TRAINING YOUR JRT TO A LEASH

 

With most training, you have to assert from the beginning that YOU are the alpha...the one in charge. It is the same with leash training. Where it differs from other training is that, usually you set the pace. But in leash training you need to leave some leeway for the JRT to learn at THEIR pace.


There are no definitive rules for leash training. What works for one, may not work for another. What one learns almost immediately, may take another days or weeks to learn. What you need to keep in mind is that you need to be patient, calm, confident, again take it at a pace established by your JRT, and work at alleviating your JRT of any fears it exhibits. If you can do this, leash training can be a fun learning experience for you both.


First and foremost, execute your leash training in short sessions, and use lots of positive reinforcement. This can be a very emphatic "yes" when your JRT does well, coupled with lots of hugs and kisses, or maybe even a little nibble of their favorite treat. Just make sure that your JRT knows when it has done good, not just when it has done wrong.


 



To begin any training, you need to make sure you have the proper equipment. I can not emphasize this enough choker chains are NOT for leash training. Do NOT put a choker chain on your JRT. This will hinder more than help and will not aid in alleviating any of your JRT's fears or anxieties about the whole training process.

Choosing your collar and leash should not be a snap, or sudden choice. Some JRT's work well with collars, others not so much. My JRT's never did adapt to collars, and after months of working with them both, I decided to switch to a harness. I can not tell you what a world of difference it made. Before, with a collar, in the beginning stages, my JRT's would tug and pull so much, they would literally choke themselves. This was not acceptable. Using the harness made the process much more comfortable for them both, and afforded me a little more control than the collar did. So, choose your method wisely. And if a collar does not work, do not get discouraged. You always have the option of trying a harness.



In leash training, the one constant, other than the training itself, is that a properly trained JRT will walk to your side, with the leash constantly slack. They will not be ahead of you, behind you, or way off to the side. Also, the leash is not to be pulled taunt at any given time. This will help to establish the boundaries that are necessary for you to be in control, not your JRT.
Start you first day with placing the collar or harness onto your JRT, and letting them get the feel of it. Let them know that the collar/harness is not something that will hurt them, or cause them pain. They will assuredly rub and try to get the collar/harness off, but that is okay. They need to adjust, and after a little while, they will be fine with it.


The next step is to attach the leash. Let the JRT move around freely, dragging the leash behind them. This will also establish that the leash, like the collar/harness, is not there to cause them harm. They need to know that that they are safe when wearing their collar/harness and leash.
Once they are adjusted to both the collar/harness and leash, now is the time to begin implementing your short sessions of training. When I trained the girls, the first several sessions were done indoors, with minimal distractions and were about listening and paying attention to my commands. I achieved this through the use of small nibbles of their favorite treat. I would pick up the leash, and instruct them to come to me, tugging ever so slightly to emphasize what I wanted done. When they obeyed, they got a treat. I would then tell them to stay, walk away a few steps, and tell them to come, again tugging on the leash gently if necessary. I repeated this routine for the entire first, and most of the second session.

Repetitiveness and patience are the two key factors in this type of training. Do not get discouraged or upset if your JRT resists at first, it is in their nature. Just keep repeating the routine over and over and most assuredly your JRT will quickly catch on.
After you feel confident that your JRT has mastered the routine indoors, then it is time to take them outdoors for the next couple of sessions. The outdoors provide a whole different setting, rife with temptations and distractions. This is when you will begin the sessions on training your JRT to listen, and not just go off and do their own thing. When dogs are outside, they are hardwired to explore their environment. This can become an issue with any training situation, but leash training especially.

Have your JRT sit, and then you proceed to walk a few steps away. Tell them come, and when they do reward them. If they do not do as told, and instead wonder, or get distracted, go up to your JRT, get their full attention, tell them to stay, and repeat the routine. Once they have executed the command and required results correctly a few times, repeat the process by walking further and further away each time. When they have done well, you will then allow them sniffing and exploring time. But. keep the leash in your hand, and the JRT close at all times. You need to let them know that they are still to listen, but for the moment they are allowed to wonder and explore.
Once you have this routine established to your satisfaction, it is time to take your JRT outside its comfort zone, and for a walk. There will many more distractions for your JRT, but just remember to keep the roles established of who is in charge. Make sure that that leash remains slack at all times, and that your JRT remains at your side, close the entire time as well. If your JRT starts to wonder, or tug on the leash, stop, indicate to your JRT to sit or stay, wait a few moments, and walk a few steps away. Command your JRT to come and when it does, praise or treat them. If you JRT is being especially stubborn, you may have to go back home, and do additional sessions until the routine is cemented.

Do not give up and do not become discouraged. Patience is the key role on your side of this endeavor, and it is a journey that you and your JRT are taking together. Just be consistent, firm, and in control. Allow your JRT to work at their pace, and you are sure to get them trained.

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