Off Leash Training
I just wanted to gather some opinions about training a reliable off-leash dog. Eventually I would love for Coco to enjoy parks and hikes off lead with me...but currently she tries to run up to any person or other dog and ignores all commands no matter what. If she is on leash, she is perfect, never pulls, and responds to commands very eagerly, even on our long lead. Off leash, she does not want toys, treats, or even praise from me...sadly she has learned she is free off leash.
Woops I meant to post this in training!
She should never be off leash anywhere that is not enclosed safely (eg fenced) until she is reliable off lead and you should not expect this until she is considerably older (eg probably around a year old after months of continuous training and daily practice and reinforcement). Especially at her age as she is still barely a baby and absolutely can NEVER be trusted off lead anywhere that is not enclosed -- puppies can bolt and simply will not have the attention span or training to have reliable recall. it takes weeks to months of training a reliable recall, working from indoors to outdoors using a long line.Again, Ian Dunbar goes into this in detail in After You Get Your Puppy. Plus all the links stickied at the top of the training section will have sections on how to train reliable recall -- it is much better to use a professional trainer's expert advice as well as to enroll her in an obedience class(that's why I stickied awhole set of excellent training links :) ). Cavaliers in particular are at high risk off lead in any area remotely close to traffic *regardless* of wether they have good recall -- they are not afraid of oncoming cars and are easily distracted by things to explore and chase. Far too many die in road traffic accidents. Please do not allow her off lead unless you are in a safe enclosed place.
As this is a training question I am also moving it over to the training section. :thmbsup:
Use a caribiner to clip the leash to a belt loop. That'll free up your hands, without having to let her run loose.
I don't know where you hike, but mountain lions and other predators can pick off a dog (even large dogs) very quickly, it's best to keep her nearby for her safety.
although your recall, after long time training, is perfect, I would strongly recommend never to let your cavalier be off leash, unless in an area where she really cannot come to any form of harm.
cavaliers are easily distracted, and like hounds, never quite reliable.
my 4 grown cavaliers are all very obedient, their recall is perfect. they almost turn in midair, when they hear my whistle.
but i never let them off leash unless i am quite sure that they can not get near anything that can harm them.
Leo is really good when we're out and about but I NEVER let him off the lead. I know many owners on here do but its just personal opinion that I cant fully trust him not to think like a Cavalier and bolticon_whistling
Be really sure you are safe to let your little one off lead and that they are in an enclosed space.
I have a "recall" lead for Leo when we're in the forest that is very very very long and that gives him enough freedom to have a really good explore but I still have him connected to mecl*p
I agree with the above. My two do go off leash but only in areas that are safe. When we are on an off leash walk I do a lot of recall practice. My dogs get one chance to come on the first call. If I have to call again or go and get them they go back on the leash. They don't get scolded and I'm not angry but if they can't give me their attention it's not safe for them to be off leash. Max is usually on leash these days because squirrels and rabbits are too much of a distraction for him.
That being said neither of them ever had an opportunity to go off leash until they came to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I called them in the house and in our fenced yard. You have to build up the distraction level slowly to set them up for success because you never ever want them to think they can ignore you. When Max was about 5 months old he decided that he didn't need to come when I called when he was in our yard. He spent five days only going out on a leash. I haven't had him not come when called in the yard since then (he's 2 1/2 now).
Originally Posted by Mindysmom
Very good advice, thanks! I like the idea of the punishment for not coming during practice to to go back on lead, not mad or anything. It seems the dogs will figure out on their own that they made some sort of boo boo by losing the free reign of the area!
And don't worry everyone, I only take my little one off lead at the dog park or out in my yard :) I would just love to go on a trail or to a beach when we go camping and trust her off leash.
What are your thoughts about e-collars? Not the shock kind, but one with a tone and vibration? Cavies are so sensitive I think a vibration to help get attention back would be good....thoughts? And of course this is just a thought for after a dog has had a lot of recall training around distractions and what not first!
That's the thing - going back on the leash isn't punishment - just a consequence. I've also practiced recall with my guys every single day since I got them. My Golden was a bolter and I wanted to know that Max and Rylie would always come when called.
Personally I would only use an e-collar if I thought it was a matter of life and death.