Is Your Dog Ready To Go Off Leash?
We all want a dog that can go off leash and come back when called. Problem is… most people jump to that fairy tale scenario waaaay before their dog is actually ready. Think of it this way… teenagers want unwavering freedom. In most cases, if they were to get it, they’d make some pretty bad decisions. Not because they are bad, but bad because they don’t have enough experience to make good judgement calls in tough situations.
Just like child rearing, preparing your dog to go off leash is a matter of continuous preparation. Your ultimate goal is to prepare your dog to respond the way you want to as many situations as possible. After you’ve seen your dog respond well repeatedly to a ton of difficult situations on leash, only then you can trust them to be off leash.
Here are the two questions we’ll address in this post.
1. How do you know your dog is ready to go off leash?
2. What can you do to get your dog ready to go off leash?
How Do You Know?
Answer the questions below honestly. Don’t be one of those people who think their dog would never!.
- Will your dog attempt to approach strange people or strange dogs?
- Does your dog come back immediately when called?
- Does your dog chase cars, bikes, skateboards, joggers, squirrels, birds, etc… ?
- Will your dog STAY around high level distractions?
What Can You Do?
Below is a list of steps you can take to help prepare your dog for the ultimate freedom.
- First, your dog needs to have really solid basic obedience. Mix in the training everyday on your walks or before feeding. Work on SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, and HEEL.
- Pay attention to the things that seem to catch your dog’s attention on walks, then determine the level of those distractions on a scale of 1-10.
- Start working with your dog in a safe area (preferably enclosed yard) with them on a 30ft. long line. Let the dog drag the line. Don’t hold it only pick up the line if you have to. While on the line, you want to work all your basic obedience. In addition, try to get some distance on your commands.
- Practice STAY with the long line. Feed the line out and walk away from your dog. If the dog gets up, reset them and start over. Once the dog’s STAY is pretty sticky, you can try dropping the leash and walking away.
- Once your dog is performing the desired tasks around distractions reliably, you can move back to the safe area and go off leash, then work your way back up.
Good rule of thumb, is to condition your dog to a remote collar in the basic obedience or long line processes. Though, I trust my dogs off leash, I almost always keep an e collar on them when they’re loose. I trust them, but you never know… Having your dog off leash trained or not, comes with some risks. You are potentially risking the safety of your dog and others; not to mention the risk to your wallet if something goes wrong. My best advice is to be patient. You have 10 or more years with your dog. Take the first year or so, to train and prepare them. Obedient off leash dogs are the product of consistency and good training.
If you’re interested in preparing your dog for on and off leash obedience, click the button below to schedule an evaluation.