Many owners want to go for an outing with their furry companion without the burden of a leash. Such dreams are not unattainable fantasies. Even the dog with the most stubborn behavior can be turned into peaceful, gentle walking companions through constant training. Teaching your pet to stroll off the leash will require you to create a solid leash training foundation before you begin.
Dogs are awe-inspiring to play, run, and explore without the restrictions of leashes. However, letting your dog go off the leash could be risky for your dog and inconsiderate to the community. You are generally not advised to allow your pet to go off the leash unless you’re within a secured space.
Your dog needs to be trained to be a good dog and remains at your side or under your control when you let it off the leash. If your dog’s in good well-being, is calm and even-tempered, has an external prey drive, hasn’t displayed signs of aggression, and isn’t expressing “wanderlust.” There is a chance that you can put it on the leash in certain situations. If you want it to be a smooth ride, there are a lot of steps in training you have to be taken before granting the dog this liberty.
Consider the Risks
Before letting your dog walk off the leash, it is crucial to be aware of various aspects that could threaten your pet’s safety and the safety of those in the vicinity. For example, many towns and cities have leash laws to ensure everyone’s safety. If you break the law, prepare for citations and fines at the very minimum.
Keep in mind that even the most trained dog may become lost. Unintentionally, a dog could observe a dog or prey animal and chase it in a rush of pure instinct. Certain dogs can be scared by loud sounds and flee in terror. If your dog gets away from your view even for a short time, the dog is at risk of danger, resulting in problems. Dogs could wander off and even be struck by a vehicle, inhale the toxin, be involved in a dogfight, become assaulted by wild animals, or cause property damage and other issues.
It’s also essential to remember that some people are scared of dogs or don’t especially enjoy dogs. In the simplest sense, letting your dog go off-leash can be considered rude and annoy others. In the worst-case scenario, the dog could attack or bite anyone, even children who be tempted to approach it with innocent intent. Even if your dog stays close to you, the other family members may become fearful or nervous. Dogs can be aware of this fear and react surprisingly.
How do you train your dog to walk without a leash?
Part 1: Find an Ideal Space and Establish Trust
Are you prepared? Let’s start training the dog. We love to take walks unsupervised.
Start in a Confined Space
In the beginning, We put our dog walking on a long lead. There isn’t a fencing area, but if you have one, that’s great.
At first the process, the girl walked a few feet from us, and then we called her name. We ensured that whenever we called for her and she returned close enough to meet us, we thanked her with a mini milk bong.
I think this was the case for this procedure because we cared about the tone we used in our voice when we spoke for her, using a singing voice rather than a training tone. It made her associate this experience with an enjoyable experience.
Play Games That Reinforce Off-Leash Training
Here are a few games we had during our off-leash training. These games are best played in the fenced backyard. However, if you don’t have an access point (like us), you could use an indoor space such as garages or basements. When it was hot enough, we pulled the car out, closed our garage, and utilized it to work with her at night.
- Doggy in the middle: I wanted my husband’s help in this particular game as you’ll need two players to play. We would sit apart, and after that, he’d invite her to join us and give her big head-pats and some praise. After she had received her affection, I’d ask her to come over and praise her. This game allowed her to realize that she’s always eager to return to us each time we call because she’ll receive lots of kisses. So when we’re hiking, and she wanders far from us, all we need to do is contact her, and we’re sure that she’ll come back to snuggle.
- Fetch: You already know the rules for this game, and I don’t have to explain the game. Our dog loves tennis balls most for this game, and it’s another method to force us to leave and return.
- Find Me: This is similar to having a game of hiding and seek with your pet. My child and I played this game together. He would take her to the room for her to “hide” while they counted until they reached 10. After they had reached 10, he’d unlock the door, and she’d go out to find me. This was also an opportunity to encourage her to contemplate getting one of her friends even when we were not in view.
