photo credit: John Schanlaub
Off leash training is an advanced type of obedience training for your dog. There are a few steps that you will want to take to ensure training goes smoothly. In this article, we’ll look at these steps including knowing when your dog is ready, choosing the right equipment for training, where the best place to practice is and what you should expect.
Make Sure Your Dog Is Ready
As a dog owner, you shouldn’t even think about starting off leash training until your dog has mastered basic obedience commands. At a minimum, he should know come, down, stay, sit and heel. Of these, the come and down commands are of vital importance. Your dog must immediately come when called, and drop to the ground with the down command. To attempt off leash dog training before knowing and fully following these commands could prove to be not only frustrating, but also very dangerous your dog.
Use The Proper Equipment
A popular leash used for this type of training is the pull tab leash. A pull tab is a very short leash, only around 8-10″ long. The leash attaches to the dog collar like a normal leash, but is very lightweight, and gives the dog the feeling that he is off of the leash. If a correction is needed, you are able to reach down to grab the pull tab and correct your dog. Pull tab leashes are commonly used for both off leash heel work, as well as in agility training.
Another lead specifically made to help in off leash training is the shark line. A shark line lead is a long and very lightweight, thin cord made of metal. The shark line is light enough so that the dog doesn’t feel it, but the line is there for you to hold in case you need to correct your dog.
Find a Safe Place to Practice
The best place to begin training is right in your own backyard. Sessions should take place in an area that is very familiar to you and your dog. Above all else, you will want to ensure that you are in a safe place, should your dog stop listening to your commands. As mentioned above, this is why mastering basic obedience commands first is absolutely essential.
Once your dog is comfortable being off leash in your yard, you can progress to neighborhood walks or parks. An off leash dog park would be a great place to practice.
Keep in mind that many cities and towns do have rules regarding dogs being off their leashes. Make sure you know that applicable laws in your area so that you don’t end up with a fine!
Have Reasonable Expectations
Even the most obedient of dogs can suddenly go a little bonkers when the leash is removed. Don’t expect your dog to listen fully the first couple of times he is off of his leash. This type of training is something that will take time and a lot of patience. As with all training, take it slow and be consistent. Your dog will catch on to the idea in time.
In conclusion, off leash training can be incredibly rewarding experience for both dog and owner. It’s important to make sure your dog is ready for this training, to use proper tools and find a safe place to practice. Consistency and patience will pay off when you have an obedient dog both on and off his leash.