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Thread: WALKING OFF THE LEAD..AT WHAT AGE

  1. #1
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    Default WALKING OFF THE LEAD..AT WHAT AGE

    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......

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

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    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.

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    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.
    Sharon,
    Mom to Bleinham Cavaliers Lily, 5 years old, and Alfie, 8 year old puppy mill rescue.
    At the Bridge, Chloe, Lhasa Apso.

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    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.

    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.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Tansy : Mindy Connie Roxy Neasa Gus
    In memory: My beautiful Jaspar Lucy Leo Lily Libby

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    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

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    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
    cavaliers at the bridge Mattie and Rocky & Sam & Jake
    Better to light a candle for one lost dog than to curse the darkness of man's indifference. Saving just one dog won't change the world but it surely will change the world for that one dog.

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    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'.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Tansy : Mindy Connie Roxy Neasa Gus
    In memory: My beautiful Jaspar Lucy Leo Lily Libby

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    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.

    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.
    Charleen and Cav's: Pippin (ruby male), Merry (b&t female), Luke (blenheim male) & Jolly (tri male puppy)

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    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.

    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. 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.

    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."
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Tansy : Mindy Connie Roxy Neasa Gus
    In memory: My beautiful Jaspar Lucy Leo Lily Libby

  10. #10
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    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.
    Charleen and Cav's: Pippin (ruby male), Merry (b&t female), Luke (blenheim male) & Jolly (tri male puppy)

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