Letting off the leash
I took Alfie ( 14 weeks ) to the recreation park this morning, where I took him on Friday. As per usual we met other dogs and their owners. I got chatting to different people, and 2 of them said the same thing to me. Why don't you let him off his lead here? I said he is very young and Im worried he would get panicked by something and run off randomly, or even just chase after older dogs running free and not hear me calling him back..... even if he would come back. The reply from both was similar, do it now while he is young because he will be wanting to stay near you, and will run back to you if he gets scared by anything. One of them said if you dont take him off his lead until he is older, by then he will have become confident and not stick by you and then the problems start. Actually my vet also said this when we went for Alfie's second jab.
What is everyone's opinion on this please?
Diana and Alfie
Well I am not the most experienced in this area yet so take it for what you will. I can only speak for Toby. Right now when he is in the backyard off the leash he loves to play "chase me" and he will run away from you if you try to walk or run towards him. He is not great at listening outside yet either. He will come when he wants too. When he is not getting into something he shouldn't he will usually come but if he knows he is doing something bad he will not come to me.
With him picking up everything at this age I wouldn't feel confident to let him off the leash in just a park setting. I would be afraid of what he would eat. Now once Toby is vaccinated fully, we plan to take him to a dog park to let him run. I feel more confident there because it is fenced in and besides bad dog owners who do not pick up after their pet, there really is nothing he could get into that would hurt him.
Do you have baseball fields that are fenced in? Maybe you can go there to try letting him off the leash and see if he comes back to you when called or if he is having too much fun "away" from mom.
Just my 2 cents knowing my dog.
Puppies (or adult dogs for that matter) who are in a blind panic because they are being seriously chased by a big dog don't always run back to their owners - they may well run for home or for the car. I would be inclined to give Alfie more serious training on the long lead (minus the chain bit, which tangles him up). Let him play with other dogs and then call him in a firm but friendly voice and give him a gentle tug towards you and when he comes give him lots of fuss and treats. He needs to learn that 'Come' means come promptly whatever fun he's having - but also that it is worth his while. And don't only call him when it's time to go home - call him to you throughout the walk, praise and treat and then send him off again, perhaps using a release word like 'Off you go' - I use that at the beginning of the walk, when I make both of mine sit quietly and wait while I get off leads and check that it's safe for them to run free. Until he's really reliable, play safe. Even in a safe enclosed place, he's a friendly soul and if he sees a dog in the distance that he's met before and enjoyed playing with, he may well run to say hello and then you've got a problem - he could discover the fun of playing 'Catch me if you can'! Whenever possible, the cardinal rule in training is 'Never give a command if you are not in a position to ensure it is obeyed'. Contrary to your acquaintances in the park, I have never found that keeping a dog on a long lead until I'm really sure he will come when called has made him wander away when let off. By that time, obeying the command has (or should have) become an enjoyable habit - I still give mine treats as a reward for a quick return.
Kate, Oliver and Aled
Thank you both for the feedback. You have only really confirmed my own gut feeling. Just thought I would see what others thought. Thanks again. :)
I will not chase a puppy, for this reason. Instead, make some noise to get his attention, then turn and run away from him. He'll be at your feet in no time. Give him lots of praise and then let him wander off again (fenced areas only).
Originally Posted by gamefanz
Totally agree with Kate. I do not think your park acquaintances would find a single experienced dog owner or trainer who would agree with their very dangerous advice. :sl*p: Your gut reaction and doubt is 100% correct.
Also Soushiruiuma is right -- this is exactly what good trainers say. In an emergency if a puppy (or older dog) is running away the best possible way to get them to come towards you is to run away from the dog -- best way is kind of sideways, bent over and calling in a high voice and clapping as this tends to get them focused on you and to chase YOU instead.
A 14 week old puppy is way way WAY too young to ever be let off a lead. You need to be 100% certain of recall before any dog is ever let off a lead. Practice, practice practice and practice on a long lead, starting at home with no distractions and working up to outdoors in a safe park area well away from cars (and by that I would mean at least hundreds of yards) is the way to go.
Ian Dunbar and other trainers give plenty of advice on recall on www.dogstardaily.com or try the many recommended training links pinned in the Training forum here. :) Not one will give the advice of those people in the park, however.
Despite recall training I can never be sure Leo will return to me 100%. Because of this I don't allow him off lead when we're out. I still practice recall at home and in the garden as you never know I may need it one day.
But I dont think for one minute that Leo is "missing out" on anything when we're out for our walks.
I did let him off several times but found I wasnt enjoying our walks as I was so nervous he'd get lost. No point in that so now he's always on a lead.....like I said he still enjoys his walks just as much.
Good point. I will do this from now on.
Originally Posted by Soushiruiuma
I started recall training with my two the day they came home (if they never do anything else well I do want a recall). First inside the house, then in the (fenced) backyard and only then did we leave the yard. When we are outside off lead I will call them back often (and reward them). My rule is (and it's probably the rule I'm most consistent with because it's most important to me) that I call them once. If they don't come back immediately it is now a leash walk. I don't get angry, just call them once - go collect them (Max actually) if they don't come and snap the leash on. They never get off leash anywhere near traffic. Max has developed an obsession with squirrels so we don't even attempt off leash if there are likely to be any in the area. I'm not comfortable having a dog leashed in an off leash dog park so I wouldn't go there if I felt they needed to be on leash but I am 100% confident in both of their recalls away from other dogs.
I can only speak from my own experience but it wasn't until about 5 months old that Max even considered not coming when he was called - until then both of my dogs thought the sun rose and set on me. Rylie does have excellent recall except when I'm trying to call him away from hubby (he is a daddy's boy). He loves his people far more than any wildlife.
I've posted about this subject before, but Bentley just does not hear his name called when he's on a search, sniff & eat mission. He's now 8 months old and has been this way since he came home at 10 weeks. We live in a more rural area with several acres of land on 3 sides and a state highway on the other, about 700 feet away. The highway is our concern, of course. My 74 year old husband chased him all over a few days ago and when he alerted me to his problem I went to the garage, started the car, and Bentley came running as fast as he could run, thinking he could go for a ride. I don't want to overdo that tactic though. We attended a few obedience classes when he was younger but did not master recall at all!