I did something a bit different with my current 9 month old dog.
She was basically mostly off leash until she was about 6 months old. We used the leash to teach basic OB and when out on roads, so she certainly knows how to walk on a leash, but she wasn't leashed much.
She was great off leash until she got more independent, and that's when I introduced the e-collar. It literally took only ONE 15 minute session with e-collar, then a couple short refreshers, before her recall was 100%, with or without the collar. She is a smart dog, but I also have figured out a lot working with past dogs. This is a dog who also learned fetch to hand in five minutes... and it stuck. I love a trainable dog.
That is how I do it- but this is just for hiking or running with the dog off leash. For sport OB I do start with leash, teach commands, proof them on leash then progress to off leash.
I hate to see people stay reliant on a leash for too long, though, when often just a few clear sessions with an e-collar can train the dog to be safe off leash, and give you both lots more freedom. I muddled around with this for so long with past dogs, taking risks I shouldn't have by letting dogs off leash too soon, when figuring out the e-collar would have made everything super fast.
It may not be for everyone, but it give my dogs freedom to just be dogs and go out on the trails with me, and not get lost chasing deer, etc.
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