when off leash - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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when off leash

I was wondering how I know if I can have Rex off leash on walks with me. He's 8 months now and listens to 90%... I can't fully trust him yet though!

Where can I try to have him off leash and see how he would behave? I don't wanna try it on an open field because I'm afraid he's gonna take off
Maybe at the dog park when there's nobody there?!

How do you really "train" to have him by your side at all times. Do you have to train a perfect heel and then you can try having him off leash?
I do know some dogs who don't heel perfectly but are doing fine without leash...
Is "come" maybe more important than "heel" when it comes to off leash...

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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 02:57 PM
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Re: when off leash

My opinion I wouldn't he is to young
My B is 4 and I only have him off leash once and a great while
too many good things out there to distract him
especially if its a street near by

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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 02:59 PM
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Re: when off leash

Come is DEFINITELY more important than heeling. If you're not sure how your boy would behave off-leash, get a long lead, 15 - 30 feet. Clip it onto him in an open field and drop the leash. That way, if he takes off, you can grab the leash, tell him "come" and reel him in (and reward him with treats and praise).

Heeling and a reliable recall are totally different, imo. Heeling is useful if you're walking in crowds and need your dog close to you, or if you compete in dog sports, but not too much else. My pup knows heads-up, SchH style heeling but I rarely ever use it in real world situations. A reliable recall is useful all the time.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 03:00 PM
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Re: when off leash

Is there a fenced in area (like a playground or ball field) where you can take him? If so then take him there with a bag full of REALLY yummy treats like real chicken or liver or steak. Run around and play with him and reward him every time he comes to you, watches you, etc.

Recall is definitely more important than a heel in a play area. I also teach a stay close command for when my dogs are off leash and I need them to stay by my side (like another dog is passing, a squirrel is running around, etc.).

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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 03:08 PM
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Re: when off leash

Ruth how do you teach the "stay close?"

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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 03:10 PM
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Re: when off leash

We taught my pup to have good off-leash recall when he was a baby by every time he would come to us, we would give him a treat and say "good with me" Now - if we are out in the woods and he's off leash (6 mos) he won't go far. If we need him back (due to another dog) we say "with me" and he comes as fast as he can! I think (I may be wrong), but in the beggining it's really all about word association & getting your pup to understand what you really mean by it. Don't set him up for failure. I would definently say use a long lead and see what he does with even that much freedom.


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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 03:24 PM
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Re: when off leash

I would get a long line first, the longest you can get. I got a 50ft cord at wal-mart for $5 and I used it to make a tracking line, but you can tie it to his collar, head out to a field with lots of treats (cut up hot dogs work well).

Let him explore and get to the end of the lead, call him/give him the command/or even use a whistle, give a tug on the lead and when he turns to come to you, encourage him even more and when he gets to you give him lots of treats & praise.

A solid recall takes lots of training.

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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 03:29 PM
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Re: when off leash

Enclosed payground or any enclosed area (including gates!) where there are no distractions. Like Ruth and Virginia indicated focus more on strengthening the recall , though working on the heeling is great too.

The other command I would add in there is leave it command. If you want to have your dog out there off leash, it's good to be able to call them off of things you don't want them investigating or putting in their mouths.

In addtion to yummy treats, add a favorite fetch toy - a tug and/or a ball to play with and to use as an award.

For the stay close command Ruth mentioned, I use "with me" when the dogs are off leash.


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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 03:50 PM
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Re: when off leash

Your recall has better to be "cat, squirrel, dog" proof or else don't do it. And - per another thread that's going on about "friendly" dog - even if someday you have the dog completely under control, be sure to leash the dog when you are out and about.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 04:01 PM
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Re: when off leash

I use long lines. I use 50 ft lines so there's little if any tension.

I take my kids on hikes through the woods -- with all the critters and scents that woods entail -- and I let them wander away from me and have a good time. Then I call them back to me, reward them with high value treats, and send them off again.

We do this over and over, til the kids realize that Come just means "check in" not "game over."

Come is THE most important skill my kids know, followed closely by "Wait" (because a dog that won't come often will just stop and wait for you to catch up).

Once I've done this over and over and over and over and over and over and over (and I'm also training in closed in areas like baseball fields as Ruth outlines), then I'll try offleash recalls in really distracting places like the woods. But I don't do that until my kids are out of their adolescent years.

98% trustworthy is a dog that can be lost, hit by a car, or killed by a mountain lion because he strayed too far away. Until you're positive he'll come back 100% of the time, he needs to be on a leash or a longline. Some dogs never graduate off the leash. It's ok. They're just lively, energetic curious dogs. When they're 10 or 12, they usually settle down and become reliable -- maybe
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