View Full Version : Not using a leash

Wrigs Mom
3rd July 2006, 02:01 AM
Hi, everyone! Now, that I'm back into the swing of things on this board, I thought I'd pose a question to you all.

How many of you do not leash your Cav when you go outside?

I have found that we tried this and poor Wrigs ran like a mad dog. Since we are completely obsessed with him and would cry ourselves to sleep nightly if he ran away, he is always on a leash now. Any advice or is it better to just keep these dogs leashed because of their curiosity?

3rd July 2006, 02:36 AM
Never let him off his leash ever....Cavaliers have a one track mind and once the have a fix on chasing something there is nothing to get their attention back....I tired letting King off leash 2 saturdays ago @ my cousins graduation party...i had success with him he stayed by my side or was near some1 so he didnt run....but that was the only time and will b the only time cuz otherwise King would run and chase watever he sees...So keep Wrigs on his leash to save u the trouble of crying urself to sleep if he ever ran away....Pretty much every1 here will pretty much say the same thing

Cathy T
3rd July 2006, 04:09 AM
I only let mine off leash in totally safe areas. Shelby is so bird crazy...she'll fly to try and catch one. Plus she gets so totally focused she doesn't see or hear anything when she goes into "bird mode".

3rd July 2006, 04:36 AM
i was talking to a friend about this the other day. It seems some dogs are off leash dogs and some are not. my frank who i had from 67 to 79 was the 4th dog i had in my life, and the first who didn't need a leash.

My first dog who i got when i was 9, my beloved Teddy (female) who we got at the pound when she was 2 months old, ran away from our front yard when i was 14 because she heard a firecracker go off. firecrackers made her terrified and she would start panting and get wild eyes, and that evening she ran off and didn't come back, that had never happened before. The next day a neighbor called my mom at her job at a local school where she taught 2nd grade, and told my mom that they saw Teddy's body lying on a busy street around the corner from our house. She was only 5 years old, such a sweet playful fun smart beautiful dog, a cocker mix with floppy ears, feathered paws and a long beautiful tail. she knew so many tricks and so many human words. it hurts to think about this.

But Frank was so different. In our 13 years together I never owned a leash. the only collar she ever wore was a flea collar. Frank didn't need a leash because she understood about cars and she understood about everything. Frank loved to run, she wouldn't just stay by my side, but she always knew where i was, from near and far. It was like an invisible retractable leash. There was never any need to worry that frank would get hit by a car. She could chase a cat but she would not run in front of a car while she was doing it. she knew when to stay at my side and when it was ok to run and explore far away. i never taught her this. she just knew.

My friend was saying how the two dogs he has now need to be leashed but the two dogs he had before never needed leashes. He said people used to criticize him for not having them on leashes but he would answer that those dogs always knew where he was and always followed him.

i wish zack could hang out wiht me without a leash, but walking him on a retractable leash, 26 feet, does give me that good feeling of being together with some freedom. the retractable leash has taught him to be aware of where i am and to run and catch up if i keep walking ahead. Meanwhile, it gives me the control to keep him safe. I never talk on my cell when i'm walking him. i want to be attentive to what's going on around us all the time, and where we are with each other.

He might do ok off leash for the most part, if i tested him, but i know that it would not be fool proof with him. no way i would take such a risk because it's clear that he is not that kind of dog.

I would like to know about cavaliers who are street smart and can safely be off leash like frank was, if there are any.

3rd July 2006, 10:25 AM
I think you need to know your cavalier, really well. Only one of my 3 cavaliers is trustworthy off a leash. They say to never do it, but my one cavalier (Pippin) is extremely cautious and timid and he is completely dependable off leash. He always comes when I call him too. I first trained him in the house to come and then worked on it with him outside.

The other 2 cavaliers - no way - never. They are the typical cavalier. Always curious and looking for fun. Merry is a butterfly chaser and goes a mile a minute and the few times she is gotten lose by mistake, she ran right in the road. Your heart stops. I just can't chance it with her. Lastly, I got Luke in May when he was 3 1/2 and the breeder told me never to let him off leash either. So I have complied.

3rd July 2006, 10:32 AM
I only let my three off in a safe area, but keep an eye out for anything around, they are quite happy to go and say hello to a new dog, but I will put them back on the lead if it is someone I do not know - they always come back but I really think it is a matter of training - I am sure that it is all dogs not just cavs that have selective hearing...... if you are not a 100% don't do it.

Bruce H
3rd July 2006, 10:49 AM
I would always have him on a leash unless he is in a fenced area. This breed is just such a free spirit and seem to have no concept of danger. Let me tell you what happened to some people who had 2 Cavaliers that were "good" off leash.

