Updated: Jun 22
Most of us as owners of companion dogs appreciate it when our dogs look to us for direction; with LGDs we appreciate the dog’s ability to think for himself. When I do leash work with Maremmas I still appreciate that behavior, so I do not ask my LGDs to heel, for instance. Rather, I partner with my dogs as we go on an on-leash adventure. I am fine with the dog preceding me and in fact often prefer it because I like the initiative shown by the dog even in a novel environment.
In general I view a leash as a safety line only. I use my body and training history with my dogs to ask them to come with me, even on leash.
I never, ever allow pups to become fearful of the restraint of a leash. To do this I use a front attachment harness with young pups. To watch this early training in action please see this blog: Follow Blush’s Litter (11) – On Leash– 10 wks 7/22/19.
Once the pups are very sure of themselves on leash I switch to the use of a collar simply because it’s easier to put on the dog than a harness is, but if the dog challenges me (as adolescent dogs often do) I go back to the use of a harness until we come past the rough spot.
So, if you as the new owner of one of my dogs, puts on a leash and collar and pull on the neck of a pup raised by me you are likely to scare him or at least confuse him. This isn’t a productive way to begin building your trust relationship with the pup. Please, please ask the pup to go with you using the language he knows. My pups are quick to please if they understand what is fairly being asked of them.
The video below shows the first directed walk on leash for this four month old pup, with a handler who has never worked with him on leash before. However, Kathy is an experienced handler here at the ranch and is part of our training team. In this video she consistently makes good training choices that set this pup up for success; this should be the goal of any training.
In this video I explain our leash work as it pertains to buyers of our four-five month old pups.