All dogs enjoy running and exploring the world freely. Therefore, it is likely that you are considering starting off-leash training. However, this also implies its risks. We tell you everything below.
Our 8 Top Tips For Off-Leash Training
- Give your dog a chip with your information in case he gets lost. If he already has a chip, check that his data is up-to-date.
- Check that your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, as well as flea and tick preventatives.
- Train basic commands and practice them regularly (even if your dog knows them).
- Find a rural area to leave your dog off-leash.
- Confirm that the law of the place where you live (or the one you will visit) allows your dog to walk off-leash.
- Check how your dog behaves more freely. You can try using a long leash or looking for an enclosed location (a dog park) to test the off-leash.
- Always have treats with you.
- Be patient!
➡️ Extra tip: you can put a GPS collar on your dog in case he gets lost.
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Off-Leash Training: The Best Practices!
Off-Leash Training is a lot like on-leash training. After all, your dog must learn to answer cues, albeit without the aid of communication provided by the leash.
Of course, to train without a leash, you must first find a safe place for you and your dog. Then, the time has come to try because practice makes perfect.
Let's look at the best practices for off-leash training:
- Begin indoors, either inside your home or in your backyard.
- Train the basic commands for off-leash training:
- Look at me
- Loose leash walking
- Leave it
- Drop it
- Reliable emergency call.
- You can start using a long strap.
- Drop the leash on the ground when your dog answers the cues on the long leash.
- The next step is to put the collar on without attaching it to the leash. Place the leash on the ground. It shouldn't be attached to your dog, nor should you have it in your hand.
- Train him without leash when your dog responds to the commands.
- Play hide and seek with your dog: hide and call him to find you.
- Prepare food with your dog within walking distance under the stay command. Make your pup be patient and stay under that command until it's time to eat.
- Ask a friend or family member to visit you. Try your stay, down and emergency call commands.
- Practice until your dog succeeds, and don't forget to reward him with sweet words, cuddles and lots of love.
- When your Çdog responds correctly, it's time to try off leash outside the house. Find a safe space. Remember that stimuli can make it more difficult for him to respond to your commands. Ideally, look for a fenced dog park with little crowds. Practice the cues there.
Check out: 11 Tips For Dog Park Safety
Off The Leash: The Risks You Need To Know
- Even the best-trained and older dogs can get distracted or follow their instincts.
- Loud noises or an unusual situation could startle your dog and make him run away.
- Dogs can get lost.
- Unfortunately, accidents happen: ingesting a toxin, being hit by a car or destroying private property, among other possibilities.
- Dogs sometimes bite in stressful situations. Keep this in mind!
- Some people are afraid of dogs. Be prepared to keep your dog under control.
- On your walks in the countryside, your dog could scare a horseback rider.
- On hikes, your dog could run into wild animals or have an accident from chasing a squirrel, for example.
- Your dog could get into a dogfight by invading another animal's space.
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What To Do If Your Dog Starts To Run Away
Without a doubt, this is one of the main doubts of every dog parent when starting off-leash training. We give you the answer:
🦥 Keep calm, even if it's hard.
Use the cue "come".
🥓 Show your dog that you have treats waiting for him.
🚨 Use your reliable emergency call in a firm tone of voice, but without showing fear or anger if your pup has not responded to the cue "come".
🏃 Don't chase your dog. Feeling chased, you will only run faster and the risk of getting hurt will increase.
🎾 Show your dog that you are going to start something fun. Throw the ball in the air or do something that usually starts the game between you.
🏠 Turn around to go home. It may sound strange, in some cases, dogs stop walking away from their owner when they see that the owner is about to leave.
💗 Don't yell or be angry with him once you get your pup back to you. Praise he's back!
Discover: 5 Worst Fails In Dog Training
Off-leash training can be a nice challenge to share with your pup. Of course, remember that it is a resource to be used sporadically. The safest thing for a dog is to walk on a leash. Find the right place to enjoy off-leash time and don't let your guard down. Always stay attentive!
Why Is Off-Leash Training Important?
Off-leash training is important because accidents happen. What would happen to your dog if he got loose or broke his leash? Or if your pup ran away from your backyard when he got scared? In these situations, off-leash training will allow you to make him react and come back to you.
How Do I Train My Dog To Be Off Leash?
To train your dog off-leash, practice the basic commands at home. Your dog should be able to respond minimally to "eat", "stay", "down" and "an emergency call" before practicing outside the home. When you feel confident, you can continue training outside the home, for example in a fenced dog park.
How Long Should A Leash Be For Off-Leash Training?
Use a 30-foot-leash to start training your dog off-leash. Then continue with a 50-foot-leash until letting go of the leash. Please consider the risks of off leash walking before you go for it.
How Do You Know When A Dog Is Ready To Be Off Leash?
Your dog may be ready for off-leash walking if:
- Responds to commands without hesitation.
- He remains calm in most situations.
- Recognize and react appropriately to your emergency call.
- Your pup is neutered: Dogs that are not neutered may follow their mating instincts and not respond to cues.
Will My Dog Run Away If I Let Him Off The Leash?
In general, trained dogs do not stray significantly from their dog parents, even when off-leash. However, it can happen that your dog runs away if he gets scared or if his mating or hunting instinct is unleashed. For this reason, you should know how to handle this situation before going off leash.