The family had 2 Cavaliers (1 from us) and we were babysitting for them. When they came to pick up thier dogs, I handed one of the leashes to the owner and started to put on one myself. The owner said "They don't need the leash, they are just fine without". Well, when she opened the door, those 2 dogs were GONE like they had been shot out a cannon. Across the street, through the neighbors yard and out of sight. We called and called and were walking and driving the neighborhood for a good 1/2 hour. Then all of a sudden they were back and sitting by the van wondering when they were going home!

It only occured to me later that we had been letting them run in the fenced back yard and they thought they could do that out front. So we now when someone picks up a dog, we insist they be on a leash or carry them to the car.

3rd July 2006, 11:29 AM
We always use leads to go in and out to the car, and to safe walking areas, but once there they are off leash. I watch them and keep a wathc for other dogs. If I see one I don't know, or they are on a lead, I put mine back on.

It's such a shame if they never get any free running, but safety is the primary consideration, you have to have somewhere safe to let them run.

We found playing hide and seek in th woods taught them to watch us and frequently return even if not called, gradually making it harder for them to find us.

Maybe try long lines that you can attach to a harness, so they can still have a run but you have a line on them?

Bruce H
3rd July 2006, 11:57 AM
BTW Kristen (and anyone else on this board), if you ever get out this way, stop by for a play date. Play date for Wrigs, that is :D

3rd July 2006, 12:05 PM
I think Charlie would probably be fine off lead as he never had a lead at his last home. They lived on a farm and would just let him run free in the field and he'd never attempt to wander. I use a long flexi lead though as I'm scared of losing him.

Maxx on the other hand would be a complete nightmare off lead :yikes . We had a GSD before him and would walk her off lead all the time - she was an angel who never left our sides but would walk along with her nose either attached to my hand or attached to the baby buggy or my eldest's hand - she was a failed Police dog who wouldn't bite so I guess that she was very well disciplined. Maxx on the other hand would chase any bike, car, child, cat, dog - anything he saw that he thought he could have a game with - life is just one big adventure for him :roll: Also being as he is almost deaf with PSOM he can't hear us when we call him! He's fine if he catches sight of us but you have to get him to look at you first :lol:

3rd July 2006, 12:18 PM
I strongly believe there are NO dogs that are always off-leash dogs (and it always seems to be a certain type of man, usually with a scary large dog, who believes there are :lol:).

However there are dogs who can be off-leash dogs *in some circumstances*. The best trainers in the world will tell you that few people on the planet have a dog with such self control and obedience that it could be trusted to never, ever take off after something and to always come on recall. All you need is the ONE time the dog doesn't respond to lose that dog forever. Why take the risk?

So when there are environmental risks such as cars, near roadways, anywhere in a city or town that isn't a safe park -- never, ever off leash. Once you are SURE your dog is very reliable on recall (and this is weeks of focused training in nearly all cases, working from short leads to extensas or recall leads to doing recall in a safe open area, then working up to introducing gradually, distractions) -- then the dog can be off leash in protected areas far from traffic. Some can never be trusted unless in a fenced area if they have a strong prey drive and like to pursue birds, squirrels etc. Some as in Bruce's example find themselves in a strange place and just take off, and have no landmarks to know where they are, and these are risk situations too.

I worked really hard with Jaspar then Leo on recall (both are excellent off-leash dogs in certain circumstances) but I have learned some hard and high-risk lessons about trusting them in situations where I shouldn't have -- either it was too soon for them to be reliable on recall or I failed to consider something very interesting to the dog might make him *totally ignore me*. I could easily have seen both killed in those situations.

With Jaspar, I was confident he would remain at heel and was over at the woman's house who minds him when I am away. He's been there many times. I opened the front door assuming he would stay at my heel but in excitment he bolted straight out the door and to my horror, out into the street, paying no attention to me calling him. There's a very high hedge in front of the house so I couldn;t see him and non ne driving past would see a small dog bolting out the door. The next thing a car came to a quick stop in front of Jaspar in the road. Fortunately it was a woman driving slowly or I've no doubt I would not have Jaspar with me now. I have never let him off lead outside on a road again.

