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Old 02-27-2011, 01:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Off leash: when to let dog off leash?

Bella is now 9 1/2 months old. I live in NYC across from Central Park. They have off leash hours. Bella has mastered many commands, heels, sits, lies down, stays (for a while, LOL), is well socialized. As for "come", she is not 100%. I am hoping to work with a trainer in the next week or so.
I get mixed feedback from dog owners in the park as to when you can begin to let the dog off leash. I would have to have a ball, or a Kong on a rope, something she wants and will encourage her to come back to me.

You have to be well into the Park, because you want to be away from the entrances and street traffic. The older shepherd my late husband and I had was off leash most of the time, but he had trained her. She would not run into traffic. Bella does not understand "traffic" yet. How do you know when a dog can be let off leash? She desperately wants to romp and play with the other dogs, and chase a ball, so I try not to take her in the Park during off leash hours, because she gets frustrated being on a leash.

Advice is really appreciated. My sister-in-law, an experienced dog trainer who lives far away from me, is very afraid Bella will chase a squirrel, run away and not come back, or somehow get out of the park and into traffic.
But at some point, the dog needs to be off leash. Advice truly needed.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The doesn't need to be and shouldn't be until her recall is 100%. When you can call her off of squirrels, other dogs, traffic, etc. without her blinking an eye, then you can let her off leash. Try taking her on a longer lead to the park during ON leash hours and see what she does. Act as though you DON'T have physical control of her and call her, work with her, etc. It would be a great place to practice recall, and since she WOULD be on the leash, you can reel her in if she doesn't "come" and treat her for coming.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree especially with all the traffic and distractions you need to make sure your recall is 100% before attempting off leash in an unfenced area. I almost learned this the hard way with my 2 year old Millie. I step out on the porch in the morning and let her fetch the paper which she usually does with out problem. Unfortunately on that morning she saw something in a yard down the street and took off like a bolt. She moved so fast I had not idea what she was even chasing but ignored by recall luckily she turned around at the end of the street and came back. But a very big lesson for me until then I thought my recall was good but it was obviously not 100%. Something we are working on.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree with the warnings. She has to be 100% ON the leash before she off the leash. I think she is also too young and still "puppyish". I have to just practice and practice with her recall. I have a 30 foot lead, but that proved very clumsy to handle.However, I may try using it again. I may also try a 15 foot lead. I do not like retractable leashes, I think they can be dangerous.

The squirrel thing: when she sees one, I give her the command Lass ess, leave it. And try to distract her. A K9 guy suggested that. She does not jump toward them as much as she used to, but you can see she REALLY wants that squirrel! She looks up the trees to find them! Yes, she as to be 100% reliable despite distractions, whatever is going on. It is going to take work and repetition! Thanks all!
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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UH NEVER?!! Why would your risk her life like that? I don't care how well trained the dog is, if there is a small chance that the dog will run off, it will happen!!! GSDs are prey driven and like your sister in law says, if she sees a squirrel or any other type of small animal, she will take after it! Take her to fenced in parks, I'm sure there are plenty out there, if you want her to be off leash.
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Old 03-01-2011, 03:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSDBESTK9 View Post
UH NEVER?!! Why would your risk her life like that? I don't care how well trained the dog is, if there is a small chance that the dog will run off, it will happen!!! GSDs are prey driven and like your sister in law says, if she sees a squirrel or any other type of small animal, she will take after it! Take her to fenced in parks, I'm sure there are plenty out there, if you want her to be off leash.
It is amazing how many dogs are off leash in Central Park! But a GSD has to have perfect obedience to be off leash. I am hoping to work with a highly recommended trainer to bring her to the highest level I can. We traveled all over the country with our late dog, Holly, and she was rarely on leash, but as I said before, she was much older, loved to chase every squirrel, rat, and cat, LOL, BUT she was "street savvy", she knew not to go into traffic, she always "knew" where we were. Believe me, I am NOT going to let Bella off leash any time soon. There may come a tome when she is totally reliable, I'll let you know! She certainly will be older than 9 months! The dog runs are problematic: you have good owners and bad owners, and sometimes problems. Bella goes to doggie day care three times a week for socialization, expensive, sigh, but worth it. There she is safely off leash! Thanks for your warning!
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Old 03-01-2011, 03:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You care about your dog. Do not worry about those other dogs. Maybe their owners are not as worried about their dog darting out in traffic and getting killed or needing a leg amputated. You cannot take crap like that back. You cannot go through life afraid to step because this one might be the one that causes you to fall and break your pelvis, but for those things you can avoid, please do.

Some alternatives:

1. Find some place that is totally fenced in where you can let the dog run.
2. Attach a long line to your dog.
3. Join a herding club and take your dog herding, Or start puppy agility with her.

I use the fair grounds in my town. There are areas that are fenced in, and I can go there free of charge and let my girls run. For training, there is a parking lot that is 3/4 fenced, or the playground/tennis courts, and I go late at night when they are not in use by other people. (And I clean up after my dogs.) Sometime the cops stop and talk to me, but so far most of my haunts have not caused anyone heart failure yet.
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Old 03-01-2011, 03:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I remember reading about someone on here and their highly trained GSD years ago. I believe the dog was trained in Schutzhund. This person took the dog to a store a lot and would Platz (down) him at the entrance of the store while he/she shopped. It was all good until one day the dog saw a cat across the street, this highly trained GSD broke the down stay to go chase the cat and got hit by a car...dead dog.
To me, it is just not worth it, I don't care if other people have their dogs loose, it is their problem when something happens to their dog.
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Old 03-11-2011, 03:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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hey there... i'm new here and haven't had a chance to post my intro yet. I'm actually only awake because I just brought home a new GSD puppy 7 weeks old and i've been up all night with her getting her on a bit of a schedule. She's in the same bloodline as Covey Tucker Hills Manhattan

Anyway, with my old Golden, I worked towards off-leash by going from a 6 ft lead, to a 15ft lead, to a 30 ft lead. I still was able to have a "safety" incase recall didn't work but i was amazed at how quickly he learned to listen to recall especially when all of a sudden my foot was on the lead and his harness stopped him in his tracks - really got his attention!

I'd suggest going with a long lead.
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Old 03-11-2011, 09:37 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I worked and trained Max for 2 years before he was off leash, that is what was recommended from my trainer, he is 100% at everything, he's off leash in my yard so are the others, but I would never trust Max out in public off leash for fear of that one time, no dog is 100% reliable, I could never forgive myself if something happened,
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