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View Full Version : WALKING OFF THE LEAD..AT WHAT AGE



spannerman
6th January 2007, 06:21 PM
Hello all......At what age does your dog tend to calm down while walking off the lead?
I see lots of people with cavaliers and they all seem to be very good when let off the lead....Our Mickey is younger than these other dogs, he is only 7 months old and while he is very good on the lead, once let off, he sure is a pain to get back. His recall is excellent at home and there is no shotage of walks and an active life. He seems to be distracted by everything despite many hours of training. I wonder if it is just his age......

:D He sure is a wonderfull dog......[/b]

Zippy
6th January 2007, 06:31 PM
Cavaliers sure are wonderful doggies!

I would never let mine off leash, they have NO sense of danger at all as they are bred to be fearless.

We've found that our two are also very easily distracted by birds, squirrels and cats....etc.

They wouldn't hesitate to run after anything that moves....another drawback.

Our Charley also only came back if it suited him...when we called him, he'd just "take it under advisement"!!

The *only* circumstance where I'd let them run free was if I was in the country with a large estate. Doubtful that'll ever happen....lol

This doen'st include being in our backyard. :flwr:

Shay
6th January 2007, 06:40 PM
I will never let Lily walk off lead. From everything I have read about Cavs, they should never be off lead. They like to chase things, and have no sense of traffic. I'm sure that some do walk off lead, but are probably very well trained. At 7 mos. old, I wouldn't chance it. The one time Lily got away from me by accident, she ran like the wind straight to the street. I was horrified and every time I would get close to catching her, she wold run like a rabbit. It was very hard to catch her. Thank God we live on a cul-de-sac, but as luck would have it the very infrequent car was coming down the street. All turned out well, but I would never take the chance.

Karlin
6th January 2007, 07:04 PM
When you say his recall is fine at home, do you mean in the garden or in the house?

Most dogs will be fine in such bland envionments with no distractions. The obvious goal -- and the real meaning of 'recall' -- is to be very sure your dog will come back to you despite distractions in the real world. :thmbsup:

Just as an aside, 7 months is only a young puppy -- way, way, way too young to expect recall. Most dogs can really only begin to focus on something like recall starting around 6 months and you might spend many months working towards a point where you would know your dog would always return when off lead in a safe area (meaning no traffic nearby).

Obviously there are huge safety implications to recall -- making it the single most important thing you teach your dog. That's one reason why this is really the kind of thing best worked on in a rewards based, well taught obedience class. Most dogs (and their owners!) need the structure of being able to do other, simpler things in obedience before they can move towards increasing reliability at recall. Recall is always taught in a safe environment -- so a home is a good place to begin on your own -- but obviously is not the environment you really want your dog to return to you in. Hence you need to go train where there are more distractions.

An obedience class again is ideal as the location is (or should be!) protected and safe, but there are lots of distractions -- other people, other dogs, and noise. This is why a class is so valuable -- your dog will learn to do all sorts of things *despite* distractions and these build up the dog's ability to concentrate and your ability to train with confidence too, despite distractions.

Outside of a class, you should be working with the dog in a safe park area well away from traffic, with the dog always on a long line (you can use a flexilead for some early practice but the lines aren;t very long and they aren;t particularly safe -- the handles can pop out of your hand very easily and most trainers advise they be used with caution and never near traffic). Many pet shops sell long lines or sometimes people use the ones used for training horses. Something like a 50 foot line that clips to the dog's collar is good. You allow the dog to wander away, recall and reward/praise, over and over and over. If the dog ignores you, you can reel the dog in gently and reward so that -- as is always important -- the dog NEVER has the opportunity to hear a command and ignore it. A dog under 1 does not have great concentration (another reason a young dog will not be reliable on recall -- they just forget, or easily get distracted, much like teaching kids!) so training sessions shouldn't be longer than about 15 minutes.

The advantage of a long line is you can take your dog to areas where there are more distractions as he becomes more reliable -- near other dogs, or children playing, or people walking.

A dog of any breed should never be off lead near traffic unless you want to run the risk of death -- even the most well trained obedient dog has a very hard time controlling chase behaviour if a cat runs across the road, it sees an interesting dog across the road, or scents something -- eg a female in heat, something to eat, something really smelly and interesting -- it wants to reach.

