You’re NOT Ready For “Leash Walking” Until Your Dog Can Do THIS!

Here are the first things I ask my training clients to consider when they are wanting to make the leap to off leash with their dog:Is your dog spayed or neutered? Intact dogs often exhibit strong desires to roam and mate — it’s instinctual! The last thing you want is for your dog to — ahem — “get it on” with another dog they may come across while off leash.Are your dog’s ID tags and microchip updated? In case your dog gets lost or runs off, it’s so important to make sure that anyone who finds them can contact you quickly. Learn how to update your dog’s microchip information here.Is your dog fully vaccinated and on flea and tick preventatives? It’s important to protect your pup against parasites and the illnesses transmitted by these parasites while they are enjoying the outdoors. And in case your dog does run into a skunk or other wildlife, being fully vaccinated is essential to help protect against disease.Where are you wanting to take your dog off leash? City environments are, in my opinion, much too busy and unpredictable to be safe for a dog off leash. Rural areas can be a safer choice, but they have their own risks, such as wildlife or livestock. Using a long leash is one way to test out how your dog will do with more freedom on your outdoor and unleashed adventures. Long leashes come in a variety of lengths, mimicking an off-leash experience while still providing you with a safety line attached to your dog. Before your dog can safely join you for off-leash adventures, they need to have a rock-solid come-when-called cue. No ifs, ands, or buts about it! And when I say “rock-solid,” that means being able to come when called even when they are in the middle of chasing a squirrel.
When you first start training your dog to come when called, you’ll want to start easy and then work up to more difficult recalls. Begin inside, then practice room to room. Take it out into a fully fenced yard. Practice while you’re out on leashed walks. Use a long leash to mimic the feeling of being unleashed. Get your practice in any and everywhere, consistently rewarding your dog for coming away from different distractions