How to put a Halti (training lead) on a dog.
Smack bang in the middle of dog-ownership territory is having to take your dog on walks. Or to the vet. Or really anywhere where his behaviour may need to be ‘reined’ in, if the necessity arises. And while some dogs are exceptionally trained and obedient, and respond with alacrity to every verbal command, your average house dog has an attention span far shorter- pretty much in the range of one squirrel away.
Which is why the most obvious and standard practice is to have dogs on training leads, whenever you take them out in public for a walk. It helps you have a literal handle on any situations that may develop, guide your dog with you along your way, and decide and control the pace of the stroll, instead of haring off in every which direction, wherever your dog takes off.
But getting a dog to accept a training lead is where the battle truly begins – it isn’t like a normal dog lead like a retractable dog lead for example. Not all dogs are automatically accepting of Halti type leads on their collar. Don’t be surprised if the first few times (or first few dozen times, depending on how naughty your pooch is), your dog simply flops down belly up at the first tug at the Halti. The trick is to psyche them, into begging you to put it on.
Dogs who aren’t used to training leads yet start with a small learning curve. Initially, introduce your dog to it by letting them sniff it, examine it, and recognize it as a harmless object.
Next, you can leave the Halti attached to their collar, and let them roam around inside the house with it trailing behind them. This will allow them to accept it as an otherwise unremarkable attachment to their collar. But don’t be surprised if you have to rescue it a couple of times, when it’s in danger of being chewed through in boredom.
During this time, it’s also a good idea to play with the dog a little, and do little mock-walks from room to room, so that your dog understands the purpose of the lead. Some dogs pick it up right away, and some others require a couple of days. The important thing is that your dog be comfortable with it.
Another tip is to give your dog plenty of pats and treats when he’s wearing the lead. This helps establish positive association with having the lead on. Also, after the ‘introduction’ part is done, you can then teach your dog a specific command word to come and have the lead clicked on. Whether it’s as simple as his name and “come”, or “walk time!”, the specific word association with having the Halti put on his collar will help train him much faster to it. It’s always a good idea to give him a small treat every time he does this. This will program him to look forward to the leads as well as naturally to the walks that follow. Just make sure you use small treats. No point in contributing to making your good boy a chonker!
It may seem like an unnecessary step but this part of training has surprising advantages. For example, you won’t always be putting a lead on your dog at home, when he’s already relaxed and at ease. Suppose you’re at the park, or at the groomer’s, and you have to leash your dog again, it won’t do to have to chase him around in circles for it. A simple verbal command that he’s trained to, in contrast, is a very effective solution to all this.
Once your dog has become accustomed to walking with you on a Halti inside your house, take him a step further and walk in the yard or right outside the house, to let him understand that the dynamic does not change with place. Sure, he might give you some funny looks in the beginning (what’s the biped up to now, hmm?), but once your dog seems at ease with following your command on lead in that short space, he’ll be ready to graduate to a full blown walk!
A lot of this is naturally easier said than done. Some dogs go absolutely bonkers when clipped, and go through mind-boggling gymnastic sequences to get it off. Others simply flop down and do their best cat imitation. A little persistence will help you get both onto the same page.
And then you also have the jackrabbit types, whose owner is running being dragged behind them in whatever general direction the dog wants. This is precisely what you want never to do. Your dog should be able to walk with you with a lax leash, not even strained taut. To achieve this, you have to plant yourself like a tree and force your dog to get over his canine toddler tantrum. Once he’s burnt it out of his system, he’ll be more compliant. Mind you, if your dog is persistently aggressive or hyperactive, there’s a fair chance you aren’t tiring him out enough. In these cases, you’ll have to keep active till he’s burnt his excess energy off and is ready to go home (as are you!)
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