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June 24th

Off Leash Walking: Not Just for Dog Whisperers

Off Leash Walking: Not Just for Dog Whisperers

If you own a dog, chances are that you’ve seen others out with their dog walking around without a leash. You may have wondered how they could do such a thing, and that you couldn’t imagine doing that with your dog.

Walking a dog without a leash can be dangerous for your dog, if it isn’t trained properly. However, we want to tell you that it is absolutely an attainable goal for you to be able to walk your dog without a leash and have confidence in them always staying by you.

It might seem like a pipe dream to be able to walk your dog freely without a leash, but by following our steps, you should be able to do just that. Here’s some background information on how to walk your dog without a leash and what you should know before embarking on a journey to walk your dog without a leash.

Potential Dangers of Walking Without a Leash

Before we get started on teaching your dog to walk without a leash, it’s important that you understand the dangers of getting it wrong. Walking your dog without a leash is a huge leap that can be made, but it’s important to take it slowly to make sure that you have total control over your dog prior to trying it in a real-time environment where the stakes are large.

Cars

Driving cars nearby is an obvious danger to your dog that isn’t on a leash. If your dog is the type to run off without warning, they could easily be hit and injured by a car. That’s why it’s best to take it slow and learn in safer environments before moving to a full-speed environment with cars speeding by.

Other Dogs & People

If your dog isn’t socialized or accustomed to dealing with other people, it can create a dangerous situation when they meet off leash. Your dog, another dog, or another person can all become alarmed and tensions can heighten quickly. Try doing this in a spot with very few or no people at all at first to get some control over your dog before throwing them in a situation like this.

Wildlife

If you’re in an area with some wilderness, letting your dog off leash can create a dangerous situation if they encounter another animal. Animals in the wild are unpredictable, and dogs aren’t usually accustomed to interacting with them. So, even running into a small animal could  mean a dangerous situation for your dog.

Be sure to keep an eye on your dog when you’re in situations in which they could run into some wildlife.

Benefits to Being Off-Leash

While there are some dangers in letting your dog off-leash before they are ready, it’s also important to highlight some of the benefits of being able to walk your dog off-leash. With these benefits in mind, you and your dog will be more motivated to work hard at this skill because of all the good things that can come from it.

Exercise

When walking off leash, your dog can exercise in ways that they wouldn’t be able to when they are on the leash or in your home. They can run further, interact with other dogs, and do other things that give them more exercise and can lead to a healthier lifestyle for both you and your dog.

One of the most common things that people do with their dogs while they are off-leash is go to the dog park. At the dog park, your dog will be able to run around freely and get their energy out. They can also socialize with other dogs and people, giving them valuable experience dealing with new people and animals.

If you are looking for a great way to get your dog more exercise, bringing them to areas and activities in which they don’t need a leash to run around is a great way to do this.

Confidence

A dog’s confidence in dealing with new experiences is undoubtedly going to be affected positively by letting them run around without a leash. They will be able to smell and enjoy their surroundings a little more and experience a lot of new things.

That means that in the future they won’t be as apprehensive to meet new people, dogs, or be in different environments. This type of experience is vastly valuable for a dog and you should ensure to get them these types of experiences as often as possible.

If your dog has confidence issues or hasn’t experienced a lot of different situations, then bringing them to a calm or small dog park is a great way to begin. Before you know it, they’ll be coming out of their shell!

Burning Energy

With improved mobility and the ability to run around more, they are going to use more energy naturally. This is great for all dogs, especially those who are overly energetic. If your dog has a lot of pent up energy and needs to get rid of some of it, bringing them out off-leash to an enclosed park to start is a great way to ensure that they will take plenty of naps later on in the day!

If you’re looking for a way to let your dog get out some energy before going back indoors, you should definitely explore the world of off-leash dog walking.

Teaching Your Dog to Walk Off-Leash

Now that you’re sold on the idea of trying out off-leash dog exercise, it’s time to actually do the work required to get yourself there. Here are the steps that you need to take in order to make sure that you and your dog are ready for an exercise like this and that you can do it safely and effectively.

Establish Good Behaviors and Commands

Before you start to walk your dog without a leash, you should always make sure that both you and them have a good understanding of basic commands and you have a reliable amount of control over your dog. These will come in handy when your dog starts to stray or you need to reign in your dog quickly.

Make sure that you bring some treats to entice them in a last-resort situation and a clicker that you have trained them with. Make sure they understand which behaviors are good and which ones are not. Having a good amount of previous training is essential if you’re going to be walking your dog around without a leash.

Use a Long Leash to Start

If you want to create the feeling of your dog being able to run around without a leash but want to maintain some control, you should start training with a very long leash. That way you can practice commands while still allowing them to run around pretty freely. If they get too far away from you and won’t come back, you can always use the leash to reel them back in.

This is a great way to practice being off-leash without actually being off-leash. During this training period you can ensure that your commands are reliable and your dog is always obedient to you.

Practice at a Dog Park

Another great way to get in some practice without actually relinquishing all control over the situation is to let your dog off-leash in a dog park that allows it. In a dog park that allows this, you can let your dog run around and get exercise within the bounds of a park. Usually there is a physical barrier that prevents your dog from going too far.

If you are ready to take the next step and take your dog off-leash but don’t want them running around traffic, cars, and other hazards, then you can just take them to a dog park and let them run around while practicing return commands and other commands within the confines of the park.

What to do if Your Dog Runs

If you are going to try and teach your dog how to walk without a leash, then you’re going to want to be prepared for the possibility of them running away and disregarding your commands. This could be because they are hyper, have seen a distraction, or a variety of other reasons.

It’s important to know what to do in a situation like this so that you can quickly recover your dog and prevent them from getting harmed.

Remain Calm

One of the most important things you can do is to remain calm. Dogs can sense our moods, and if you escalate their excitement, that reduces the chance of getting your dog to settle down and come back quickly.

You should also not sound angry to your dog, as the dog will be more likely to avoid you. Be sure to talk in a calming voice when calling your dog back if they have run off despite your commands.

Use Treats

When commands fail and your dog isn’t coming back, one possible tactic that you can use to get them to come back is by showing them that you have treats. You can shake the bag or physically show them the treats to entice them into coming back to you.

Remember Your Commands

If your dog is running off, in addition to remaining calm, you should remember the commands. If you are walking your dog off leash, the chances are that you have already mastered some commands to get your dog to do what you want them to do. Remember to use your reliable “come” command in an effort to get them to return to you if they are venturing too far.

Don’t Chase the Dog

If your dog is running off, one of the worst things that you can do in an effort to get them to come back is to chase after them. By chasing after your dog, you’ll probably just encourage them to run faster and further way, which defeats the whole purpose. Your dog may think that you are just trying to play a game instead of trying to get them to come back to you. It will likely have the opposite of the desired effect.

Walk Towards the Car

Sometimes the most effective way to close the gap between you and your dog is to actually walk away from them when they start to run away. We know this sounds counterintuitive, but it often works.

By starting to walk towards the car or the gate of the park, your dog will know that there is something exciting going on and they will want to be a part of it. They’ll likely chase after you with the promise of a car ride hanging in the balance.

Being able to walk your dog without a leash is an enriching experience for both you and your dog and it’s a lot of fun, too! If you follow the steps that we outlined and take things slow, you should be there in no time.

Just remember to follow some simple precautions and be prepared for if your dog does decide to run off without you.

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About Uptown Staff

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