IMHO people who walk cavaliers off lead near traffic are running ridiculous risks. I see them all the time and know from experience that this is one breed that is particularly poor at dealing with traffic as unlike some others they do not even seem to have a basic fear of oncoming cars. This is actually *bred into them* -- the breed description for all CKCS clubs worldwide describes them as 'fearless'. Not good when they are facing three tons of steel at high speed.

Pepsi
6th January 2007, 07:05 PM
I've only had Charlie since he was about 7 years old, but he's always been as good as gold off his lead. Charlie always looks up and checks where we are (although he's quite blind nowadays and sometimes goes running after the wrong people! :) ). I definitely think that dogs get a better walk off their lead as they can go where they please and have a bit of a run. Charlie definitely enjoys his walks a lot more when he gets to run free, and to be honest I feel a bit sorry for dogs who only ever get walks on a lead.

As I've never had a puppy (yet!) I'm not sure at what age they can be trusted. I do think you should try it at some point (though maybe not yet). Obviously you need to make sure it is really safe and secure and nowhere near busy traffic.

Good luck,
Pepsi x

BTW, once Charlie took himself off for a walk, and before we even realised he was gone he was coming back down the garden path, then he went upstairs and plonked himself in the bath :lol:

matties mum
6th January 2007, 07:05 PM
Barney ,Sam,Jazzie all go of lead now they have got good recall but that is only when we go walking in the fields on the roads round were we live they all walk on the leads ----Aileen

Karlin
6th January 2007, 07:09 PM
Great training sheet on recall:

http://deesdogs.com/documents/reliable_recall.pdf

All mine are fine off lead in controlled (eg non traffic) areas -- and I continue to work on it with them all the time; sometimes grabbing a handful of treats (like cat kibble) -- and as we walk I'll recall them by name and reward, recall and reward... they enjoy it and it keeps the command fresh. They need practice and reinforcement to remain reliable. :)

I can tell you 80% of dogs (at least) that we meet on walks are not good at recall and often will not leave mine alone, following us for half a mile sometimes, and I'll have no idea where the dog came from. Or you can hear someone calling and calling from a distance; so annoying to have to curtail MY walk to return their dog because they have no control over their dog but still allow it off lead.

Which reminds me -- NEVER punish the dog when it ignores you but eventually you catch up to the dog or he decides finally to return. Punishment teaches the dog that returning to you is the wrong thing to do and deserves punsihment. Even if you are furious, count backwards from 20 as you walk to the dog to defuse your anger, then cheerfully praise when the dog finally returns. Single biggest mistake people make in teaching recall!! You have to think in dog logic -- dogs unlike kids don;t understand your explanation of why you are angry, they just associate 'return to owner' with 'punishment'.

Charleen
6th January 2007, 07:13 PM
I know a lot of people say not to let their cavaliers off leash, ever. But I think it depends on the cavalier. You need to know your dog and your dog must be very well trained to come when it is called.

I'll speak from the experience with my 4 dogs. I never let the dogs off leash unless they are very far from any road.

Pippin has always been cautious and very obedient. I started taking him on walks in the woods when he was 10 months old. I had a vizsla at that time and so he modeled the vizsla. Never ran away and always came when called. At that time I didn't know about cavaliers being flight risks. ;)

Merry, my next cavalier, is a crazy woman. She cannot be trusted off leash in the yard. She has run into the road more than once. She doesn't come when called, if she is off leash. The only time it has worked out well, is on a walk in the woods, IF I have Pippin on a leash and Merry off-leash. Then she will stay with us and come when called. She obviously loves Pip more than me. :lol:

I got Luke at 3.5 years old. The breeder told me never let him off leash. He came to me not knowing anything accept being housebroken. In the first few months I did all his obedience training. Then after 5 months of living with me, I had a better assessment of him. He absolutely adores me. He won't take his eyes off of me. So this past October I took him for a walk in the woods and he was fabulous. Never strayed and came when he was called.

Jolly is 6.5 months old. He cannot be trusted. Since he was 4 months old, I have been working on all his obedience commands in the house. However, if I do not have treats, he will not come. I won't let him off leash outside and he is too young yet for me to tell if he will be like Merry or like Luke & Pippin.

