I need tips on letting my dog off the lead...
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Thread: I need tips on letting my dog off the lead...

  1. #1
    geotob is offline Junior Member
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    Aug 2011

    DefaultI need tips on letting my dog off the lead...

    We have a 7 month old lab and we have started to let her off the lead when there is no one around. She has been doing ok but when we call her she doesnt always come back to us. We tried using treats which only sometimes works. She is better if I or my husband take her out on our own, but if my two boys are running around playing football then it is a different story. I just thought that it was because she is young and will get better. However over the weekend we took her to our local park very early. We were all playing throwing the ball everything ok. The next minute the dog just shoots off and doesnt stop running. She ran that far she reached the lake and went straight in. Once she achieved what she wanted to do she then remembered us and came back. I put her on the lead and made her sit and not join in playing with my boys. Once everything had calmed down I then let her off. After a good 10 mins she bolted off again only this time after a little jack russell. Luckily they just wanted to play but she was totally oblivious to me shouting her. When I got to her the other owner was ok and knew that she meant no harm but even he could not catch her to let me get her back on lead. It finally took my husband to come over and get the treats out. I think she had warn herself out and could not run round everyone any more. I dont want this. I want her to be able to run round with the confidence she will come back everytime I call. My husbands friends who have dogs says we should not let her off at all as she cannot be trusted. Can anyone offer any advice. Plus if anyone has any advice on how to stop her from pulling on the lead I would be grateful. This is another reason why I would like to let her off.

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  3. #2
    HersheyK's Dad's Avatar
    HersheyK's Dad is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
    Minnetonka, MN


    Here is one dog owners opinion. You wil likely get many.

    Recall is the single hardest command to get reliable.

    Long lead, 15-25 feet. Call, reward with high value treat an praise when he returns. Reel him in if he doesn't.
    Over, and over, and over, ....

    When you think he is reliable on the long lead, continue for a few weeks. Make sure.

    Then in a controlled area without distractions, your kids, or other dogs, try him off lead. Expect failure. Go back to square one. Eventually you should get surprised. I worked with hershey Kisses for over 5 months on recall. But.....

    It gets cold here in MN and I didn't want to have to go off tramping through snow and below zero weather to recover her if she decided to bolt. When we go into circumstances that I can not control, she wears a shock collar. I haven't had to press the correction buttons in over three years. Occassionally I have to press the tone button to remind her that I am talking to her.

    Recall takes time, and commitment from anyone that is going to recall her. HIGH VALUE treats are a real plus. Whatever she likes the most, but doesn't get for every little reward. Pieces of sausage or hotdog worked real well with Hershey Kisses
    Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.

  4. #3
    Sophiesmama's Avatar
    Sophiesmama is offline Senior Member
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    Jun 2011


    I am in the same boat. Sophie is fast! She gets loose and she is gone like a bullet! I know she knows to come when called, but she is obstinate and doesn't. We never let her off the lead when she is outside the fence. We even leash her from the door to the car. She is 7 months as well. She still wants to pull on the lead. She thinks its a game when we connect her leash. We have been making her listen and sit before we open the door. She does better with my son than my husband. She thinks its a game with him. He has been standing still and not moving till she stops pulling. Its work, but seems to be getting better.

    Sophie DOB 04/13/2011 6 mo

    8.5 mo.

    Sophie 15 months, with Skye

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  6. #4
    BauersMom's Avatar
    BauersMom is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    7 months is pretty young to expect her to have great recall. They are still very ADD at that age, especially when there are lakes, kids, dogs, and balls around. In my opinion, being off lead is the ultimate reward to a lot of really good training. My dog is almost 4, and has only achieved this reward in the last year or so (and only in an environment where I feel he will be safe). We go for off-lead walks/runs in the woods, fields, large school properties, and in an industrial park (when they are closed). I would never take him off-lead when walking near cars or people that don't expect an off-lead dog. Bauer has excellent recall which is important as we encounter deer, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, etc. on our walks. I know that if he does bolt after an animal, a quick "Let's Go!" will bring him back every time.

    I am not a great trainer by any means, but we did a lot of recall practice to get him to this point. First on a long leash where I could control him. If I called him and he didn't come back immediately, I would gently pull him in, then treat and praise. We did this with no distractions first, then with distractions (other dogs around, kids playing, etc.). When he was coming very consistently on-lead, we did it off lead. First with no distractions, then with distractions. It took a lot of time, but it is worth it.

