Tips to Teach a Dog to Stay Calm When Being Leashed Up

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 4, 2021

For this Omaha dog training session helped 4 year-old Australian Shepherd Cooper stay calm when his guardians leash him up for walks.

This was one of the most unusual dog behavior sessions I’ve had. The guardians started saying that he was hearing the ghosts again shortly after I arrived for the session. They said this because Cooper stopped engaging or paying attention to us and instead turned his head to the side and looked up at the ceiling while getting agitated.

The guardians had done some research that had led them to the conclusion that the dog had developed tinnitus following a ear infection. This made working with Cooper extraordinarily difficult as when things kicked in, he was no longer interested in listening, paying attention or taking treats.

After I finish the session I reached out to a few colleagues for referral recommendations. If a dog is suffering for from a physical ailment, it’s very difficult to do any behavior modification because the pain or discomfort from the ailment is going to override and impact the behavior. Hopefully my amazingy talented and connected friend Rose, who runs the Canine Neuroscience department at UNO can track down the name of the medical personnel who treated the tiger at the zoo who had the same issue.

One thing that I was able to help the guardians with was the dog’s over excitement when getting ready for walks. Many people confuse an excited dog with one who is happy because they open their mouth a little bit wider when they are stimulated. As humans, we see this as a smile and then confuse the accompanying symptoms. This causes us to use excited voices or repeat things over and over getting the dog all worked up.

But just like humans, dogs are more prone to making mistakes when they are over excited. Teaching a dog to be calm when you put on his leash can have a profound impact on its behavior during walks. I pulled out my phone and handed it to one of the guardians so that I could share the secret to leashing up a dog calmly. If your dog gets excited when you pull out the leash, you should check out the free positive dog training video below.

The best time to practice this tip to keep a dog calm on the leash is when you’re not planning on going for a walk. If you only pull out the leash when you’re taking your dog on a walk, it’s going to get more and more excited due to classical conditioning. But if you practice leashing your dog up without going for a walk afterwards, you can help it disassociate the two activities.

It will take a little bit of practice, but Cooper responded very well to this calm leashing exercise. I’d like to see the guardians practice this exercise 4 to 6 times a day for a week or two to help Cooper learn where he supposed to sit and behave as the leash is attached. You dont have to be a professional Australian Shepherd dog trainer to teach a dog to be calm on the leash.

While staying calm on his leash will not solve Cooper’s dog reactivity issue, it will help make managing it easier. If the dog is already excited and then it sees another dog and reacts, the excitement is going to compound things.

Hopefully the guardians can locate a medical professional who can help the dog with his ear ringing problem. Once that is the case, we can work on his barking at sounds outside of his home or dog reactivity if the behavior continues. It’s possible that once the ringing in his ears stops, his barking at sounds outside of the house will stop as well. The dog reactivity was present before the ear infection so we will probably need to set up a few sessions to address that issue once the tinnitus has been addressed and cleared up.

To help the guardians remember all of the other dog behavior tips I shared in this in-home Omaha dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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