Have you seen your pup (or their furry friends) dragging a rope leash on the ground while playing at PLAYtrain® Doggie Daycare? You may spot these drag leashes on our live webcams, in our PLAYtrain® photos on Facebook and Instagram, or hear our staff use the term when speaking about your pup’s day at daycare.
Drag leashes are one of the many motivational training tools we use in our flagship PLAYtrain® program to encourage healthy play habits, redirect undesirable behavior, and make doggie daycare a safe, fun, and enjoyable experience for all dogs.
Read on to learn about what a “drag leash” is and how we use them for teachable moments during play to bring out the best in every pup!
What is a drag leash?
A drag leash is a leash made of rope, with a knot at the end (in place of a loop for your hand). We make ours by braiding ropes together to create a sturdy rope leash. It’s called a “drag leash” because it’s meant for dogs to drag them along the ground!
Volunteers from Oliver Ames High School helping us make drag leashes during their Day of KindNESS
Why we use drag leashes in PLAYtrain®
In our structured PLAYtrain® Doggie Daycare program, dogs are simultaneously playing and training throughout the day! Our Trainers closely monitor play and use teachable moments to help dogs learn how to socialize in a healthy, appropriate manner. This includes sometimes using behavior modification to interrupt and redirect unwanted behaviors.
In striving to keep all dogs and attendants safe, we must have reasonable control of every dog. Therefore, we require every dog to have a properly fitted martingale collar and we have some dogs wear a drag leash so we can gain quick, safe access to them. Drag leashes are extremely useful training tools for a few important reasons:
Teaching recall with young or excitable dogs
If you’re a parent, you’ve likely had this experience with your children at some point. It’s time to leave the playground or the pool, and your kids aren’t ready to go home yet… so they sprint away from you in a fit of giggles, for a fun game of “catch me if you can!”
It’s not so different with dogs at daycare. When your pup is excited and having fun with their pals, it can be challenging to collect them when it’s time to go home, or when we are working on behaviors like recall (coming when called). Some pups are prone to dashing around the yard, hoping we’ll play tag! When this happens, we avoid chasing them, as the dog would think we’re playing and this would only encourage the unwanted behavior (running away). Having a dog wear a drag leash gives us an easy and efficient way to calmly gain access to them, and then reward them for turning their attention to their human handler.
Working with nervous dogs
Reaching for a dog’s neck, in order to hold their collar, can feel scary or startling to some dogs, especially those who are naturally shy or who get easily overstimulated. Some dogs may even interpret a hand coming toward their face as threatening. When we have a dog wear a drag leash in the yard, we’re able to gently pick up the leash without reaching for the dog’s neck – sometimes without the dog even noticing that we’re holding onto them. This helps us safely and gently gain access to pups who may feel timid or overwhelmed.
Interrupting behaviors to teach healthy play
One way that our Trainers encourage good play manners in adolescent pups and high-energy dogs is by interrupting unwanted behaviors – such as excessive nipping, rough play, barking, mounting, or failing to respect another dog’s personal space. When interrupting behaviors, timing is everything. Having a dog wear a drag leash allows us to gain access to them quickly in the moment, to redirect an undesirable behavior at the right time and turn the dog’s attention to their human teacher! Once we have their attention, we can then encourage the correct or appropriate behavior. Holding a drag leash also enables us to give a dog freedom to play, without letting them get too far from their human handler. By keeping the handler close by, we can guide them in how to respect their playmates’ personal space and engage in healthy play.
Drag leashes help us play and train at the same time
PLAYtrain® was designed to bring out the best in every dog. Tools like martingale collars, drag leashes, Haltis, muzzles and more are what allow our Trainers to do their jobs – safely redirecting undesirable behavior and promoting positive, healthy play! In all instances, our goal is to promote appropriate doggie manners and keep the socialization experience safe, fun, and enjoyable for all dogs. That’s our PLAYtrain® promise to you.