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Off Leash Training: "Stay Close" (or "With Me")


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I'm looking for ideas on how to train my dog (in a formal way) to stay in close proximity to me when he's off leash.

 

As of right now he's got a good recall, listens well, stays in sight and checks in often. He will also walk "in line" (our loose heel) when I instruct him to. Honestly, he's got a lot of great off leash skills, but I'd really like to train a command to stay within a certain radius (let's say 10 feet) without having to be in a heel. The problem is, if he isn't in a heel he's usually zooming around like a maniac. I can keep calling him back to me but he'll run up, "check in" and then zoom off again. <_<

 

I'm curious if there is a step by step way to train this behavior. I looked online but didn't have much luck... any ideas or training video links would be much appreciated!

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What does he do if you put him on a 10-foot lead? I might try doing uncued loose leash walking on a long line - no heel commands, only negative punishment (you pull, we go nowhere). Once he's keeping the leash loose, let him drag it a while and add a release word to let him go out further - fetch with a ball would be a good way to lure him out. I might then try a cue transfer from the long line (and the act of putting on the long line) to a 'stay close' command.

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Like your idea of a loose heel-type command or "stay close". I'll watch this thread with interest for all suggestions.

 

I've been getting-by with a "wait" command. My border collie usually (not always) runs out in front on walks. I adjust the bubble as needed at abrupt turns in the road/trail, sharp ridge tops, or thick trees/vegetation, and such, using the "wait", along with a recall if needed. She stands still until I catch up. Not exactly the same concept you have in mind.

 

We are doing fairly long drives and outruns, therefore, for us, training a "stay close" would concern me a little. Could a limited radius become the default? Would a stockdog become confused or tentative when it needs to cover a flank on its own initiative? At Josie's age and experience, a command for a 10 ft. radius would probably not bother her, yet for a young/inexperienced dog, I am not so sure. A stockdog trainer we worked with early-on asked that students not train obedience and stockwork concurrently, although not all instructors adhere to that. Just something for stockdog handlers to consider.

 

Please keep the thread posted with your thoughts and progress. -- Best wishes, TEC

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I've been getting-by with a "wait" command. My border collie usually (not always) runs out in front on walks. I adjust the bubble as needed at abrupt turns in the road/trail, sharp ridge tops, or thick trees/vegetation, and such, using the "wait", along with a recall if needed. She stands still until I catch up. Not exactly the same concept you have in mind.

 

This is exactly what I do as well, along with sometimes calling him back to me and having him walk "in line" for short stretches when needed. I don't mind making lots of adjustments like you are saying, I think it keeps him thinking and engaged, but it would be nice to have a command that just keeps him in a certain proximity that's not terribly difficult or arduous for him.

 

 

We are doing fairly long drives and outruns, therefore, for us, training a "stay close" would concern me a little. Could a limited radius become the default? Would a stockdog become confused or tentative when it needs to cover a flank on its own initiative? At Josie's age and experience, a command for a 10 ft. radius would probably not bother her, yet for a young/inexperienced dog, I am not so sure. A stockdog trainer we worked with early-on asked that students not train obedience and stockwork concurrently, although not all instructors adhere to that. Just something for stockdog handlers to consider.

 

I share this same concern. That's one of the reasons I want to try to train this as a formal command. I really don't want his default to become that he can't walk more then 10 feet away from me at anytime. We've resumed herding lessons and the last thing I want to do is accidentally train him that he always has to be 10 feet or less away from me. I'm looking forward to hear what others think about this; both whether it's a good idea to train it and, if so, tips on how to train it.

 

 

 

What does he do if you put him on a 10-foot lead? I might try doing uncued loose leash walking on a long line - no heel commands, only negative punishment (you pull, we go nowhere). Once he's keeping the leash loose, let him drag it a while and add a release word to let him go out further - fetch with a ball would be a good way to lure him out. I might then try a cue transfer from the long line (and the act of putting on the long line) to a 'stay close' command.

 

Thanks, D! This seems like a good place to try to start!

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Our "with me" is about a 5-7 ft radius. I just said "aht ah" when she got further away than I wanted and "yes" when she was back in the radius I wanted. Meg figured it out very quickly. She takes off like a rocket when I use our release word. :)

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Our "with me" is about a 5-7 ft radius. I just said "aht ah" when she got further away than I wanted and "yes" when she was back in the radius I wanted. Meg figured it out very quickly. She takes off like a rocket when I use our release word. :)

This is exactly what I do. My "aah aah" is followed by a thigh tap if my dog doesn't immediately move back in range, and the leash after that if the dog isn't attempting to figure out what I want. Most of my dogs have figured it out very quickly, but a couple I had to wait until they were older and try again before they got it. Maturity and focus play a big part in mastering this idea.

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This is exactly what I do. My "aah aah" is followed by a thigh tap if my dog doesn't immediately move back in range, and the leash after that if the dog isn't attempting to figure out what I want. Most of my dogs have figured it out very quickly, but a couple I had to wait until they were older and try again before they got it. Maturity and focus play a big part in mastering this idea.

I do this too, but my dog continually wants to push the envelope. I could spend the whole walk using Ah-Ah and patting my leg, but my dog will stay close for about 10-15 feet, then forges forward again. I like the technique of putting him on a leash if he doesn't pay attention. Hopefully that will get through his dense brain.

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I have been working on this skill, we have a great recall and a good close walk (not a more formal heel) but I would like him to know when it is ok to do your own thing but not more than 20ft away. The lack of this is a direct consequence of how we walk, it's either on a leash or off a leash when he is free to run, but we are moving and he will have lots more opportunities to be off leash but in a controlled way, not the woo hoo way he gets now. I will try just hooking the leash up, there is to much nasty stuff on the ground, between the geese and the winter lack of poop collecting to have a drag line.

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I do this too, but my dog continually wants to push the envelope. I could spend the whole walk using Ah-Ah and patting my leg, but my dog will stay close for about 10-15 feet, then forges forward again. I like the technique of putting him on a leash if he doesn't pay attention. Hopefully that will get through his dense brain.

For Gideon, putting him back on leash always works. He is mortally embarassed that I think he doesn't know something and has to be treated like a puppy. Micah takes a bit more convincing. Micah is the one that I had to wait for him to mature a bit before he got the concept, and he still won't cooperate with my husband because he knows there is no consequence. Back when I had GSDs, they seemed to learn this pretty naturally. They had a certain radius that they stayed within on their own for the most part. Sometimes you had to show them what that radius needed to be.

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