The Training Tether

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A training tether is a temporary management tool that can be used to prevent behavior problems or assist in resolving an existing problem. The idea is to tether your dog in the places where your family spends time, such as the kitchen, the TV room, or the bedroom, so he can be with you but doesn’t have to be the center of attention, and he can’t wander off and get into trouble. The training tether should only be used when you are close by; never leave a dog tethered when you are not at home.

Getting Started

A tether should be 2 to 3 feet long and preferably made of plastic coated wire cable with a snap at both ends. The plastic coating protects furniture and the wire prevents the dog from chewing through it. A leash or rope may be used but should be soaked in a taste aversive (see our handout “Aversives for Dogs”) to prevent the dog from chewing it.

Attach the tether to a heavy piece of furniture or to an eyebolt screwed securely into the wall. Attach the other end to your dog’s buckle collar. Choke chains, prong collars or head halters should never be used with the tethering technique.

Make the tether short enough that the dog won’t get tangled in it, and make the tethering spot a happy place – put a rug or mat there and a chew toy. Don’t use a ball that can roll out of range.

Getting Your Dog Accustomed to the Training Tether

Start by putting your dog on the tether a few times a day for five to ten minutes. Give him a reward as soon as he gets to the tethering place, then give him a special treat – like a food stuffed Kong (see our handout “Dog Toys and How to Use Them), while you settle down nearby to watch TV, read, etc.

Slowly extend the length of time the dog is on the tether, but also vary the time, mixing short sessions with longer ones.

If the dog barks or whines while on the tether, leave the room until he is quiet. Then return and reward his quiet behavior. The idea is to ignore unacceptable behavior and reward calm behavior with quiet praise and/or a small, soft treat.

Using the Training Tether for Behavior Problems and Problem Prevention

Rules for Using the Training Tether