CLOSE TETHER TRAINING
- Close to You -
Close tether training is an alternative method of contented confinement for puppies or adult dogs. The basic description is a short lead or rope tied from the dog's collar to either the person (e.g., ankle (while sitting), belt loop, etc.) or a solid object near a person. This is called "close tethering" because it means the person is always close by. This is very different from tying a dog up all day because no fence is present. Tying a dog up all day without close supervision often creates phobias, aggression, and personality problems in dogs and is not recommended.
Close Tether Training and Elimination Training
The first reason to teach close tethering is for housetraining purposes. By confining the dog to a small area using a tether, it inhibits the dog from urinating or defecating in his or her immediate area and therefore gives the dog a reason to hold it. During housetraining, take the dog out every few hours to see if he or she eliminates. If the dog does, reward him or her with a copious amount of praise and some playtime for as long as you can supervise the dog. Then tether him or her again.
Implementing Close Tether Training
When introducing the close tethering concept, give the dog something soft and comfortable to lie on and a chew toy while he or she is tethered close to you. Begin by praising the dog when resting quietly. If the dog has recently eliminated, but whines, paws, or begins other attention-seeking behavior, tell the dog, "Quiet!" in a command tone. If he or she stops the attention-seeking, immediately begin praising the dog and saying the soothing words, "Good girl (boy)."
When first teaching close tethering, most dogs will go through at least one "temper tantrum." The dog may attempt to get attention in a variety of ways including pawing, whining, barking, rolling, and a variety of other annoying behaviors. Whenever a dog initially begins what we will call "fussing," the first option is to take the dog outside to the toilet area to determine if he or she needs to eliminate. Second, offer some water or, if it is feeding time, some dry food (not treats) to determine if that is what is needed.
Once the basic needs have been satisfied then it is simply a matter of teaching the dog to lie quietly in one spot while you go about your other business. As long as the dog is lying quietly, praise and reward this quiet behavior every 30 seconds or so. As the dog adjusts to the close tethering, gradually taper the frequency of praising and rewarding quiet behavior to every few minutes, and then just intermittently. If the dog begins fussing or puts on a temper tantrum, the solution is to simply turn away so that the dog cannot reach you or see your eyes. If the fussing is repeated and expanded, continue to ignore the dog until he or she is through the entire repertoire and finally settles down. Listen carefully to the dog, then when the fussing stops, turn and give praise and reward the dog with attention. If he or she begins fussing again, turn away. The secret to teaching close tethering is to move your body towards the dog as a reward or away from the dog as a correction. No physical punishment and/or scolding should be used during close tether training.
The Freedom of Close Tethering
Once the dog is close tether trained, it means he or she will lie quietly when tethered to any person or solid object without fussing. This is similar to the horse who is taught to rest outside of the cowboy's saloon. Close tethering actually gives more freedom because now you can take the dog with you any time you like. You can always tether the dog close to you and have him or her be completely relaxed and at ease.