When you first hear the question you might be thinking “Avidog – Helping People Create Healthy, Stable Canine Companions” or “Avidog – Making The World A Better Place For Dogs.”
Although we do believe if everyone would follow Avidog’s breeding, rearing and puppy training methods the world would be a better place for dogs, the real answer to the question is Avidog’s Tagline is a thin, 6-foot line with a small clip on the end that attaches to your puppy’s collar. Starting the day you bring your puppy home she should wear a Tagline like you wear your watch, only taking it off when you go to bed, or in your pup’s case when she goes into her crate or exercise pen.
Why should your pup wear a Tagline?
When you bring your puppy home he is going to be testing his boundaries all the time. Using a Tagline allows you to easily stop him from rehearsing behaviors you don’t like without him realizing that you are the one stopping him.
My newest puppy-coaching client has a 10-week-old puppy. When they caught her standing on the dishwasher door licking the plates clean they did what most people do, they grabbed a camera. I’m the first to admit that it’s cute, but what is she learning? What will it look like when she is a 40-pound adult dog? Is it what they wanted her to learn was acceptable behavior? If they decide it is not, they need to be sure she is never allowed to rehearse that behavior. The easiest way to deal with times when your puppy gets into places you don’t want her, such as on the counter, in the dishwasher or jumping up on a person, is a Tagline.
Here’s a short video of Bliss wearing her Tagline while playing with the other dogs in the backyard. Notice how no one pays any attention to her wearing the Tagline, even Bliss.
How does the Tagline work?
Dogs and puppies have something called opposition reflex. When you pull in one direction their bodies instinctually pull in the other. For example, if your pup jumps on the counter and you grab him by the collar and pull back, his body will pull toward the counter, where you don’t want him. However, if instead you say nothing but use the Tagline to lift him up and away, his body will naturally pull down and he will sit. If every time he jumps up he ends up sitting and gets nothing, including your attention, he will eventually stop jumping up.
Why not just take your pup by the collar?
If you use the collar approach, your pup will first learn that jumping on the counter is a way to get your attention. Second, it won’t take more than two or three times of your reaching for his collar for him to learn to duck and run from you. Some pups will become fearful while others think it’s a really fun game to play keep away. Those last pups start to look for things to get into in order to start the game!! And finally, as anyone who has raised a puppy knows, voluntarily putting your hand near those very sharp puppy teeth can be pretty unpleasant. The Tagline gives you a handle that keeps your hands (arms, legs, shoes, pants, etc.) at a distance from your pup.
What else can you use the Tagline for?
Taglines have an infinite number of uses as you shape your puppy’s behavior. Early on, it keeps your puppy from grabbing things he shouldn’t, like electrical cords, the cat, your baby’s pacifier, a hornet on the ground or the corner of your beautiful credenza. It is a fabulous tool to stop counter-surfing and stealing in its tracks. As your pup grows, use the Tagline to keep your puppy from jumping on guests, your children and you. The line itself teaches the pup to sit when greeting people.
The Tagline’s value continues throughout your pup’s first year, although you may need a slightly longer one outside. Once your pup hits the Independent stage at 16 weeks, the Tagline is very helpful in reinforcing your come command, politely greeting people and adult dogs, and learning to ignore delicacies like rabbit poo and other disgusting dog treasures. It gives you a calm way to teach your puppy to regain his self control when he gets overstimulated.
Why does the Tagline work?
The Tagline works because it allows you to easily, safely and calmly keep your puppy from getting any reinforcement, intentional or not, from his unwanted behaviors. It saves you from yelling “No!” constantly at your pup. He does not learn to run from you when you reach for his collar. He never learns to use his needle teeth to keep you at bay, even in play.
Our clients love using their Taglines. Recently one of them told me he could not believe that after all the supplies he bought for their new pup, the Tagline that cost only $5.00 was by far the most useful!
Have you used a Tagline with your puppy? Which behaviors did it work best for?
Additional Newsletter [Volume 2] articles:
Oh, What Fun! Avidog’s Adventure Box
The Party’s Over: What to Do for Your Dam When You Send Your Puppies Home