What is a training leash, a snap leash, and how should they be used?
Leash training for a dog can be rewarding, and at times very frustrating. In order to keep your dog focused on what you want it to do on leash, it's important to know the difference of these two leashes and how they are used.
A training leash has a slip loop at one end and a loop for the handle at the other. There is also commonly a sliding piece of leather or something similar to size the loop that goes around the puppy's head so it doesn't slip off. Training leashes tend to be shorter and also a narrower diameter of rope so that the dog can easily feel it on its neck.
Snap leashes have a loop at one end to hole onto but the other end has a snap, often made of brass that snaps to your dog's collar. These leashes tend to be longer and sometimes come in a larger diameter. They must be used in conjunction with a collar unlike the training or "slip" lead.
How do we use a training lead?
First, we must say that you should never ever pull a training leash. Your skill is to hold it steady and if the puppy walks out of the zone where you want them, they do so and the leash tightens. The begin to understand that they are the ones causing themselves to be uncomfortable. When you are training your puppy to walk beside you without pulling, this is the time to use a training leash. During this leash training the pup is not allowed to sniff, wander around, or walk in front of you. This is training time and you need to guide the pup beside you, usually on the left, and keep the leash so it is not constantly tight.
When walking a dog you are teaching it to follow you, so, you can NEVER let it walk in front of you. Either beside or behind is the acceptable positions while leash training. In the beginning the puppy will likely freeze and plant all fours firmly on the ground so you can't pu8ll him. They naturally resist if you were to pull. So, no pulling. Simply put a training treat in front of their nose and call them happily. You want to sound like fun and play time. Once the puppy begins to move keep it going.
When, and she will, the puppy walks in front of you, make sure your leash is short enough for it to stop the puppy's forward progress. You stop and either turn around so the puppy is behind you again or begin to walk backward and call the puppy's name so they follow you. The point of walking on a training leash in the first 5-7 walks is to get the puppy to respond to you and walk by your side, not to achieve a long distance walk. once the puppy is trained to follow then you can work on longer distances. Keep in mind, that having a treat in hand will help them focus on you and the treat and not distractions everywhere else.
How do we use a snap lead?
The snap leash can be used for walks once your puppy is trained, or to allow them to sniff and wander while you have them on leash and can keep them safe. In the beginning, don't confuse the two types of leashes and the two different walk types. As well, sniffing and wandering is essential for your puppy to be happy and healthy.
Keep in mind that in the beginning of your training, your puppy needs to be socialized for all types of different surfaces. They don't come preprogrammed to know that they are safe on grass, gravel, pavement, cement, and so on. So if your puppy comes to a spot where the grass meets the gravel, they may stop. It's important to understand that they are not disobeying you, rather they are unsure if they are safe or not crossing onto this new material. Slow progress is what is desirable. If you teach them one day that this crossing to a different surface is safe, they will likely just walk over it the next day, or two.
Why use a Leash at all?
Keeping your dog on a leash will keep them safe while you are training them. Once your dog is fully trained, you may be able to walk with them off leash. However, before they are totally trained there may be distractions that tempt them to wander away from you. As well, using a leash is a means of communication to your dog. For example, if your dog is sitting beside of you and you take up some slack on the leash, your dog will feel this weight change which is a signal to them. This signal is felt differently if your dog is using a slip lead, a snap lead or a harness. We will touch on the harness in a later post.
So there is a need for both kinds of leashes. Your puppy needs to understand a correction through the training leash, and it also needs time to wander and sniff as part of its' health on a snap leash. You will need both in your toolbox.