I also now know Leo cannot be trusted within 200 yards of any pond or stream. He loves to swim and loves water and the first time I discovered this was when, out of the blue, he took off like a shot for the big pond in the Phoenix Park, which included running straight across an access road. I could only helplessly watch him grow smaller and smaller and I could see cars coming towards him. He could hear me calling but couldn;t tell where I was as I was so far away. A car started honking at him as he stood in the road and thankfully a kind man distracted him enough to get him off to the side of the access road (Leo is too shy to go to someone he doesn;t know so the man couldn't grab him, another problem!). Eventually Leo saw me and ran back. I never take the dogs in that direction now and always keep ponds etc on a side where it is safe for the dogs to run to them but I also put them on leads once I get within a certain distance.

Another example -- out of the blue Leo started chasing the deer in the park this spring. He had never done this -- I used to be able to walk them both right past grazing deer and they were I thought, totally trustworthy. Then Leo one day took off after them though they were hundreds of yards away and kept running. Not only was this terrifying as he could have vanished, but it was also stressful to the deer and worst of all, park rangers have the right to shoot a dog that is chasing deer in this way, and there was a ranger right there who saw this happen. I was mortified and panicky as well; Leo returned, but nowadays I put him on lead as soon as I see deer, as he can't be trusted.

I stress these were rare exceptions to about 98% reliability on recall (mine will never go off after other people's dogs for example), but that is all the more reason to be very cautious. You may think you know your dog and have control, but I promise that even if you have the best trained dog in the world there are situations that will arise in which you don't. Also recall (like all commands) must really be practiced/reinforced every week; it's not like the dog learns and then always knows what to do. I take treats on walks in the park and reward them for returning on cue. I worked very hard with Leo when I realised he had the tendency to run until he is out of earshot. Now he is quite reliable except in the situations above. I have also taught them the word 'treats' as sometimes, 'come' won't get a response but 'treats' will! I deliberately did this, to have a compelling backup cue to get them to return to me.

Finally, there's an issue of etiquette as well. I am really, really tired of people who have dogs that are not under voice control that follow mine around in the park or on walks in town and I cannot get rid of them. Or, where I have to stop and wait for 10 minutes while the person comes find their dog. Especially when they are big dogs and sometimes want to play aggressively. These are people whom I have no doubt would say they have their dog under control. :x

Many cities and towns incidentally have laws that require a dog to be on a leash even in open park areas (excepting dog play areas), so it's a good idea to always check the situation in your own area.

3rd July 2006, 01:23 PM
My dogs are always in a fenced in yard and even then my eyes are on them. If going somewhere out of the fenced yard they are always leashed. I love these dogs so much and if they were to take off , get lost or hurt because I didn't use a leash I would never forgive myself. There is always the chance one will take off even if well trained. Just not worth taking the chance.

3rd July 2006, 02:41 PM
Abbey is off leash quite a bit, and Gus is really learning from her to stay around. We have a partially fenced yard, and Gus is tethered outside until the fence is done. At the lake though, they're both off leash and do fine. Abbey doesn't chase anything except butterflies, and even then, her recall is amazing--she won't always come directly to me, but she always stops dead in her tracks and turns to look at me once I call her. I'd have to say recall is one of her strongest skills, we're very lucky, but then again we've been training her for almost two years straight. She loves to learn, and keeps her mind sharp and our relationship strong. :D I think a lot of people stop after basic obedience of CGC, but it is so beneficial to continue training/working with them so they stay stimulated (out of trouble...a board dog will find something to do, not a good thing), and responsive to you.

3rd July 2006, 02:59 PM
Jaspar is excellent too -- even at full run he stops and returns if called. Jen is right, the more work you do with your dog, the more it keeps cementing the training bond; the more reliable they are at everything.

I learned from experience not to over-trust the reliability of dogs in potentially risky situations and not over-trust my ability to recall them, so now I avoid putting the dog into a potentially risky situation, as noted above :) . Leo by the way now will return 90% of the time when tempted by water -- I do work with him in a safe, away from roads context to reinforce recall in exactly the context that he's most tempted in (never deer of course! but around water).

Extensa leads are good in safe park situations as you can give your dog a lot of freedom to move around but still have them safely under control. They are not generally recommended for walking in traffic situations -- it is easy for them to pop out of your hand and also for the catch not to be down correctly, allowing the dog to run into traffic. :yikes

3rd July 2006, 03:19 PM
Jaspar is excellent too -- even at full run he stops and returns if called. Jen is right, the more work you do with your dog, the more it keeps cementing the training bond; the more reliable they are at everything.

I learned from experience not to over-trust the reliability of dogs in potentially risky situations and not over-trust my ability to recall them, so now I avoid putting the dog into a potentially risky situation

Exactly, it's just not worth in in some situations to risk it.

