This technique comes from a gifted professional dog trainer named Dawn Jecs of Puyallup, Washington. She recommends using a piece of grosgrain ribbon about 10-15 feet long to help keep a puppy out of trouble when the pup is off leash but still not entirely trustworthy. Grosgrain is the ribbon with the ridges in it. It’s recommended because it holds up well over time.
The ribbon can be used to prevent a puppy from chasing other animals. It can be used to reinforce the “Come” (come when called.) It can be used to teach a pup the property boundaries. If your puppy is developing a behavior you don’t like, put a ribbon on and try to prevent the behavior just before you expect it to happen.
I like using a ribbon when I introduce a puppy to free-range chickens for the first few times. I anticipate that a young pup will want to pounce/play/chase free-range birds. If the puppy becomes overly interested in the birds and starts chasing them, I simply step on the ribbon. The puppy will come to a stop with no verbal corrections from me.
If the puppy looks in my direction, I praise the pup. This is a nice way to teach the “leave it” command. I was taught that you name a behavior at the moment it happens. So as the puppy turns away from the item of interest, that’s the moment I say “leave it”, followed by praise.
I like to use ribbon that’s about 1 inch wide. I use a cigarette lighter to melt each end so the ribbon won’t unravel. One end of the ribbon is tied to the puppy’s collar. The rest just trails behind the puppy.
I’ve also tied the ribbon to what’s called a “tab”. This is a tiny leather strap with a snap. It aids in a quick removal when we’re done using the ribbon. You can also purchase metal bolt snaps at the hardware store.
Do not tie any other knots in the ribbon. This is important. Knots will catch on things like shrubs and furniture and get hung up. Ribbon with no knots just slides through things. Ok, if a pup circles a tree two or three times, that will get hung up, so supervise the puppy when the ribbon’s on.