Your barn dog may never have needed to wear a leash before. She stays close to home and spends her days keeping watch over your livestock, and it has never occurred to you to put a leash on her. Now you find yourself in a situation in which you need to leash your dog, and you are surprised to find that your typically good-natured barn dog acts like a wild animal as soon as you put a leash on her. Maybe she seems scared of the leash, or maybe she just doesn’t understand how the physics of a leash works. One thing is certain, you are not going to be walking your dog down city streets like this.
You may think it is impossible to teach your old barn dog to use leash manners, but teaching her to behave on-leash is really not that difficult. Success will depend on the trust you have built with your dog in the relationship you already have, and transitioning that trust to the leash. By the end of training, your dog will understand the leash as a trusted link to you, her beloved person.
Your goal in training is to teach your dog to view the leash as a gentle leader to a new and exciting world. The leash will allow your homebody barn dog to explore a world too dangerous without the active guidance of a trusted human. Training success is dependent on your relationship with your dog, so if you have mostly left your barn dog to do her job on her own in the past, you will need to build trust with her now before exposing her to the new anxiety of leash training.
Get to know your barn dog in a new way by playing with new toys with her, giving her treats for simple tricks and coming when called, and handling her body in trust building ways, working up to handling paws and tail, looking at teeth, etc. All of these activities build the foundation of trust that will be essential in the next steps.