We are planning a long weekend at a friend's home in PA for Memorial Day weekend. They have a lot of property (I'm talking ACRES) and I know they will let us bring Shelby with us and encourage us to let her off her leash. It's a very rural area, they are not on a main road, but there is no fence. She will be over 5 months when we go, and we are working with her on "come" and "stay" and she's doing really well, but I'm scared she's going to take off and not come back. How should I handle this? I've never had a dog before, and I don't know how to make myself comfortable with her being off her leash. Thanks in advance.
Start making her chase you. Go somewhere you can hide from her. As soon as she starts to loose attention on you, hide behind a tree and start calling her, load, whistle, etc - be consistent. When she finds you, praise, praise praise, ball, treats, etc. It will teach her to pay more attention to you and like it.
I think it's important for them to have some off leash time as well. If you can work somewhere fenced first make a game of it like gerst001 was saying. You can even have someone help you and one person call her and praise and treat then have someone else call her and treat and praise. This way she doesn't generalize and think she only has to come to you.
My parents have some open land and Mocha does great there she pretty much just stays close to us wherever we are.
<br />Barbara, Mocha, Zeus, & Smeagol
Thanks to you both. We have a decent fenced back yard so we can work with her there with both of your suggestions. I appreciate the advice.
Do your friends have dogs? If there will be other dogs playing that will not run away, your pup will most likely stick around the other dogs. If you're uncomfortable, I would not let your dog off-leash. You can buy a 40-50 yard line and let your pup drag it around while playing; at least that way you'll be able to reel her in if she starts running away (if you can catch up with her). I think your friends should understand why you don't want to let your pup running loose and should not insist on your risking to lose your dog.
No, they don't have any dogs. Their neighbors do, and cows and a little pond so that adds to my anxiety a bit. The plus is that my nephews will be there and I'm sure that Shelby will be pretty interested in playing with them so that might keep her close. I may bring the line up with us just in case. As far as the friends understanding, they are actually the parents of my sister-in-law's best friends who are older and very opinionated. LOL. Getting them to "understand" what I do with my dog will be like getting my grandmother to understand why I let my daughter use a pacifier. LOL. Although...maybe the dog will distract them from critiquing what we do with our daughter now that I mention that (because I'm sure they will) Thanks ;D
She may suprise you. My dogs come off leash from the first time they can go out for a walk -- 12 weeks old. A puppies natural instinct is to stick with its owner. The first time you take a puppy out for an off leash walk, 95% of them will be literally glued to you. It is only when they are older and their confidence grows that they start wandering off and exploring.
I think the best thing to do is just give it a try. Your friends land sounds fantastic, and more to the point, it sounds safe as it is not near any roads. Arm yourself with a long line (if she is really terrible off leash you can put her on the line), lots of treats and her favorite toy and hopefully she will be fine. Remember, it is not natural for a people oriented breed like a Lab to bolt of into the blue for no reason. Keep calm, keep your eye on her 100% of the time and interact with her and I am sure Shelby will prove you wrong.
Thanks. You're making me feel a lot better about letting her off her leash there.
Let us know how it goes.