How to Train Your Dog for Off-Leash Walks
It is very exhilarating and enjoyable to watch a dog running in an open field. It goes the same for the dog. It is immensely beneficial to get your dog adequate exercise for their physical health and mental health. It is also a key success in changing behavior.
For dogs that are lack of exercise, they are more likely to become unwelcome dogs in the family. In order to train your dog for off-leash walks, knowing the personality and temperament is essential. It is important that your dog is dog-friendly, human-friendly, calm, and has a certain level of discipline. The process of training a dog walking off-leash can be challenging if consistency and patience are missing.
Understand the basic command
Your dog needs to know the verbal marker “come” and perform accordingly with distraction before you start to process further training. Once your dog understands the command in a controlled environment, you can start to add distractions, for example, toys, treats, and other peoples, to test his limit.
Practice in a less controlled environment with more distraction
After your dog shows discipline to you in a controlled environment, for example, the garden at home, you can start to move to a fenced dog park so you can see how they behave when distractions are everywhere. If you are not confident enough to take off their leash, use a long leash to help you. It can give your dog a little bit of freedom at the same time you can focus on observing him.
Train your dog reliable recall
Even your dog is off-leash, he should still stay relatively close to you and frequently turn back or check out on you, sometimes return to you all the way. A fenced dog park is perfect for this practice. Whenever you notice your dog check out on you, you should mark the moment with the word “Yes” or “Good” and give them a toss or treat. You need to frequently reinforce this behavior with verbal praise and petting.
Play hide and seek
Another practice you can do in a dog park is to play hide and seek. You can occasionally hide behind a tree and brush to let your dog locate you. It helps the dog to keep in mind that you exist and he still needs to pay attention to you all the time. Not all the dog is suitable for this game, especially for those who suffer from separation anxiety.
Emergency sits and downs
During an off-leash walk and your dog might get into any potentially dangerous situation. Therefore it is important to train your dog an emergency sits to stop him from going there. Practice in short distance to ask him to sit during a walk and slowing increase the distance between you two.
Breaking the rule
Even if your dog behaves very well most of the time during an off-leash walk, he can still spot on a very interesting thing that he has not seen it before, for example, a squirrel. If you run towards him and scold at him right away, he is less likely to come back to you. If you are excited and joyful, your dog might find you have something more fun to go for. You should be calm and show him that you have treats or toys. Chasing him does not help the situation while turning away from him can instantly distract him from the danger. He will think that there is something more exciting on your side. When your dog finally comes back to you, you should still give him praise for coming back.
Once your dog knows the basic skill for an off-leash walk, he will longer pose danger to a driver, other dogs, and humans. You both are ready to go for an off-leash hike.
Training a dog to stay close can be a challenge, especially for breeds like Labradors with a strong prey drive. Our simple guide is designed for those who want to train their dog to be obedient and not run away when they're out on an off-leash walk.
Author: Dan Dan