Do you envy dog owners who are able to have a relaxing walk with their dog along the busy streets without having to put their dogs on any leash and was hoping that you can do the same for your dog?
If this is what you are hoping to achieve for your dog, it’s time to learn what needs to be done.
What You Need To Know
The fundamental requirements for your dog to be off leash is that he must have been trained in obedience and socialization. These training are extremely important to ensure that your dog knows how to behave himself and react in the desired manner when facing any stimuli.
You see, when your dog is not on any leash, you will have no physical control over him and the only way for him to react to you is through commands. This makes obedience training a must and necessity before you can have him off the leash.
And of course, if your dog is well socialized, he will not be easily agitated or aroused by stimuli and will know how to react to the situation. This will help to avoid any accidents from happening.
You need to train your dog to come to you no matter where he is and this is an essential part of off leash obedience training. This should be done in conjunction with positive reinforcement to reward him for coming back to you when being recalled.
In this post, I will share with you 2 approaches to train your dog without a leash.
Reward Based Boundary Training
The goal for this training is to make your dog learn about the boundary that he can roam and come to you when he is being recalled without a leash.
This approach works by training your dog to know the furthest boundaries that he can possibly reach out before he will be recalled.
What you would need for this training is a long leash, preferably 30 foot. This leash will be put to use on your dog during the boundary training and once he is well-trained on the boundary concept, you will be able to successfully recall him and manage how far he would be roaming without a leash.
The idea is for him to know the limit of these boundaries and once he reaches that limit, he would be called back. This will ensure that he does not roam around without any boundaries when you bring him out for a walk without a leash.
This is how you can carry out the training:
1. Start the training in a controlled environment (in your backyard) so that you can prevent any external stimuli that are going to get him distracted during the training.
2. Put him on a 30-foot-long leash and let him roam around as he likes as long as it’s still within the perimeter of the leash.
3. Use a harness with the leash so that when your dog gets to the end of the leash, he would not have that pressure around his neck.
4. As he is reaching the end of the leash, recall him back using his name as a marker clue “Dexter”. Make sure that your voice is loud and clear so that your dog can hear you. Use an enthusiastic, inviting and happy voice.
5. When your dog turns his attention to you, keep encouraging him using clues such as “Good Boy!” and pat your knees to make him come over to you.
6. When he comes to your side, reward him with a high value treat. This will create an association that coming back to you is more rewarding than making his way, and he would love to perform this action as soon as he hears the marker clue “Dexter”.
7. This will need much repetition for him to learn where the boundaries are. Initially, you would have to use the recall command to let him know that he has reached the limit.
8. As he is gradually being trained, he will know where the boundaries are and will roam within the limit or come back to you when he hears the “Dexter” clue.
9. If your dog doesn’t react to your recall command, you can still make use of the long leash that is still on him during the training. Just hold on to the leash but do not exert force to pull him back. Wait for a while and execute the recall command again to make him come back to you.
Remember to give him a treat when he does that to create a positive experience for him. This will make him feel the value of looking for you when his name “Dexter” is being called.
10. When your dog chooses to look at you on his own record, reward him if he comes back to you. At times, he may just want to check in with you before continuing his roaming. This is certainly a good sign as he is showing good impulse control behavior (looking at you for clue before continuing).
11. Once he is comfortable with this training, it’s time to increase his distraction. Do the training in a dog park where there would be many types of stimuli that are going to catch his attention.
In an environment where there are many distractions, you might need to increase the frequency of treats given to him in order to make him focus on you. Remember to keep the long leash on him till you feel that he is fully ready to go without any leash.
The goal of the training is to make him give up chasing any stimuli and remain within the boundaries or be by your side. This can be done by making him feel that you are more valuable than his stimuli. He gets high value treats from you when he stops the chasing action.
12. You can also have a dog who is already well-trained on off leash to “teach” your dog. He will get to stick around with this well-trained dog and watch how the well-trained dog reacts to the recall and the check in process.
Use of E-collar
Many dog owners will make use of e-collar (also known as shock collar or simulation collar) to help them with the obedience training on their dogs without leash.
This device serves as a communication channel between you and your dog when there is no leash to get his attention.
The e-collar needs to fit nicely and comfortably on your dog neck and the contact point on the collar needs to be against the dog’s skin so that he will get a low level of simulation whenever the e-collar is activated to get his attention.
The goal of the training is to associate low level of stimulation from the e-collar with some verbal clues to make your dog do some action which is typically the recall action.
This is how it works:
1. Have your dog goes to one corner of the yard to play with his toy
2. Stand about 30 – 50 foot away from him
3. As soon as you call out his name, press the e-collar activation to get his attention.
4. When you see that he is coming over to you, turn off the e-collar pressure
5. Remember to praise him extensively and give him a pat (scratches his ears) for the good job on recall. You can also reward him in a form of treat.
6. E-collar training is fun as it gives your dog confidence that he can make the pressure go away
7. Do not exceed more than 10 training per session.
8. Through repetition, your dog will learn that when he gets a sensation, it has to be from you and he will reach out to you so as to make the simulation stop and get the rewards (praise or treats).
Giving your dog that freedom to sniff and roam the house, backyard, dog park and even on the street without having to put him on a leash is certainly going to be a rewarding experience for him.
Many dogs suffer from stress and anxiety when they are on a leash and by doing away with it, you are certainly going to improve your dog’s quality of life.
But of course, you have to ensure that you are able to control him through other means (e-collar or boundary training) when he is without the leash to avoid any accidents from happening.