How Dog Leash Training Work

In this behavior modification training session, an overly-friendly, one year-old golden retriever is struggling with leash pulling, jumping up, and being reactive to other dogs. Professional dog trainer Tom Davis walks us through how to train a dog like this to walk nicely on a leash using safe, effective dog training methods.

Rather than trying to suppress the dog’s negative behavior (with pulling, dragging and choking a dog on a leash), Tom teaches the owners how to modify and teach the dog correct behavior.

Using a Prong Collar

In the video, Tom uses a prong collar as a teaching tool to help modify the behavior of jumping up, and then walking nicely on a leash. By using the command “off” or “come”, while simultaneously applying a quick pop of pressure, the dog immediately sits, or stops and changes direction. Unlike what some dog owners might expect, the dog does not squeal or cry out, he merely stops what he is doing and looks at Tom as if to say, “Oh hey there, what did you want?”

The key to using the collar is to do it quick and precise, just enough to get the dogs attention and disrupt what he is doing. Rather than punishment, think of the prong collar like a communication tool, used to snap the dog out of whatever he is doing and get his attention so that you can teach him whatever it is that you want him to do.

Eventually, Tom doesn’t even need to use the collar. The golden retriever makes the mental decision to follow the command – proof that he is learning the behavior.

Using Positive Reinforcement & Reward

In addition to using the collar, it’s important to reward good behavior with lots of positive reinforcement. As you can see in the video, phrases like “Good boy” and “Good come”, along with scratches behind the ears and kisses on the head, help to further teach the dog the desired behavior.

Food rewards work, too, but it’s important to use food sparingly, to make sure the dog is actually learning and not just responding to the food. The key is to periodically reward with food throughout a training session, but not every time. Sometimes the dog gets the food reward, sometimes he doesn’t. Otherwise, it becomes a bride instead of a reward.

Why These Dog Training Methods Work

Dogs want to learn, they want to make us happy, but sometimes they are too distracted. As was the case with the golden retriever in the video, dogs are capable of learning behavior if only we can just get them to focus.

For overly-friendly or hyperactive dogs, the prong collar is a helpful training tool because it immediately gets the dog’s attention, providing you with the ability to teach, and your dog with the opportunity to learn. Positive reinforcement and reward are, well, the icing on top. Eventually, once the behavior is learned, you won’t even need to use the collar.   

Want to see more behavior modification training videos with America’s Canine Educator Tom Davis? Subscribe to our YouTube Channel. You can also schedule a behavior modification training program by completing our contact form or calling (518) 952-7873.