The issue of how to train your dog to walk off leash is a pretty interesting one. We say this because dogs are pretty instinctual and sometimes their instincts could override their training. So, training your dog to walk off leash could be pretty risky.
However, who says all risks are bad. Life is full of risks and we have to take some of them to enjoy life. So, let us help you train your dog to behave even when they are not leashed.
Start With A Longer Leash
Yea, we know you are trying to teach your dog to behave without being leashed but like with every other habit, it is important that you do not just do a clean break.
You have to start with what the person (or in this case, dog) is used to and slowly wean them off such.
So with your dog, start training them with a really long leash (say between 10 and 20 inches) in a really large yard. You want to make sure that your dog has more than enough room to roam.
Now, when you have your dog on a short leash, you instinctively pull on it in addition to giving them a command when you need them to do something.
As a result, your dog will find it difficult to remember the training when there is no contact between you two.
With the really long leash, the instinctive pulling will not affect your dog. So, you could train them to run within a defined area and come when you need them to, all while being in control of the situation.
Incorporate The Training Into Your Dog’s Everyday Life
While you might have a specific time for your off-the-leash training, incorporating the training into your everyday lives makes it so that your dog is used to these things.
Your dog should be off-the-leash while at home, right? So, why not use that opportunity to teach them to teach them boundaries, respond to you when you call and stop when you say so?
You want to start the training indoors and only move to training outdoors when your dog has mastered the great indoors.
If you are a seasoned dog owner, you must have learnt that punishments are not the way to go with dogs. Negative reinforcements only make them either really aggressive or really anxious.
On the other hand, positive reinforcements are a good way of telling your dog that what they are doing is the right thing. So, think of those things that your dog really enjoys like toys and treats because you’ll need them.
Now, you want to use these toys and treats as a reward and not a lure; there is a difference. If you are using these things as a lure, you are basically dangling them in front of your dog expecting them to come and get the lure.
The lure method doesn’t teach your dog to do what you ask; it only feeds their instinct of going after what they want above everything else.
On the other hand, the reward system teaches them that there is a reward for good behavior.
So, you do not tangle the treat or toy in front of them; instead you encourage them to do what you want them to do and give them a reward when they comply. With time, they’ll get the message.
Taking Care Of Distractions
But of course you cannot get rid of every distraction. However, teaching your dog to ignore distractions is important if you are going to have a successful off-leash experience.
To do this, you have to be aware of what poses a distraction to your dog. And if you have a puppy, it could really be anything.
When you are sure you’ve identified them all (or as many as you can), you can start to train them to come when you call them when they are faced with those distractions.
Now, instead of bombarding them, what you want to do is train them one distraction at a time. That’s not all, you want to train them to avoid these distractions in different settings.
That is, you’ll be training them to avoid one distraction in different settings and do the same with all the distractions.
To better understand all we’ve been saying, watch this dog trainer take the beginning steps to training his dog off leash.