    Heeling is also extremely important when off-lead, when passing other people, animals, etc. the dog should know how to heel and stay in heel until released. The dog should learn to heel on lead first, then they should be able to follow the same command when off-lead. When we walk at the school property we sometimes see other dogs/people. When we pass people or dogs that are on-lead, I make Bauer heel until we are past them.

    Bauer also knows 2 different levels of recall. When we tell him to "Come", he comes but he doesn't have to hurry. When he hears, "Let's Go!" He knows we mean business, and he better stop what he is doing and come IMMEDIATELY. He could be in a dead sprint chasing a deer, but as soon as he hears "Let's Go!" he will turn on a dime and sprint back to me just as fast.

    Good luck!
    Debi and Bauer
    Some people are like slinkies. Not really good for much, but bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

  7. #5
    SharonaZamboni's Avatar
    SharonaZamboni is offline Senior Member
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    Mar 2011


    She is young to be off leash. Bean did well staying with us in our yard until about that age, when he wanted to RUN and explore. He is now only off lead at certain times, and ONLY when he is totally focused on retrieving his balls. As soon as he slows down with a return, he goes back inside or on his long lead. I'm starting to think there may be a lady dog nearby that he wants to visit, which might be a problem with your dog not returning if she's not spayed yet.

  8. #6
    geotob is offline Junior Member
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    Aug 2011

    DefaultThanks for all the comments

    I am aware that Lucy is young and that is does take time for dogs to learn commands. We only decided to start letting her off because when we took her for walks so many people asked us why we did not let her off. We always replied about her coming back. I supposed it was pressure from others that encouraged us to do so. I think what I need to do is perhaps invest in one of the long leads as someone else on here said they use plus get some treats as she really loves running round playing football. About the pulling. The last few times I took her out as soon as she pulled me, I started walking backwards then when she was back with me I went normal again. It seems to be getting better will keep at it. thanks again.

  9. #7
    dweck's Avatar
    dweck is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    Don't let other dog owners press you into something you're not ready for. It's not THEM whose dog may be lost/hit/injured. It's yours.

    All of the advice above, I agree with. But I'l add this: START SMALL!!! Get your 6' leash and work recalls at a very short distance.

    Think about what you're training your dog to do: Recognize her name in the midst of some very appealing distractions. Stop forward motion. Shift focus from the bunny/soccerball/swimming/dropped icecream cone/whatever that HAS her attention and put that attention on you. Turn completely around. Bound happily toward you. Sit nice for either a collar attachment or a heel command.

    That's a lot. Especially for seven months.

    Work it RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE. Leave the dog in a sit. Go to the end of the leash. Call. Reel her in. Get her sitting nice and pretty in front. And then return to heel.

    Also know this -- People ruin the word COME by using it 1,000 times a day and never enforcing it. Come in the house. Come get in the car. Come, let me do your nails. Come away from that. Come on! Come out of the kitchen. Come into your crate. Come. Come. Come.

    Find another word for that spot-on recall. I use FRONT. There's no confusing it with anything else. It's easy to give. Easy to hear. Easy to praise. Watch out for HERE. Because that can sound like HEEL to a dog.

    Good luck. I'm working my own seven month old with the recall now, too, and I understand the effort. I also know the value in getting a dog to be able to run off steam at this age, so it's a delicate balance. It requires PATIENCE and PRACTICE. Use that 6' distance for all its worth. Then, link two leashes together and go 12'. Work it. Drill it.

    And also from above: Be ever diligent. Because no dog, no matter what expert trainers say and who's on television touting it, NO DOG is 100% reliable on a recall in 100% of the situations you may need it.

    Kelrobin Cleveland Street Denizen, CGC, RN [Parker]

    "Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence" -- IAWL Screenplay (1946)

  10. #8
    zoesmom's Avatar
    zoesmom is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    what everyone suggested....and also whistle training. The only place Zoe is off leash is at the beach and when she gets distracted,
    instead of me yelling ZOE COME!, I blow the whistle. She is 98% reliable, but if she sees her friend Bondi, she ignores me,
    knowing that Bondi's mom has treats for her.
    Linda and Zoë, the Umlaut
    Honolulu, Hawaii


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