How to walk your dog off the lead
In this article we outline some key things to remember when walking your dog off lead. Its a responsible activity, however it will become easier as you grown more confident. When walking your dog, the one thing that can bring so much joy is seeing them bounding around off the lead. Dogs tend to burn more energy off lead as they have the space and freedom to run around. If you have an over energetic pooch, off lead walking can be a great way to burn off some of that extra energy.
There are things to remember when walking your dog off lead, which we will cover in this article.
Can I let my dog off lead?
This is something you are going to have to figure out over time. Training your dog early on will increase the chances of controlling your dog off lead as they get older. Before letting your dog off the leash, you should consider whether the location is appropriate. Consider other people, are there small children who could be hurt by large bouncy dogs, are there numerous other dogs all on lead, are livestock roaming nearby or does the location simply not allow dogs off the leash.
Its also beneficial to consider the safety of your own dog. If the location you are walking has sharp cliff faces, rivers and rapids with strong currents or swampy areas then your dog may not be as aware of them as you. As you know dogs have a tendency to get rather excited when on a walk and cliffs edges may not be there first thought when run around at full speed.
There are some regulations about keeping your dog under control in certain areas and what is considered to be dangerous. It is important to understand the responsibility you have when taking your dog out only this way will you fully be able to learn how to walk your dog off the lead.
If you would like further information on the laws that keep your dog and others safe you can find them on the government website.
How to Improve Dog Recall
Dog recall is so important when walking your dog off lead. Early training can be vital to ensuring your dog is able to know when they are being called back to you. There have been many occasions when recall has helped us control our dogs. Being able to recall your dog can give you that freedom to let your dog off lead knowing that if you see livestock or small children you can call them back and put them on the lead.
When training recall to your dog, patience is needed, you must not expect a dog to learn something instantly. The fundamentals to teaching good dog recall is letting the dog know that coming back to you is a good thing. Reward based training such as using treats is the easiest way to ensure you build great recall with your dog.
If your training your dog recall from a young age, which is certainly recommended you should ensure your pup knows their name. When you are positive your dog knows their name begin training them, use a recall word or a sharp whistle. Choose areas that are closed off from others such as your garden, you don’t want any distractions whilst training your pup.
If you don’t have a private space to train or your worried about losing your pooch then long training leads are available and still work great. Make sure your dog doesn’t get tangled up in them whilst running about.
Sometimes you may find in the early stages of training your dog finds other distractions too irresistible to stay nearby, this is where your patience comes in. Taking your dog on lots of walks on the lead can help reduce their temptation to be distracted. If you take them to busy areas where there are lots of other dogs, they may get used to this environment and begin to understand they can’t keep running off to every dog in sight.
What to do if your dog gets off lead
Dogs being able to make some sort of Houdini act and escape their leash is more common than you think. Even of your dog is capable of getting off lead during a walk or managing to escape the fortress that is you garden, the same principles should be applied.
Firstly, resist the urge to chase your dog. Chasing is often misconstrued by the dog as a great game to play……. unless your Usain Bolt the dog is going to win.
Secondly, continue walking in the direction the dog went, remember to keep calling their name. This is where that recall training comes in handy. If you haven’t trained any recall, still call their name as they should recognise that. I find a loud whistle is a good way to get their attention and tends to travel a bit further than your voice.
Thirdly if you’re not able to find your dog, start contacting people you know in the area to keep an eye out. Notify any shelters or local animal control and social media is no a great way to make people aware. I see numerous dogs being found through social media, so this is a must if your trying to find your dog.
Some additional tips to keep your dog safe while off lead
Being able to identify your dog is important and making sure their information is up to date. Collars should come equipped with a dog tag that has your dogs name and your phone number on. Its best to have a couple of numbers on there to make sure the people who find your dog can contact you quickly. Depending on your dog they may be fearful of other people or overjoyed to see anyone and everyone. However, putting your dogs name on gives anyone who finds your dog a small bit of control and something that your dog can recognise.
Another important part of identity is your dogs’ microchip. In the UK it is now the law that all puppies must be micro-chipped and registered by eight weeks of age. Micro-chipping ensures that all owners can be identified as being responsible for that dog.
There you have it, some helpful advice for walking your dog off lead. Hopefully this will give you the confidence to introduce your dog to off lead walking the responsible way and give your pooch the freedom they deserve.