Training Your Dog to Walk Off Leash
By Caitlyn Gose
There are many reasons as to why you should train your dog to walk off leash. The major one being that your dog cannot get adequate exercise while on the end of a leash. If you don’t have a big backyard for your dog to run off their energy, they are more likely to develop behavioral issues.
However, having your dog walking off leash has to be done appropriately. If you have a very energetic dog and you just take them off the leash, they could run into the road and get hit by a car or run away and get lost. There are many risks for both you and your dog if not done properly.
It’s always important to take your dog’s personality into consideration when starting to walk off leash. Are they more laid back and mature? Or are they wild, excited, and anxious? Some will require longer training than others.
Important Cues to Teach Your Dog BEFORE Training Off Leash:
Recall (and check ins)
The very first thing you want to teach your dog when training for off leash walking, is a recall. You need your dog to be able to come back to you no matter what situation may be going on. Choose a specific word, noise, whistle, or even use a clicker or training collar to make sure your dog knows to come to you whenever they hear it. (When they come to you while training, always reward them with treats!) If your dog happens to start chasing an animal or another dog starts a fight, you should be able to use your recall and your dog should have no problem coming back to you.
Make sure you are practicing your recall once it’s learned! Let your dog wander off a little and then use your recall, they should come right back to you. Check-in regularly with your dog by using your recall, get them used to hearing and obeying it. (Still rewarding with treats!)
Ps. Here at Adeo Pets, we sell our “E-Collars” that are great for teaching off leash walking recalls. Plus, they range from ½ mile all the way to 1 mile! They are safe and humane, as they don’t use the “blunt” stimulus like that of a normal shock collar.
You can find our E-Collars here: https://www.adeopets.com/collections/e-collar-technologies
Sit & Down from a Distance
After your dog knows their recall and can respond to it adequately, it’s time to teach them sits & downs from a distance (these can sometimes be more effective than recalls!). It’s easy to teach your dog to sit and lay down when they are right next to you, but doing it at a distance can be trickier.
Practice at a short distance at first, not too close but not far, and cue your dog to sit and/or lay down. Remember to always reward them with treats when they do the right thing! Then keep working from farther and farther distances, until your dog will sit and lay down right on cue, from wherever they may be.
The walk-away behavior can be very effective in times of emergency or seeing something hazardous up ahead (such as an angry dog or a snake in the path).
To do this, simply turn in the opposite direction of which you were walking and tell your dog to “walk away!” When they follow you, reward them with treats and keep practicing it until they get the hang of walking away. Make sure you are always walking away with them, and rewarding.
After your dog has gotten these cues down and can perform them well, you can now begin actually taking them off the leash! Like stated before, keep in mind the personality of your dog.
If you have a more mature, low-energy dog, they will most likely stay close to you in the beginning and will be easy to work with. Whereas if you have a high-energy, excitable dog, as soon as you take the leash off they will bolt. If your dog is high-energy, begin the walk on the leash until they have calmed down a bit. Once they are calm, make sure they are paying attention to you by doing your recall, telling them to sit, and practicing walk-aways. If they are successful in keeping their attention on you, reward them with a treat and then slowly take their leash off and keep walking normally.
ALWAYS pay close attention to your dog, watch how they react to their surroundings. If they end up trailing too far along, use your recall and reward them when they come. If they are getting too anxious or out of hand simply use your recall, reward them for coming to you, and snap them back on their leash until they are calm again.
Only start this process when your dog has demonstrated that they can obey all of your commands, or else you are putting your dog, and/or yourself at risk!
Remember, every dog will train differently and require a different amount of time to get their cues down!
Caitlyn is a painter, bookworm, and freelance writer from Southwest Michigan. She comes to Adeo Pets with the desire to teach others about pet safety and health. She has a deep love for animals and wants pet parents to have all the answers they are looking for! Check out her work at www.cgosecopywrite.com.
- Sep 01, 2022
- in Pet Blog