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Would you like to learn how to have a pet that can hang out on pet-friendly patios? A dog that can calmly and politely greet visitors? A cat that behaves normally on leash instead of digging in and refusing to move? Maybe you'd like to just generally live life without your pet acting like a crazy hyped up monster?
Sitting the Leash is the drill for you, my friend! This is the. easiest. relaxation drill. for pets. In fact, I am doing it with my cat, Azula, as I am typing this blog post! So, let's dig in.
Sitting on the Leash: The Easiest Relaxation Drill for Pets
Ok gang, this drill is exactly what its name says. You’re going to clip the leash to your pet and sit on the leash.
If you have a dog, you’re going to want to use a plain, flat collar or a martingale collar that they cannot slip out of. If you’re training your cat, you’re going to clip this to their harness. Again, you’ll want to make sure that they can’t slip out of it. That may mean that you need to adjust it a little!
Next, make sure that your pet has juuuuuust enough leash to lay down. They shouldn’t have enough to wrap around your chair or anything like that. Just enough leash to stand up or lay down.
Let's take a moment to talk about what sort of chair you should be using for this drill. You'll want to find a chair that your pet can lay next to, so sitting in the middle of the couch is not going to be the best fit. If you have dining room chairs, they will probably work great. (If your house is anything like mine, just make sure to check the chair for cats before you sit down!)
Trust me on this one... you are NOT going to want a wheelie chair! This is a drill that teaches our pets to relax. Teaching them to mush is whole different drill!
Ok, so now, you’re just going to sit on the leash.
And ignore your pet.
For at least 30 minutes.
You’re not going to touch them, talk to them or give them any feedback.
The only time you’re going to intervene is if they are at risk of hurting you, themselves, or your property. If they are chewing on your chair or trying to climb you, you may just need to scootch them a little bit with the leash but then go right back to ignoring them. If they are chewing on the leash, steer up very gently on the leash until they stop, then go right back to ignoring them!
This drill teaches our pets to ignore the distractions around them. It teaches them to relax when you are sitting still. It also teaches them to be calm when the leash is short! Essentially, you’re teaching them to self soothe while you get things done. I love this drill because it is SO easy! I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t sit down for at least 30 minutes a day. Even if you need to do a ton of computer work or the only time you’re sitting is when you’re eating, this is a nice and easy way to start teaching your pet to be calmer! Our long term goal is that your pet just starts to relax right away when you start this drill, but remember there isn’t any specific behavior you’re asking for. You’re simply done when you reach your set time of at least 30 minutes.
If your pet is relaxing right away during Sitting on the Leash, you might want to increase the distraction levels! Add toys, treats, people, other pets, or even move outside. Just remember to only add one new distraction at a time and stay at that level of distraction until your pet is relaxing quickly again.
Feel free to do Sitting on the Leash for even more than 30 minutes, especially if you need to be sitting for more than 30 minutes. Just make sure that each drill lasts at least 30 minutes to help your pet get the most benefit out of this relaxation drill.
As with any training technique or behavior, this is going to be the most effective if you can practice it once a day or at least 5 days a week! It's always ok to take a weekend from training practice. Just like everything else in training, it will be easiest for you and your pet if you can simply add it to your daily routine. Do you sit down to watch the news while you drink your morning cup of coffee? Add Sitting on the Leash to that part of your day! This relaxation drill is going to change your (and your pet's) life! It might not seem like it on day one, but you'll probably start to see improvements by day two. Just check out these posts from KCAT Club member, Sarah. On Day One 30 minutes felt too long for her but by Day Two her dog, Zamboni, was already better at relaxing!
Practice Sitting on the Leash with your pet for two weeks and let me know how it goes! I'm sure you'll see your pet relaxing more quickly which, in turn, will start improving their behaviors in so many other areas!
I can't talk about this drill without mentioning the late great Margot Woods. She was one of the first trainers to start talking about this drill, except she called it Sit on the Dog.
Check out two of her blog posts about Sit on the Dog:
Sit on the Dog, aka: The long down, Margot's description of Sit on the Dog: http://sanityshome.blogspot.com/2010/01/sit-on-dog-aka-long-down.html
Sit on the Dog pictorial, Margot's photo tutorial for Sit on the Dog: http://sanityshome.blogspot.com/2010/01/sit-on-dog-pictorial.html
Need a leash, collar, or harness to tackle this drill with your pet?
Want to work on even more relaxation drills so you can enjoy even more adventures with your pet? Click here to grab your FREE training guide including two more relaxation drills for your pet!