Every dog owner’s dream is to see his four-legged best friend running and walking beside them without a leash. However, off leash dog training is not as easy as it seems. Especially when there is a risk of your dog running away, getting kidnapped, poisoned, or getting in a fight with other animals.
Should You Let Your Dog Loose?
The first important question is if should you even let your dog go off leash? Because generally, it is recommended to off leash your dog only in confined places or near surroundings having fewer people. It is even a serious offense in some cities to off leash your dog in public and you might have to pay heavy fines for that.
You might wonder why in some cities, there is a law prohibiting dogs from wandering without a leash? It is purely a safety issue, both for your dog and people. Who knows when your dog might bolt after a squirrel or a rabbit and get hit by a car?
Similarly, some people are not comfortable with animals and seeing an off leash dog can scare them. Moreover, who knows when your dog might snap and attack others.
Which Dog is Suitable to Off Leash?
However, it doesn’t certainly mean that you shouldn’t off leash your dog once in a while. After all, dogs also deserve freedom.
The question of off leash dog training totally depends upon your dog’s temperament. Following are some traits that indicate whether your dog is an ideal candidate or not:
- Your dog has a gentler, even-tempered personality.
- Has no record of aggressive behavior and socializes well.
- Your dog has a minimal prey drive and is easy-going.
- Doesn’t go out of sight and is command trained.
Only after satisfying the above-mentioned characteristic traits, your dog should be able to start an off leash training program.
Importance of Off Leash Dog Training
There are many benefits of being off leash like:
- Your dog can explore his surroundings in a better way, which he sadly could not when he is bounded to a leash.
- Your furry friend’s physical and mental wellness can improve by mingling and playing with other dogs in an off leash dog park.
- A new feeling of trust and partnership is formed between you and your dog.
- Most of all, off leash gives your dog freedom, even for a short period of time. Your dog won’t think that he is some sort of caged-up animal.
However, before letting your dog go off leash, please ensure that your dog meets the above-mentioned conditions. Because till now, many people and animals have been both physically and emotionally scarred by many off leash dogs.
Are Some Dog Breeds More Suitable For Off Leash Training?
It’s a general rule that breeds with a stronger prey drive are less suitable for off leash dog training. However, with training, it’s possible to train high prey drive breeds like Shiba Inu, Siberian Huskies, etc., to go off leash.
Some of the most common breeds that are renowned for being a perfect candidate for off leash dog training are:
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shorthaired Pointers
- Australian Shepherds
- Border Collies
Yet, individual dog personalities also matter a lot.
Off Leash Training: Basic Commands
Before letting your canine friend go off leash, it’s wise to teach some basic training commands to your dog. Some common commands that every dog should know before getting off leash are sit, stay, and come.
Although sit command doesn’t have anything to do with off leash training, it is necessary to learn for the upcoming “stay” command.
Here’s how you can teach this command:
- First, unbox a pack of treats and take one in your hand.
- Keep the treat close to the dog’s nose.
- Then move your palm upward so that the dog bottom gets lower, and the face moves along.
- Once your dog gets into the sitting position, say “sit” and reward him with a few treats and affection.
- Repeat the above steps a few times until complete mastery.
Stay command doesn’t let the dog go out of your sight and really comes in handy if your dog shows aggressive behavior.
Here’s how to teach the Stay command:
- First, with the newly learned “sit” command, get your dog into a sitting position.
- Then with an open palm, firmly say, “stay (dog’s name).”
- Move 2-3 steps back and reward your canine friend with a treat if he remains sit.
- Gradually increase the distance while keeping track of steps.
- Keep on doing this to greater distances.
During off leash dog training, “come” is the command that will be the most important for you. If learned right, this command will allow you to call your dog back from whatever place he might be loitering around.
Here’s how you can teach the “Come” command:
- First, start with a retractable dog leash.
- Say “Come (dog’s name)” with a gentle push on the leash.
- If your dog comes, reward him with treats and affection.
- Next, keep on increasing the length of the leash for greater distances.
- If your dog is obeying all the commands with excellence, then the next thing to do is try all the steps without a leash.
It’s good to go to some hiking trail where you can easily practice the “come” command off leash with your furry friend.
Now, after learning the three most essential commands, it’s time to move to the next level of off leash dog training.
Off Leash Dog Training: Start With a Long Leash
Before delving right into off leash, it’s wise if you first start with a long leash or a retractable dog leash. Such a leash will give your dog more freedom while you have absolute control. It will help you assess how your dog will behave when given more freedom and space.
However, keep an eye out for any dog running your way. The long leash can cause the tangling of dogs and leave behind a few broken bones!
Practice at an Off Leash Dog Park
An off leash dog park is a great place where you can test out the commands you taught to your dog. There you can also observe your dog’s behavior with other canines and people.
It’s a great tactic to start practicing at an off leash dog park before letting your dog go wild in the streets. Not only can it save you embarrassment, but it also helps you better understand your dog’s personality.
Therefore, get hold of some treats and, if possible, take a friend who is also a dog owner with you.
Off Leash Dog Training: a Key Tip
If you still haven’t, now is the time to get your dog microchipped. A microchip helps in case your furry friend gets lost somewhere. Also, before setting your dog loose, ensure that he is wearing an up-to-date dog collar or harness with ID tags.
Although these measures are often overlooked, they matter the most when your dog gets lost.
How To React If Your Dog Runs Away?
A question that hovers in the mind of every dog owner giving off leash dog training is, “What to do if my dog runs away?” Here are a few things that you can try:
Don’t Shout and Remain Calm
When you see your dog running away after prey, the first thing you need to do is the exact opposite of shouting. It would be best if you remained calm. Otherwise, the dog will be less likely to come back.
After all, who would you prefer? A shouting person or a person with composure?
Always Have Treats With You
What’s the best way to grab a dog’s attention? If you thought “food” then you are right. Treats serve as the greatest motivation for dogs. Therefore, shaking the bag of your dog’s favorite treats will likely get him back to you.
Don’t Run After Your Dog
Chasing after a dog is the biggest mistake that a dog owner can make. Dogs usually perceive running after them as a sort of chasing game and will run even faster. Under such circumstances, dogs won’t even bat an eye on potential dangers such as vehicles.
Therefore, it’s a foolish mistake to chase your dog. In the end, only you will be left panting.
Use the Verbal Commands You Taught Him
Instead, use the commands that you diligently taught your dog. After all, they were programmed into your dog’s brain for this purpose, amongst other things.
Shout “come,” and your dog will come back looking for treats and affection.
Always Use Positive Reinforcement
When your dog comes back from rambling at new places, the first thing you need to do is shower him with treats, praise, and love. Shouting yields nothing.
It would be best if you always welcome your furry friend with a positive attitude. Positive reinforcement will make sure that the dog returns the next time.
Whereas shouting, scolding, and punishment will only decrease the chances of your dog ever coming back again. Therefore, please make it a habit to greet your dog with a positive attitude and a desire to enhance his off leash dog training program.