Re: off leash training
If there is ANY chance that the dog will run after a squirrel or a kitty or a butterfly and into the street, it is not ready to be off lead. Use a long line. Fence in a small area. Take her to a fenced area.
I started Arwen in obedience at about 1 year of age. Eight weeks later she was good on lead and off lead. She went for a rabbit once and I called and she returned instantly to the heel position. She passed her CGC at a show without ever practicing. She took first place in all three legs of her CD. She learned right away to run with my bike, and stop and sit when I stopped. I can put her on a sit/stay and go into a store and when I come out she will not have moved. She is an exceptional dog. But I would have NEVER expected anything like this when she was a puppy.
None of my other dogs have this type of freedom, Babsy is close to being there at 3 1/2. Jenna will NEVER be there, well, maybe at 11. At two, I have taken Heidi in the woods and was pleasently surprised to find she works very close to me. The babies at 8 months I found when off lead make a bee-line to the back of my vehicle.
The problem is that it only takes a split second for your dog to take off after something and be dead or seriously injured.
Once I think my dogs are really good on lead and off lead in a safe area. I go out after the bars close down and before the morning rush and take them into town to do a little work on and off lead. I start in parking lots that are empty and mostly enclosed. I move out into quiet side walk areas farther from the road like the courthouse property. I have to be hypervigilent for the sound of stray dogs or cats, or drunks trying to work their ways homeward.
After a short walk, I will stop in the partially enclosed parking lot and do a few minutes obedience on lead. Then I unhook the leash and do a few minutes off-lead. Then I praise and put them back on lead.
I build up the off-lead experience. I go to the fairgrounds that is enclosed by fencing, but not readily noticeable -- such a large area. We do figure eights and come fronts, sits and downs, stays and recalls. Then I give them a "RUN ABOUT A BIT" command which means go sniff, run about, at ease, whatever. After a few minutes, I do a recall.
I use ball fields and play grounds and tennis courts. All the local cops know me, because I am there when no one else is. If any horses are out at the fairgrounds, I go away. The horses' owners are paying for the use of the area. If I tick even one person off, they will kick me out. I clean poop up too.
The problem with all of this is that when other people see me running my dogs, they think it is a good idea and then they run their dogs too. They do not necessarily defer to horses. They do not necessarily clean poop. Eventually we are banned from everywhere. Between two and four AM other dog owners sleep.
Arwen will be eight in June. At this point, I feel confident enough to walk her off lead any time, any where.
Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.