6. Imperfect Dog Introductions: Tie Downs, Leashes Indoors, and Drag Lines

Tie Downs, Leashes Indoors, and Drag Lines


First, a brief description:

A tie down is a tether that is attached from the dog to a solid surface (preferably a wall). Pictured above


An indoor leash is being held by someone (similar to umbilical training but I prefer not to have the leash tied around me and don’t use this exclusively for house training. Pictured above.


A drag line is essentially a short (3-5 foot) leash that you leave connected to the potentially questionable dog. Pictured above. It is used when you are getting closer to and actively working for full integration and is often one of the final steps.  Although they can be used to gently interrupt behavior (ex. step on the leash when they are getting over excited and running around, pick it up and lead them away when a situation arises that could get them into trouble). Drag lines are also about damage control. They are easy to pick up in the case of a fight and help give you control of the situation. KEEP IN MIND, if you think there is going to be a fight, YOU SHOULDN’T BE USING DRAG LINES–your dogs aren’t ready for it yet.


Before we graduate to having the dogs interact off-leash, we use tie-downs and leashes indoors to control their interactions. Having dogs hang out in the same room, relaxing or focusing on something other than each other, while on a sturdy tie-down can really smooth out the integration process. I recommend having the other dog also on leash, unless they are reliably trained. Just because they are on a tie-down or leash doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to them. You still need to be monitoring, making sure they aren’t getting tangled and aren’t feeling trapped.

There are a few things I make sure to watch for when using tethers indoors.

  • Is the collar secure? Is the anchor secure? You don’t want a shoddy collar or a dog that can pull a chair to result in management failure.
  • Can they hang themselves? I’m not joking, I ask this every single time and never leave my dogs tethered and unsupervised. Dogs can fall off of couches or get caught around something, so you want to make sure they are safe.
  • Does the leash/tie-down make them anxious or reactive in the house? If so, you are obviously going to skip this step because it isn’t going to help anyone.
  • Are the dogs getting caught together in the tether?
  • Does the dog on the tie-down feel the need to protect themselves/their space
  • Hard stares and still, potentially threatening behavior–if you see this, it’s time to re-evaluate your integration plan and take steps to build positive associations.







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