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Discussion Starter #1
How did you guys teach your dogs to go off leash and not run off?

I'd like to be able to go to the lake and let my dog go swim but she takes off. I'd also like to be able to take her to the larger dog park but it's not fully fenced (has a large gap instead of a gate and it's 16 acres so she could get away from me if I'm not standing right at the entrance all the time)...

I'm just wondering because I see other people with their dogs at the lake all the time playing and having fun and I'm jealous as h*ll because I have to have her on a 20 foot line and a harness so she can swim and not run off. She's SO self-confident and independant that she has no fear so when we're out and about, she's GONE if she's not on a leash.
 

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How is your recall? If your dog is not returning when you use come, your dog isnt ready. My dogs big thing was distractions, so I took her places where the only distraction was the environment, she never ran off then because nothing was exciting except the smells and me... I worked on my commands at that location and other new locations to get a strong recall. Once I had that, I am now more confortable with off leash activities. We are also e-collar users so we can give corrections at any location at any distance...
 
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Ok, I wondered if it was a recall thing or a bonding thing or what. I'm working on the recall thing. Once we have it down in the backyard I'll go back to long line recall in other environments and keep working on it. I guess this is the downside of getting an older dog rather than raising one from a pup.
 

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Yes...continue training the recall. That is the only way you are ever going to get your dog to come back to you off leash. There are a million topics covering the recall on this forum and many different methods of teaching it. Take one that you feel would work best for you and your dog and stick to it.

Just a thought, but most dogs don't run off for no reason. They run off because they are disracted by something be it an interesting scent trail, another dog, a bird or whatever. Some dogs are much easily distracted than others and this is often is a problem with young Labs. Try and make yourself the most exciting thing in your dogs world. Think of it from the dogs perspective; what is more interesting? you...shouting at her to "come" waving your hands about or the other dog across the field that is up for a game? my advice would be to arm yourself with treats, toys and whatever your dog is motivated by and really interact with her while you are old walking. Throw the ball, talk to her, praise her, have fun. If you are having fun she is having fun and she will be much more inclined to stick by you. :)
 

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Yup, recall is definately the thing. Once I was comfortable with Rider's recall, I worked him off-leash. I love being able to walk him without a leash.
 

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BudGirl8 said:
I guess this is the downside of getting an older dog rather than raising one from a pup. 
Not necessarily.  I've had my pup since 8 weeks and she's now a year and a half and still not realiable on recall if there is something more interesting around. (and at times that can be pretty much anything)  I feel the same way as you....how nice it would be not to have to have her on a leash or a long line all the time.  We keep working on it but sometimes I wonder if reliable recall will ever happen.  :-\ If she sees another dog forget it...there is no way no matter what I do that I'm going to be able to make myself more interesting than another dog...not right now anyway.
 
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Yeah, she's VERY "hunt" motivated (I don't really know how else to describe it). Nose to the ground tracking rabbits, squirrels, birds or whatever else she can chase. I'm interesting, and we have fun, WHEN I can get her to engage with me, even on a walk. Treats are good, frisbee is good, ball is good, lake is good, her friend Bailey is good...but man...when it comes to freedom...there are things to HUNT.

Nevertheless, we are doing about 10 minutes of long line recall work in the morning and at night, always ending with a good experience (i.e. a good retrieve, and give me the dummy instead of tug of war) and if I sense I'm losing her before the 10 minutes is up I stop once I get that good experience even if it's only been a couple of good retrieves. I get the strong feeling that her independant spirit and self-confidence may be working against me in this case, as she may never be THAT interested or dependant on me that I can rely on her to stay with me off leash.

I'll re-read the other threads on teaching recall as a refresher and get to work ;D
 

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Yeah, she's VERY "hunt" motivated (I don't really know how else to describe it). Nose to the ground tracking rabbits, squirrels, birds or whatever else she can chase
Take advantage of this. Having a dog that is hunt/smell oriented can be bad in some respects but with the right training you can really use this to your advantage. Rather then 'normal' retrieves (you throw the dummy, dog sees where the dummy lands and fetches it), create a number of different retrieving scenarios to keep her stimulated and focused on you. Try tethering her up and tossing a few dummies into long grass and have her hunt for them. You can also try laying a few scented dummies down (blind retrieve) that she has not seen you throw for her to hunt. The emphasise here is making you a major source of fun.
 
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Hmm. I know they have deer **** scent at Bass Pro, maybe they'll have rabbit smell too. That would GUARANTEE her searching for it. I tried getting her to search for kibble and that was something she lost interest in pretty quick, but rabbit...now that's a sure bet!!! hehehehheh
 

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Sounds like a great idea. When I was over in the States during February of this year I went to Bass Pro and got some quail and pheasant scent as it is hard to get over here. Putting scent on a dummy is definitely a lot more exciting for them.
 
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OH! I'll have to try it then, I didn't realize they had bird scents too. I should've known they would. She loves the birdies...thankfully she doesn't catch them...
 
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