Off Leash Dog Training

No one can underestimate the pleasures of a well-trained dog. In recent articles, we went over leash training techniques. Master these before you begin the exercises described in this chapter. As you work toward off-lead control, don’t get too bold. You’ll have less control. Your dog has a choice. If he doesn’t want to come and he’s free to run, you may be standing there helpless. Off-lead work means constantly reading your dog and being aware that your dog is reading you. To have control, you must look like a leader; be confident and self-assured, so your dog will want to trust your judgment.

To further your mental preparation, keep these three steps in mind:

Off Leash Dog Training
3 Steps for Off Leash Dog Training

Stay Cool: Frustration makes you look weak. As you wean your dog to off-lead commands, your dog may act confused and unresponsive. There is a reason. The guidance step of the command sequence is gone. You used to give the command and guide her with the lead. Now, something’s missing. It will feel awkward. What­ever her reaction, stay cool. Any corrections will add to her confusion. Jazz up your body language and use some pep talks to encourage her toward you.

Stay Focused: Eye contact communicates control. Your dog should be watching you. If the reverse is true, you’re the follower. To avoid this, make sure you’re working in a confined area so that you can ignore your dog when she disobeys. If you’re near your house, walk inside. A graceful retreat is not a failure.

Step Back: Your dog is responding off-lead beautifully until… someone rings the bell, a chipmunk runs across the drive, or another dog’s around; then everything’s out the window. You’re back to being ignored. Let me tell you a secret. Off-lead control takes time. If your dog is good, but still having trouble in a stimulating situation, use your Teaching Lead®. Using it helps control the situation while simultaneously conditioning more appropriate behavior.

Using Some New Equipment:

As you work toward off-leash obedience, you’ll be practising exercises that extend your control to farther and farther distances. Before you start, round up these items:

  • Flexi-Leash®. This retractable leash is invaluable for advanced work. The longer, the better.
  • Tree Line. You attach this line to a tree and practice distance command control. Purchase a canvas leash or make your own out of a clothes line attached to a dog clip, which you can purchase at a hardware store.
  • Long Line. You’ll be using this for distance control with “Wait,” “Heel,” “Down,” and “Come” commands. Purchase a canvas lead or use a clothes line.
  • 10-foot Line. Make this in the same fashion as the 30-foot line. You’ll use this line to reinforce house control.
  • The Short Lead. This is an additional training tool. It should be long enough to grab, though short enough not to distract your dog.
  • Grr. Attach all lines to your dog’s buckle 1 collar, not her training (choker) collar.

Off-lead dogs aren’t created overnight. Training is a step-by-step process. You’ll be using your new equipment to increase your dog’s focus, but don’t get itchy fingers. Just because she behaves well on her Flexi-Leash® one day doesn’t mean she’s ready for an off-lead romp the next. Take your time. Though I’ll explain how to train with each piece of equipment separately, you should use them interchangeably in your training exercises.

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