Happy Tongue Out Tuesday friends!
I’ve been receiving a few questions about Kaya’s off-leash training and how I get her to walk on “heel.”
I’m still working hard on her training and haven’t yet achieved the ideal off-leash obedience. But as long as I’m making progress, I believe I’m on the right track and I celebrate small daily achievements. I think persistence and patience are the keys to success.
I’ve met a few well-trained dogs, they do several tricks, but I continually listen to their owners frustrated that they don’t listen when called and easily get into trouble when they’re off-leash.
Off-leash training is one of the most important and time-consuming canine training. The transition from on-leash to off-leash control is a critical success factor.
So I’m going to share with you a few tips I wish I had known and started when Kaya was still a puppy and I hope I can help you in some way.
GETTING STARTED OFF-LEASH TRAINING
Taking any dog off the leash, especially in a busy, crowded area, or one with a lot of traffic, is a big step and not one to be taken lightly. It’s important to test your dog in a safe environment before taking him off his leash.
After all, the leash is the main instrument of control. You must be absolutely certain you can rely on your voice commands for control before removing the leash.
MY FAVORITE DOG TRAINING TOOLS:
1) Dog Clicker
StarMark Clicker Dog Training System is the one I use – I like the tone of the “click” it’s loud enough to emphasize the good behavior and doesn’t sound hollow.
I love this training pouch. This training accessory has been one of my favorites for a while. You can easily carry pet toys, kibble, treats and your personal items.
In addition, it has a convenient built-in dog poop bag holder so your dog waste bags are ready right when you need them.
Outward Hound Hands-Free Dog Leash is one of my favorite training accessories.
I use it to run with Kaya and also to train “loose-leash walking” and “heel”. This belt is fantastic – the pockets hold all my gear (phone, treats, keys) and also has a water bottle holder and 5ft leash included.
OFF-LEASH TRAINING: ADDING DISTRACTION
After the dog has been trained to understand the sit, stay and come when called commands, it’s important to challenge the dog with various distractions.
It’s a good idea to start by introducing other people, other animals, or both, while the dog is in a safe environment like a fenced in yard.
Have a friend or neighbor stand just outside the fence while you hold your dog on the leash. As the friend walks around the outside of the fence, watch your dog’s reactions closely. If he starts to pull at the leash, quickly tug him back.
Repeat this exercise until the dog will reliably remain at your side. After this, you can try dropping the leash, and eventually remove the leash and repeat the distraction.
It’s important to vary the distractions, such as introducing other animals, other people, traffic, rolling balls, etc.
OFF-LEASH TRAINING: ADDING DISTANCE
After your dog is able to remain still in the face of distraction, start introducing the come when called lessons with distractions in place.
Try inviting some of the neighbors, and their dogs, over to play. As the dogs are playing in the fenced in yard, try calling your dog.
When the dog comes to you, immediately give him lots of praise, and perhaps a food reward. After the dog has been rewarded, immediately allow him to go back to playing.
Repeat this several times throughout the day, making sure each time to reward the dog and immediately allow him to go back to his fun.
WHEN IS IT APPROPRIATE TO GO OFF-LEASH?
After the dog has seemingly mastered coming when called in his own yard, try finding a local dog park or similar area where you can practice with your dog.
It’s important to make the area small or to choose a fenced in area, in case you lose control of the dog.
If you can’t find a fenced in area, choose an area well away from people and cars. Practice with your dog by allowing him to play with other dogs, or just to sniff around, then calling your dog.
When he comes to you, immediately reward and praise him, then let him resume his previous activities.
Doing this will teach the dog that coming to you is the best option and the one most likely to bring both rewards and continued good times.
Only after the dog has consistently demonstrated the ability to come when called, even when there are many distractions around, it’s safe to allow him time off leash.
OFF-LEASH TRAINING: CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Off-leash time should never be unsupervised time.
It’s important, both for your well being and your dog’s, that you know where he is and what he is doing at all times.
It’s easy for a dog to get into trouble quickly, so you should always keep an eye on him, whether he is chasing squirrels in the park, playing with other dogs, or just chasing a ball with the neighbor’s kids.
Practice, stay calm and consistent and your pooch will get it eventually. And remember to always have fun!
How about you? Are you having trouble mastering off-leash training? Share your experience with us in the comments!
*This post contains affiliate links for products I love. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. For my full disclaimer, please click here.*