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Cody & Duchess

Off Leash - is this a goal?

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I think you're right to want to teach your dog to be off leash. It's like teaching your kids to swim without having to hold onto them. Will they have fun in the pool if you are always carrying them? Sure. Some kids may find that's all they ever want, or not ever care to swim much. But likely if your kids can learn to swim alone they'll have more fun and you'll have more peace of mind for times when they're close to water. Teaching your dog to recall off leash is as much about safety as fun.

 

As an interesting aside, our dog goes off leash in our yard which is not fully enclosed. We border the neighbor's yard who doesn't want him on 'his side' (we're in a ground floor condo) so we trained him not to pass the imaginary line - no problem. On the other side of the building he also has an imaginary line where he stops and stares when he sees something, but if a cat or squirrel gets within 20 feet he'll run across his line and zoom right back me as if "I didn't go to the road, so I didn't REALLY break the rules".

 

So, I'm not sure what 100% recall means or if all dogs can easily attain it. I know Truman will not run away whether it's a busy street or isolated area and if I spot dogs, cats or squirrels more than 50ft away he will stay with me until I leash him. But if the creature comes within 20-30 feet and is very tempting he will likely calculate he can make contact and zoom back without breaking recall. Because of this, city streets are not safe for off leash as 20ft could be straight into traffic. On a secluded trail though it's not much of a problem. And if we're biking he never leaves our side, so keeping him engaged does increase his dependability. So what I'd consider a safe environment off leash depends on where we are and what we're doing.

 

Interestingly we trained his recall as a pup on a 20ft line. That way we gave him some freedom while training recall in unfenced areas. It helped us train him where there were more distractions so I believe that contributed to his trustworthiness anywhere, but he also seems to think 20 feet is ALWAYS the limit :rolleyes:

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I've got a couple of questions about always keeping dogs on leash. First, how do you manage to give the dog sufficient exercise? For the first summer I had her, I kept Niki on a (long) leash whenever we were hiking (since she'd taken off from her previous humans a couple of times), yet with all the hiking & occasional running, I could scarcely get her breathing hard, even as overweight (72 lbs when I got her, down to about 65 after the first summer). Now she goes off-leash most of the time and has the ball slingshot to chase while I'm hiking, and has gotten down to about 50 lbs. (Of course everywhere we go is hiking trails & such, and she's on leash near roads.)

 

Second, for those who do sheep, doesn't that long leash get in the way?

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I've got a couple of questions about always keeping dogs on leash. First, how do you manage to give the dog sufficient exercise?

We're lucky in the fact we have approx 1/2 acre fenced in for our dogs exercise. Our lot is also on a hill so all of us get exercised when we're outside. (Now I just need to exercise the other parts of my body :rolleyes: ) BUT when JJ was an only dog, he still gained weight with all the frisbee/ball playing and the hiking we did because of his diet. When I changed his diet, not only did he lose weight, we were also able to take him off his allergy pills. His allergy pills also made him tired so once he no longer had to take them, he became more energetic which helped.

 

Second, for those who do sheep, doesn't that long leash get in the way?

Not yet. In fact, in a way, it could be helping Jake with his foot work. At his last lesson, he started using his back legs more when changing directions vs using his front legs. Of course, he could be (I hope) 'getting it' but being on a line hasn't gotten in the way. I'm anxious to see how he does at his next lesson.

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I dunno about this 100% "safe" off leash areas are lol, but I run my dogs in unfenced areas in the middle of the city without a problem, just look at my siggy..that one of the main parks I go too, there is no fence, its surrounded by 4 roads. people come to the park, people walk or ride past it, people walk dogs by it, somtimes there are people playing baseball on the diamond while I am there. not sure why any of this should be a problem, Ladybug is Deaf and I dont even have a problem with her. they knows the rules..they misbehave, the leash goes on and fun time ceases for that dog. doesnt take em long to figer out that other goings on in and around the park are none of their concern. all of my dogs will recall off of anything no matter how close. Happy I will walk in the street and sidewalks off leash, she is trained to pay no mind to other things, I reinforce that by getting her super focased on a ball, then purposely throwing it into the street, she wont run after it. ball goes in street, she will halt at the edge of the sidewalk, and wait for me to retrieve it. the way I try to think of it, is that I dont want the leash to be something I rely on, and I dont want freedom to be a novalty..thats how you get dogs running away! my pack is a perfect example..Rusty is my dog dog that I never allow off leash...he is also my ONLY dog that ever runs away. the rest of my pack dont bother. last summer I recall someone opening my side gate. my dogs were outside for an hour without supervision before I realized the gate was open...they never bothered to leave the yard.

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There's a time and place for everything. She obviously hasn't felt comfortable in the areas she's been with her dog. Even if it's the 'norm' in the area if the owner isn't comfortable with it, it probably isn't a good idea.

 

I agree with a time and a place. Silky gets a lot of off leash in our yard and at Bow Wow Beach, a dog park in Stow Ohio. She is at about 60% on recall, so I walk her on a retractable leash a couple times a day, I have seen dogs that always stay close and come when called get distracted eventually. I feel with a dog, the only thing that is 100% 100% of the time is their unconditional love.

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Yeah, I've been thinking. I'm not sure Buddy's recall really is 100% reliable... but it's reliable always in the places where I let him off leash. He doesn't chase deer, squirrels, or other woodland creatures - I think he knows he can't catch them and sees no point. He has no interest in approaching strangers or other dogs. He's happy to freeze and come to me if I ask him to.

 

And the places I take him aren't 100% safe. He could bolt and get to a road if he really wanted to - but he really doesn't see any point: the open woods and fields are where I am, and they're far more interesting than the road.

 

Mary

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I do not trust either of my pit bulls off leash in any casual situation (hiking, free playing, etc). They're both unsafe with strange dogs, and they both have a ton of prey drive, and if that gets tweaked there's no point in calling because they can't hear me. I can work them both off leash in an obedience situation, but unless actively engaged, I would not risk it. They both have recalls but not completely reliable recalls and their lives could hinge in the balance, so I see no point in risking it. They get their exercise in fenced yards (running together, working obedience/agility, playing flirtpole).

 

Steve is only 9 months old but at this point I trust him more than the bullies. He's so much more handler-focused, doesn't have anywhere near the prey drive, and if there is any chance at all that I might throw a ball, he's stuck to me like glue. He's also been highly rewarded for coming to me since he was a baby, whereas I only got the bullies as adults (and have learned so so much since I got them). At nine months and adolescent boy-brained I don't really let him off leash except to play ball behind work or at the lake, but I think that one day he would be able to hike off-leash, etc.

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