit,” “down,” “go to your mat,” etc.
- Training calm behavior throughout the house: A tie-down can be portable or you can set up multiple tie-down stations. Use the tie-down when you are cooking dinner, checking email, watching TV, or getting ready for your day in your bathroom. Your dog is learning that calm behavior is expected and rewarded throughout the house.
The tie down is a versatile management tool that can save you from potty accidents, chewed shoes, harassed cats, and so much more. We hope this information leads you to a habit of setting your dog up for success. Remember to praise and reward your dog when he is calm and relaxed. It’s easy to notice the unwanted behavior, so be on the lookout for the good behavior! If you need additional advice, tips, or tricks during dog training, register for an obedience class and/or feel free to contact us!