Guide To Umbilical Cord Training With Puppies & Dogs

Guide To Umbilical Cord Training With Puppies & Dogs

Welcoming a new puppy is an exciting time, but housebreaking can be a hurdle. Among various house training methods, umbilical cord training stands out. Also known as “tether training,” it is a great way to bond with your puppy and establish beneficial habits while eradicating the bad ones.

This technique is a vigilant supervision-based program that prevents bad habits from taking root. It’s more than just a housebreaking method; it’s an excellent alternative to crate training or other types of confinement.

In this guide, we offer insights and advice from professional dog trainers for successful umbilical cord training. Whether you’ve welcomed a large breed or a smaller pup, this method can lead to great results in a short time.

Remember, patience, determination, and a regular schedule are key in this journey of umbilical cord training with your furry friend.

umbilical cord training 1
Umbilical cord training is pretty much the same as what you do when you’re outside on a walk with your dog. It’s what you use that leash for!

What Is Umbilical Cord Training?

This is the first thing, right? What is it? Umbilical cord training, also known as “tether training”, is a supervision-based housebreaking method where the puppy is kept on a leash attached to you throughout the day. This hands-on approach enables you to monitor and correct your puppy’s behavior closely, facilitating rapid learning and good habits, while allowing immediate opportunities for positive reinforcement.

Q. Can Umbilical cord training be used with an adult dog? 

Yes! Sometimes umbilical cord training can really help an adult dog, particularly if you bring them into your home later in their life. Whether that’s helping your new dog find the right spot to pee in, or helping them learn appropriate behavior around your children. It’s the perfect choice if you’re struggling to keep an eye on them in an open plan home too!

The Process Of Umbilical Cord Training

Umbilical training is a little bit different to our normal way of training, it’s a way to overcome some management and (theoretically) give more freedom to our puppy, without giving too much and it’s a great alternative for a family who may not have baby gates, or play pens available when they’re introducing your new family member and can produce excellent results.

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adding a leash around the home gives you a lot of options

Equipment Needed for Umbilical Cord Training

  1. A 6-foot leash: This is the “umbilical cord.” A leash of this size gives your puppy a bit of room to move but still keeps them close to you.
  2. Chew toys: These helps distract your puppy and keep them occupied while they are tethered to you.
  3. Potty pads/Wee-wee pads: (Optional) These can be used if you prefer indoor potty training or if you’re not able to go outside frequently.
  4. Treats/Food rewards: These will be used as positive reinforcement when your puppy exhibits the right behavior. 

Ruffwear Hi & Light Harness

small, sturdy and importantly? Light weight! This harness is awesome for around the home for even the littlest of pups.

Trail Blazing Tails Biothane Leash

This leash is adjustable, light weight, easy to clean and importantly? Wearable. So for umbilical cord training this is absolutely perfect.

Vital Chicken Hearts

These are truly awesome, high value treats and often my go-to high value treat as they’re loved by pretty much all dogs I come into contact with. This or liver.

this may be an affiliated link and I may earn a small comission, however this does not change my opinion in any way!

Steps in Umbilical Cord Training

Step 1 – Make the connection

Attach the leash to your puppy’s collar or harness and then attach the other end to your belt loop or waist. This leashes the puppy to you, hence the term “umbilical cord method”. You can also use a specialised leash, or your every day leash, a carabiner and sturdy belt – do be careful on this as attaching it to a belt loop can result in some torn pants. You can also use “hands free” leashes with smaller dogs. 

You may consider a padded walking belt for this with larger dogs.

Step 2 – Begin your day

Start your usual daily activities, ensuring your puppy is always with you. This allows you to observe your puppy’s behavior closely whilst you’re still able to perform your daily task.

umbilical cord training 4
missing signals happens so easily, and your dog might be giving those signals, and you’re missing them! Umbilical cord training can really help.

Step 3 – Be observant

Watch for signs that your puppy needs to potty (sniffing, going in circles, whining) and immediately take them to their designated “potty area” which may be a potty pad or an outside safe space when you see these signs or other signs that you’re noticing denote pup needs to go. 

Step 4 – Reward!

If they use the potty area correctly, reward them with verbal praise (or a click, or marker word) and a food reward. This positive reinforcement encourages them to continue the right behavior. 

You’re also going to reward when they choose to do the right thing throughout the day, as this is a great opportunity to take advantage of their constant supervision and capture all sorts of desireable behavior, such as sitting nicely whilst you prepare food, not jumping on your children or guests and a whole host of other things that you want to see in your future, trained dog.

Step 5 – Learn & Don’t Punish.

Should an accident occur, don’t react negatively. Clean up the mess promptly and quietly. It’s equally crucial to take your puppy to the potty area and reiterate where it’s acceptable to go. If an accident did happen, you should have been aware of what your puppy did so you can learn for next time. Punishment is never the answer.

umbilical cord training 6
jumping on people is a pain in the butt, but… a leash? Will solve so much of that and give you the opportunity to prevent the behavior.

Step 6 – Give down time.

Continue with this training throughout the day, your puppy needs an astonishing 18-20hrs of sleep when they’re not 6 months old, and this constant supervision technique is awesome for everything puppy training — except for encouraging them to settle and how to be separate from you. 

Step 7 – Add freedom over time

As with all dog training the next important thing is to move this from impractical to more practical. Slowly add freedom to puppy, and guide less, allowing puppy to keep making great decisions over long periods, you may even begin to detatch the leash from your belt and leave it trailing as you go around your house (this is called a house leash), and if you need to prevent access? You still can by stepping on the leash to limit your puppy’s ability to make a bad decision.

How Long Does It Take?

