View Full Version : When is it safe for a dog to be let off lead?

14th January 2013, 11:40 PM
Here's an interesting post recently from the great dog trainer/author Patricia McConnell (if you haven't read he The Other End of the Leash, do!!).


She has some interesting comments and lots of wisdom in this -- a big question so many of us worry about.

And note the breed of the little puppy farm rescue girl she is writing about -- check the picture at the end of her post!

What do you think of her ideas on recall and off-lead readiness?

15th January 2013, 08:36 AM
I always had the advantage of an off-leash dog park for training. They were fenced in, although they may not have always been able to see the fence, and with plenty of fun distractions.

Guinness was truly always reliable (the first time I let him "off leash" I just let go of his leash) he was maybe 10 months old, poor thing thought I was trying to abandon him and raced back to me as soon as he noticed, then insisted on being carried the whole way back to the car.

Thistle I let off leash at a younger age, because she shadowed Guinness, so she benefitted from his trustworthiness.

After going around a bend in the path both heads will appear peeking around to make sure I'm still coming. It's one of my favourite parts of getting them out into the woods. Both dogs will come to me when called, I'm not sure they would be reliable for someone else though.

15th January 2013, 07:54 PM
Nice article!

Very funny about Guinness thinking you abandoned him! Those CKC do like us nearby!!

I practice recall with my 3 dogs (2 chin and 1 CKC) daily. They are always rewarded well upon a recall. So, letting them off lead is a non-issue for me. I know they will return when called. However, being practical, I never let my dogs off lead where there could be trouble -- such as near a street or around bigger dogs. They run freely in my yard (which is not fenced), and when we are in the woods. I will call the dogs back should I see another dog though. No use chancing an unprompted attack or a scare for them. Bosco, my CKC, has been off lead in the woods with me since around 10 months old and he has never disappointed (what a loyal pup!). My son and I did spend hours with him on recall before ever letting him off though. I guess as a rule of thumb, if you are in doubt, DON'T! I do believe that everyday practice with a HIGH VALUE treat is a must though if you want them to stop on a dime and come back.

16th January 2013, 02:11 AM
We're in our 70s, Bentley's our first house dog so we were true novices and probably did everything wrong. He's 2 years old now, very trustworthy in the potty area, and at last we're able to turn him loose. BUT, that's due to our moving last week from the country to a home on a small lot with a fenced backyard in the suburbs. It's heaven on earth to let him out the back door to potty while waiting inside in the warmth of the house! And, it's also gratifying to see him run back in, running full speed with his ears pinned back & his big fluffy tail flying. We've always wished he could be allowed this little bit of freedom but we just aren't ready to risk it unless he's in a fool-proof enclosure. We left him home alone in the new house for over 3 hours today and I was concerned that a potty mess might greet me when we got home. He had apparently spent the entire time in his bed and was happy to be let out to potty big-time! This was a good move for us to make at this point in our lives!

16th January 2013, 05:24 PM
Luke isn't allowed to go off leash outdoors. He was previously trusted, but he is no longer. He was off leash once, and he took off for a creek. He did stop when he reached it, because he wanted me to throw a ball in. He's far too brave for his own good, and there is nothing I can provide to him that is better than swimming (except to give him a ball while he's swimming). The closest he gets is on a long line and I'll drop the line and let him swim. My other dog gets trusted more. I never really did any specific training for her to be off leash, but she is very good. She will stop and coming flying back to me no matter what. She loves to go run and jump on people, but she will stop inches away from slamming into someone and come to me. When I come home with both dogs and stuff to carry, I let her out and send her up to the house. Luke doesn't get to do that.