3rd July 2006, 05:28 PM
You have gotten some really great advice here. Ours are only off leash in fenced yards or the dog park. Our previous dog, a dalmatian, was curb trained (would not step off one without a release) and was hardly ever on a leash. But he was exceptional and it took a long time to trust him. These little guys have no focus outside and all their training goes out the window when they see a butterfly.

3rd July 2006, 07:03 PM
I have two Cavaliers. Lacey, the oldest and brightest, I trust the least. Tilly on the other hand would never leave her mother's sight.

I know my neighbors must be smirking at me when I walk the dogs to the car to go somewhere. Lacey who has been enrolled in various obedience, agility and now canine freestyle classes since she was 4 months old always has on her collar and leash while Tilly, the baby (15 months), calmly trots by my side.

I'll never forget the day that Lacey as a young puppy darted out the front door, caught the school bus and went for a ride. That's what got the whole dog school thing started.

Bridgette, Lacey & Tilly

Wrigs Mom
3rd July 2006, 08:11 PM
So, from what I know of Curious Wrigs he needs to stay on a leash. We got one that extends a bit more so he likes that. He's just inconsistent, so I'm not going to take a chance.

BTW, Bruce.....we would LOVE a doggy playdate, but I think that might have to wait until we're ready for Cav #2. We wish Minnesota was a hop, skip, and a jump away from us :(

3rd July 2006, 08:33 PM
like people, dogs are so different as individuals.
my little frank who i had from 1967 to 1979 never had a leash on her. I got her when she was 4 months old, about someone gave her to me on the street as i was passing by), and from the beginning, she just hung out with me, she could go far away but clearly was keeping an awareness of where i was all the time, and would walk along with me, or run along while i rode my bike, and would wait outside at the store. She never had a day of training! she just knew these things, they came naturally to her. When i first got her, she peed in the house, she was not house trained and i'm sure no one trained her before i got her in any other way. she was just a puppy, but so smart in certain ways, and very people focused. She loved other dogs too. But no one could ever steal her from me. When she waited outside the store for me, if anyone would try to take her, she would bite and run away, and im sure she would come into the store looking for me. she was very friendly and gentle, and bonded with my friends, but when she would wait for me in the car, i'd leave the windows down and a couple of times, people she knew tried to reach in and pet her and she bit them. she was such a gift to me, the way she fit with my life at the time, and i with hers. it was a great match. we hitch hiked together, rode on the back of motorcycles together, slept at various places on the floor together.

she just never needed to be taught or trained any of this, recall was never an issue. she recalled her self. she would no more run in front of a car while chasing a cat than you or I would run in front of a car while chasing somethnig important to us--we would watch the car, wait for it to go by, go around it, and so would frank. it was a no brainer to her.

i never gave her rewards or treats for behavior. i just treated her like a buddy, talked to her, gave her what she needed.

my dog zack, he is like a normal dog. even if he is trained, and it will take a lot of ongoing training. like my other dogs before frank, he needs a leash.

once when i first had him and was running back and forth between work and vet appointments for his unknown illlness, i was pretty frazzled, and one day i rushed home from work, put him in the crate to take him to the vet, it was a double door carrier and i put him in through the top, and i picked it up with all my other stuff, backpack and other stuff i was carrying, and went down the stairs, and opened the door to the outside where the car was, and tilted the carrier down toward the front because his weight made it tilt, and unknown to me, the front door was not latched and he went sliding out. He immediately ran down the driveway to the street, i remember how joyful he looked, "oh boy!" I was shouting his name, he looked over his shoulder and kept going, right straight out in to the street. There was a car coming but fortunately driving slow, and they stopped as he ran right in front of them, me chasing behind--while the people in the car sat and watched, smiling, zack made a right turn and started running right down the middle of the street with me galloping behind calling his name, trying to sound friendly and appealing. finally, i got the bright idea to sit down on the ground and call him, he had already veered over onto the side walk. I sat down on the concrete and called him merrily, in a happy high pitched voice, "Here Zackeeee!!" :D :D
and he came to me and i was so relieved, holding him in my lap and hugging him. but also, feeling freaked out inside by the overload of problems at that particular time, late for the vet appointment and geting back to work, and zack running in front of a car because the carrier door was open. :yikes

ah, memories..... he is the perfect dog for my life, and i hope he feels the same. Honestly, sometimes i don't feel worthy of him, his sweetness is so overwhelming. my appreciation of him surprises me, i thought when i got a dog i would enjoy it, but i had no idea how much.

Bruce H
3rd July 2006, 09:05 PM
BTW Judy, I love it that you had a female dog named Frank.

Long ago I had a male cat named Molly. Diabetes finally got the best of him at about 14 years old.