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Old 12-20-2012, 09:39 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Its definitely cool to have your dog walk with you off leash in the street but I would never do that. You just never know. Plus its illegal in my state anyways.
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:21 AM   #22 (permalink)
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It's quite the feat and it will take years of not just training, but maturing for the dog. A female will give you a better shot at it sooner in my opinion, but depending on the lines and the dog it really might not make that big of a difference.

We train dogs to heel, in general when they aren't in heel they're allowed to do their own thing. If you train a very solid heel (schutzhund style) you can say heel and run/walk/jog/crawl and your dog will stay in heel. But when you release it from heel, it will more than likely go and sniff or look at other things, it will just want to be a dog. If you're going to train a more loose (not as strict) heel, then the chances of your dog understanding what you want from it when you're just out jogging (off lead) are smaller. They'll increase as the dog gets older and just gets used to the routine, but for a while as a puppy (up to 3 or 4 years in some cases) it will do what it wants every once in a while.

I have a very social dog. He loves playing with other dogs, he has dog friends in the neighborhood that he gets extremely excited when he smells them in the air. I can slow him down off lead in that situation, but it comes down to saying commands every 3 seconds. He's 2.5 years old. It doesn't bother me in the least bit because I know he's just that kind of dog. He knows heel, he has a 100% recall, but I just don't like him to be running around our neighborhood to go play with his friends.

Off leash work is a great goal, but it takes months and months of practice and sometimes even years. I find huge parks and wooded areas to go with my dog where I'll let him go off lead, but there is no way I would let it happen anywhere near a street...no matter how slow and not busy it is.
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:33 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Our dog who passed away last year (Saint Dirk) at age 15, walked off leash since he was 2, in a city!
We were even stopped by the police once on a busy street and given a ticket. People were booing the police. After that, sometimes we would leash him but he would carry the handle.
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:34 AM   #24 (permalink)
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It is a time commitment - they can be very hard to raise. But the 3-4 hours a day for 8-10 months?

Raising a GSD puppy is a bit different, can be very taxing, it is a breed that needs an outlet for its energy (but so do labs, particularly if you have ever had a field lab!), and ongoing training. I do think an hour to an hour and a half spread through the day in short increments, judicious use of the crate or x-pen, and tethering to you while a puppy are all good things.
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:59 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Nancy ... I was unemployed ... so I had all day to do it!
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:28 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Fenton cracked me up!! My 5 month old walks next to the stroller perfectly with her training. She is leashed with a pinch collar. But, the leash is always slack cause she has a great heel...
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:31 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Wiva can do off leash heeling with distraction and has a solid recall. It helps that I am definitely *her person*. I am her complete world and she honestly doesn't see a reason to be away from me. She is about 22 months old west german showline female. We hike, run, play off leash in parks, public places, parking lots, rest stops during the way to training/trials/shows. I've never had an issue. It helps that I train her in schh and have been working very hard with her on ob and I have good trainers - all of this accentuated by our very deep bond. We are hardly apart, sleep next to each other, she comes to the office with me (medical office - therapy dog!), of course during my off time she is always there, and I show/trial her so that's the rest of my time...it's slightly creepy ! It's definitely possible, but it takes a lot of work and some of it has to be "in" the dog to allow for this capability.

Oh and I got her at 10-11 months old (she had been at the breeder's kennel till then - minimal socialization and no training), I just let her bond to me for about 3-4 months, then started working with obedience in a fun way, in the last 6 months, I upped the training and introduced corrections, off leash etc., now she and I both feel comfortable with off leash. So it took about a year, plus for her to mature and bond.

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Old 12-20-2012, 01:49 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Fenton made me laugh...or rather his owner's mutterings...
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:14 PM   #29 (permalink)
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You may be able to achieve what you want, but you have a LOT to do before then. It will take at least a couple of years of daily training to reach that point, and you'd probably need professional training help and constant reinforcement for the dog. You and your wife will have to be significantly involved every day in that training so you both understand your dog's proclivities, weaknesses, etc. NO amount of off leash training is as secure for you as having your dog on a leash.

Based on what you describe that you want, you can get very close to that much sooner by having your dog well trained walking on-leash with your wife and her stroller. Having a dog off leash in a neighborhood requires constant vigilance and scanning your entire visual field for old people, dogs, cats, squirrels, kids, broken glass, disapproving neighbors, cars, surprise distractions, etc. Your wife does not need that distraction when she is out with your child in a stroller.

I walk Liesl every morning on leash through the crossing guards and school kids streaming into the elementary school, for socialization. I wouldn't dream of trying this off leash, as the parents would protest, it is illegal, it is dangerous for the dog and kids, etc. However, every evening around 10 I walk her off leash (but with an ecollar for emergency control of her) in the neighborhood when most of the distractions are gone and she can explore a bit while staying in my vicinity. If you are a "recreational" trainer, like me, you can definitely get to this stage of off-leash activity if you work at it.
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:17 PM   #30 (permalink)
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This is a really noble goal. I think with the right dog it can happen- but it will take so much management early on (for most dogs, even the good ones) that is may be beyond what you or your wife are willing to take on.

If I could do it again, I would have raised my shepherd to be 100% neutral- which is not easy for a dog breed with some reactive tendencies. Even so, I think you at some point need to layer in prong and/or e-collar to ensure reliability. And even then, a running cat may be enough to break that dog's concentration. With the three dogs I have, I know when I need to leash one-two or three, or when I can allow them off leash.

I love the goal of off-lead reliability in the neighborhood and you MAY be able to achieve it. But I'd plan on training loose lead walking first.

Good luck, I like your vision. Start with the right GSD, learn from the best trainers, and you may be able to achieve it. Overall, though, even the most highly trained dogs are generally on leash around traffic.
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