Build Trust With Your Dog
To successfully get your dog off the leash, you must trust each other. You should be aware of some mistakes when training your pet to be a trusted family member and improve your recall skills.
- Recall Overuse Make sure you are careful when calling your pet. Dogs are like children. They’ll turn you off when you repeatedly reach them without reason.
- Beware of Tricking Him: Don’t do the wrong thing by fooling your dog into thinking she’s out for a stroll and then putting her in her dog’s kennel instead. All this could show her is you cannot be trusted and that you’re not the end of everything enjoyable.
- Make calls to Scold. Please do not contact your dog to make them feel reprimanded. This can create a negative image in the brain. If you require correcting the behavior, be it screaming at the cat or digging through the garbage, head to her and address the issue there.
Part 2: Identify and Address Distractions
Once you’ve earned the trust and trained your dog to follow commands, We’re ready for what’s next.
Find out what is distracting your dog most. Some dogs have a strong prey drive. This means that rabbits and squirrels are their primary sources of distraction. Some dogs are attracted to other animals, humans, or even cars. One of the best ways to find out is to watch her while walking with your dog. What triggers her to pull at the leash most forcefully, or what keeps her on alert? They are her distractions.
Deal With Distractions
Begin to teach your dog how to stay away from her distractions. Begin with distractions that aren’t so big of an issue in her mind (our dog is sometimes caught up in a mower while we’re out, but she doesn’t pursue it) and gradually move on to more violent ones (she can be seen throwing herself full-throttle towards Seagulls ).
To do this, you’ll have to add the command “watch me.” “Watch me” can be taught in two methods.
- When your dog is on its leash, begin walking. When she’s relaxed, then turns quickly around and walks in the opposite direction. When you’re done, then say, “Watch me!” Repeat this several times throughout your walk to ensure that she can pay attention to the other person and what you’ll follow up with the next step.
- Another method of teaching “watch me” is off-leash. Off-leash training varies depending on the dog’s more toy or food-driven. If treats are what your dog is craving when you give them, put them in front of your face and shout, “watch me.” You must ensure that you are paying attention before giving the treat. These are the same in the case of a dog that is obsessed with toys. Use toy-driven dogs. Use the “watch me” command before throwing or giving the toy.
Once your dog is proficient with the command, you can begin using it during walks. Be attentive to its behavior to see what distractions it is still struggling to master and concentrate on them until it is perfect. Do it repeatedly with each distractor until it is consistent with the behavior.
Part 3: Finally Off-Leash
Now is the time to improve your dog’s off-leash capabilities. The ideal place to begin is a dog-friendly place that doesn’t have a lot of traffic on the streets nearby. Begin by walking your dog along with the leash. Once you are at ease and relaxed, let go of the leash. Your dog might stare at you with surprise. Leash-wearing for the initial few training sessions will allow you to grab it quickly if she gets out of control. It is also helpful when a dog that is not friendly approaches. These are the time to issue the command “Watch me.
Make sure that off-leash time is short initially. Short is defined as under five minutes. It is possible to gradually increase the amount of time depending on your pet’s age and grow more comfortable. As time passed, we were able to let the leash off entirely and let our dog stroll around us without a leash.
Keep a Leash Handy
I am sure you’ve read the entire article and the information, and you’re thinking, “Ummm, what, I need a leash?” To ensure your dog’s safety, it’s recommended to have a leash with you while you’re out, even if you do not ever use it. If the dog you are walking with is aggressive or you happen to be in an area of a park or cafe where leashes for dogs are required, you’ll be glad to have one on hand.
Avoid jerking or yanking on your dog. These are stressful experience that is frightening to your pet and could cause permanent damage to the neck and throat.
Many kennel clubs offer free drop-in training sessions. The classes are conducted by experienced trainers and allow you to train your pet in a safe and comfortable setting.
It can take weeks or even months to master a practical leash-free walk. Each dog is taught at a different rate; however, consistency, patience, and daily effort can speed up the process of training.