Karlin
6th January 2007, 07:23 PM
Charleen, I still wouldn't trust them near traffic. I'd have said Jaspar was 100% reliable til one day he decided he loved going swimming so much that he bolted a fourth of a mile across the fields to one of the ponds where he swims -- which just happens to be across a road. :yikes :yikes

Likewise Leo is 99% accurate -- except 1) if we get near some muddy ditches or ponds he likes to go into or 2) he cannot hear me or see where I am or 3) sees deer. He does not, I have found, have good directional hearing (but it took time to realise this! It is not obvious) and I have watched him take off after someone else he sees at a distance in the opposite direction from me, because he thinks it is me. :yikes Very scary. He now has been taught hand signals for recall but that depends on him looking towards me to see it.

All it takes is the one time and both Jaspar and Leo have come close to that one time. Also, dogs change -- something they ignore safely for a year (eg deer, for Leo) suddenly prove a temptation one day and the dog bolts, with potentially tragic consequences. To me, not worth the risk. So, never near traffic and be sure you know your dog and its temptations inside out before allowing him or her off lead and keep in mind new things you did not expect can always arise. Also it is useful to have a backup word for recall -- eg mine all snap to attention and come running at the word 'treats!" so I have been known to use that for recall. Whatever works. 8)

PS What is the most common comment I get as people sheepishly come retrieve their dogs? "Normally he never does that." Or: "That's the first time she's ever done that." ;)

Charleen
6th January 2007, 07:38 PM
Karlin, I totally agree with you about the traffic issue. I don't let mine near the road - ever. If we are close to any road, I put the leashes on.

My comments were about very safe areas such as in the backyard or in the woods or on hiking trails. I don't tend to go to parks, because where I live dogs are not allowed in parks off-leash. There are no dog parks either.

Lisa_T
6th January 2007, 07:49 PM
I just want to echo about NOT punishing a dog who fails to recall.

The people behind my grandmother are quite elderly and not in the best of health. They-for some reason known only to themselves- got a Cocker puppy. The Cocker is a little younger than Holly, so it's now full grown.

Anyway, apparently a couple of weeks ago the guy took the dog over to the fields to play for a while, which the dog loves. Tried calling Buster back. Buster decided he didn't want to come back, and the guy effectively threw up his hands and walked away. Which is fine to a point- often pretending to walk away will make a recalcitrant dog come running. Only this time he meant it, and carried on walking home. The cocker whizzed past him, across the road, and sat waiting for him at the gate of their house.

The guy thrashed the dog for not coming when called. I can't tell you how FURIOUS I was about this. It's mainly a generational thing.. and frustration.. and illness (guy has been treated for cancer) but even so. I wish to goodness they'd rehome before that poor dog's temperament is totally destroyed.

Barbara Nixon
6th January 2007, 08:03 PM
A training club I attended, had a demonstration from the owner of one of the first dogs to compete in obedience, at Crufts. Although this man's dogs were excellent workers, he said he would never risk them off lead in a none secure place. He said there could always be the unexpected for which you cannot plan.

I follow this rule and have only let mine off in fenced woodland, fenced in parkland ( I don't use either of these places now, because of incidents with other dogs and also the risk of theft), in the public park and on a small grassed square near home, the latter two cases being to work with only one dog and that dog, Joly or Izzy, being a reliable worker.

spannerman
6th January 2007, 09:47 PM
Mickeys recall is in the garden and around the house. Its a shame that we can't let him off the lead as dogs do seem to have more fun when left to their own freedom. I am glad for all replies to this subject as we were wondering if our dog was just being badly behaved.He really is a superb dog. We have never punished or shouted at him.

Before hand we had a Beagle and the recall on that dog was totally non existent...........


Cavaliers sure are wonderful doggies!

I would never let mine off leash, they have NO sense of danger at all as they are bred to be fearless.

We've found that our two are also very easily distracted by birds, squirrels and cats....etc.

They wouldn't hesitate to run after anything that moves....another drawback.

Our Charley also only came back if it suited him...when we called him, he'd just "take it under advisement"!!

The *only* circumstance where I'd let them run free was if I was in the country with a large estate. Doubtful that'll ever happen....lol

This doen'st include being in our backyard. :flwr:

Charleen
7th January 2007, 12:01 AM
I know what you mean about no recall on a hound. Your beagle sounded just like my bassett hound. I had her for 14.5 years and way before she went deaf, she never ever came when called. She would pick up a scent and off she went. Thankfully, she only strolled off, so I could always catch her.