The duration of umbilical cord training can vary depending on your puppy’s age, breed, and ability to adapt to new situations. It also depends on the consistency of the training program from the owner’s side. Generally, a period of a few weeks to a few months is required to see good results – particularly when it comes to minimising house training mistakes. Regularity, consistency, and patience is the key for successful umbilical cord training.

Benefits of Using the Umbilical Cord Method

Umbilical cord training, or tether training, brings forth numerous advantages apart from just housebreaking your pup. Let’s delve into some of these benefits:

umbilical cord training 3
good dogs really don’t happen quickly. Training takes time. Be ready for that.

Better Control and Monitoring

Being physically connected to your puppy allows you to closely monitor their behavior. This gives you the opportunity to intervene promptly when you see behavior that needs correcting, such as nipping or chewing on furniture, or signs that they need to relieve themselves. With the umbilical cord method, you can promptly lead your pup to their designated potty area thus speeding up house training process and the chewing on the coffee table as you give direct supervision and not too much freedom.

Strengthens Bond Between Puppy and Trainer

During this training, your puppy is by your side most of the time, helping to build a strong bond and a deep sense of trust and security. Sharing day-to-day activities allows your puppy to become comfortable with you, improving their overall behavior with family members and helping them adapt easily to their new home.

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Facilitates Toilet and Behavior Training

Umbilical cord training inherently includes toilet training. As you learn to spot the signs indicating when your puppy needs to relieve themselves, you can gently guide them towards the correct area. This method also aids in general behavior training, as you’re able to correct unwanted behavior, such as inappropriate chewing or barking, immediately as it happens.

Along with these, timely rewards reinforce the good habits, making the umbilical cord method a comprehensive, effective approach to overall puppy training.

In conclusion, the umbilical cord training method fosters better control over your puppy’s actions, strengthens your bond, and aids in both toilet and behavior training, providing a holistic solution to the challenges of ushering a puppy into their new home.

Can Be tougher With A Big Dog

If you’re doing this with an older dog, or a larger breed, it can be rough on the owners waist in a short period of time. Whilst you’re teaching your puppy boundaries, the umbilical cord may not be such a great tool for you, and you may prefer a puppy pen.

umbilical cord training 2
training your puppy in this way can really help you learn your pupper.

Possible Challenges Associated with Umbilical Cord Training

While umbilical cord training is quite beneficial, it can come with a few specific challenges. Below, we address some of these and offer solutions:

Not Giving Seperation

One potential issue with tether training could be the onset of a clingy puppy, particularly with a velcro dog. Some even would say it can contribute towards separation anxiety – though that’s unproven and (personally) I think great home alone training can overcome a lot of that. It’s essential to gradually introduce periods of separation to help your puppy get used to being alone and reduce anxiety. Velcro breeds are particularly prone to this!

Choosing the Right Leash and Accessories

When it comes to leashes, a 6-foot non-retractable leash is generally the go-to choice for umbilical cord training. It’s the perfect length to give your puppy space without sacrificing control. However, ensure it is sturdy enough to withstand the typical puppy behavior of chewing. Chew toys and treats are good accessories to help keep the puppy occupied while tethered.

Managing Sleep Needs

Puppies, especially younger ones, sleep frequently throughout the day. During these nap times, it’s crucial for the puppy’s comfort and safety to be untethered and left to rest in a secure, comfortable area, like a crate or a playpen. You may need to adjust your schedule or routine to align with the puppy’s sleep times.

Training a puppy with the umbilical cord method is a fantastic foundation for a strong relationship with your new furry friend and lays the groundwork for good habits. Being aware of these potential challenges can help you navigate the process more smoothly.

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Difficult to Add Freedom 

The transition between on leash and off-leash around the home can be tough. It can take a lot of time to take your puppy from the leash and the monitoring to being free around the home. You may start with a single room with a baby gate before phasing it out to the entire house. 

A Word Of Caution

Sometimes, a professional dog trainer (who may be unqualified, please check!) can promote the umbilical cord house, and can suggest that you pair it with correction of a behavior, or jerk the leash to stop a behavior problem – this would be incorrect and be punitive training, which we know is not needed within dog training, and is not a good option for teaching how to behave around the home. 

If your trainer does this, please see it as a red flag and find yourself a new trainer who knows and understands the difference between using the tether as a confinement method and a correction method.


Umbilical method of training is a hands-on, intimate method that can greatly assist in the housebreaking and behavior training of your new puppy. By keeping your puppy tethered to you with a 6-foot leash throughout the day, you’re able to closely monitor and immediately correct any undesirable behaviors, while also recognizing and reinforcing positive actions. This method not only aids in faster toilet training but also strengthens the bond between you and your puppy, ensuring a foundation of trust and understanding from the outset.

This training technique not only provides better control and monitoring of your puppy but also facilitates their toilet and overall behavior training more efficiently. Despite the possible challenges, such as preventing separation anxiety, selecting suitable equipment, and managing your puppy’s sleep needs, the umbilical cord method stands out for its effectiveness in creating a well-behaved pet while enhancing the pet-owner relationship.

And if you want to get ahead in your puppy training journey, check out the Rebarkable Puppy Bundle

Author, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is a professional, qualified, and multi-award winning trainer is the founder of rebarkable. She has always believed animals deserve kindness and champions force free methods. Believing that dog guardians will all choose the kindest options if proper information is provided, she aims to help all dog guardians who need it and make dog training as accessible as possible

Ali lives win Maryland, US with her husband and her three dogs.


Welcoming a new puppy is an exciting time, but housebreaking can be a hurdle. Among various house training methods, umbilical cord training stands out. Also known as “tether training,” it is a great way to bond with your puppy and establish beneficial habits while eradicating the bad ones. This technique is a vigilant supervision-based program…

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