Mary
7th January 2007, 12:16 AM
I have a fenced in yard thank goodness. My basset hound Savannah...when called looks at me and says "unh" and walks the opposite direction. She has also taught Jasmine the cavalier to do the same. Only Jazz looks and runs with a big grin on her little face!

WoodHaven
7th January 2007, 12:37 AM
I have had cavaliers that took advanced obedience classes-- I NEVER fully trust a cavalier offlead-- it isn't worth the risk. We've talked about this before and more than one person has had close calls. I've know people whose cavaliers were hit by cars-- again,,,, not worth the risk. fwiw Sandy

*Pauline*
7th January 2007, 12:44 AM
Karlin, that training sheet on recall is really good. I like the idea of making it a game with a few people in a circle. I'm going to try that. I think recall is probably the most important command, everyone in the family should learn it as I think sometimes dogs like commands from one person if only one does the training, everyone should have a go. :flwr:

molly
7th January 2007, 01:29 AM
3 of mine have a really solid recall with distractions. I still wouldn't trust them off leash except when they are in a fenced yard or dog park. My 7 year old is almost 100 percent reliable. And yet he slipped out of his collar one day on lead and walked right out in the street following a cute little girl. IMHO letting them off leash is just not worth the risk.

Cathy T
7th January 2007, 03:44 AM
My guys are never off-leash except in completely protected areas. It has to be an area I've already canvassed and know well, not near any streets. Shelby is a bird dog and once dashes out of the park (un-fenced) and across a street to get to the birds on someone's lawn. Thank God there were no cars...otherwise....I don't even want to think about it.

Both of mine have somewhat decent recall, but definitely not something I trust them with and it is most definitely not 100% reliable. Like Zippy said...they tend to take it under advisement...and if there's nothing else to grab their attention.

merlinsmum
7th January 2007, 01:25 PM
My two ONLY are off the lead in safe areas - the "lodge" where we walk is an old resevoir that has been drained so you walk really along the dame and around it. All entrances are gated and there is nowhere for escape :D

I have let both of my off the lead here since they were little - Merlin ws always afraid to go any further than a bout a meter away and although he has got more confidence now he still doesn't go to far. I constantly recall them both so they don't associate coming back at the end of the walk. Little Oakley has picked it up so well, but then again he has a very good role model to follow. I'm so glad I had a well behaved obedient one before getting a new puppy ;)

Cathy Moon
7th January 2007, 02:20 PM
When we bought India and Geordie, we made an agreement with their breeder to never let them off lead in a non-secure area, and she also required that we have a securely fenced yard/garden so they can run freely in a safe place.

estertje
7th January 2007, 02:44 PM
I wouldn't leave a cav off lead! They're way to curious and to distracted to notice any danger!

murphy's mum
7th January 2007, 02:48 PM
We are quite lucky where we stay as we have lots of goods forest and hill walks. Murphy has been allowed off the lead in places like this since he was 4 or 5 months old :D
He had completed his kennel club good citizen course first, and we had always let him run on his extending lead, calling him to us and offering him treats when he came. When he's off the lead he never runs more than a few meters in front, then he stops and looks back or runs back to us. We never let him off his lead unless we've been over the area a few times and know it well :dgwlk:
None of these areas are near roads, except one but there is a gate at the end of the walk before the car park. We NEVER EVER allow Murphy off the lead near any roads no matter how quite they are. He will sometimes try to step onto the road when he's on the lead if he sees something or someone :yikes
He LOVES chasing birds, and although we've never had any mis-happs, its just not worth the risk :(
If he's at the beach he will runs for ages after all the birds, and 98% of the times will come as soon as called, other times I need to call a few times but then he's only 10 months and constantly learning

Cicero's Mummy
7th January 2007, 02:51 PM
IMO:

No dog, unless in an enclosed area, should be off the lead. There are leash laws here in Ohio that actually say, your dog must be on a leash unless in an enclosed (fenced in) dog park where it is up to owners discretion.

AT
7th January 2007, 04:10 PM
The few dogs we have had from pups were let off lead soon after they started going out ( in safe area's of course) That way being off lead was never a novelty to them.