So we have a park (not dog park) next to the house.
Since about a month, I started experimenting with time off leash gradually, 3 minutes, 5 minutes etc etc... I had a couple of bolts but now after the bond became stronger and as Rex is more tuned to me, we have been doing 50% of his walks in the park off leash. The walks now range from 15 minutes to minutes where he is off leash. No bolts, he is tuned to me and attentive.
During those walks, I am generally not allowing him to be more than 6 feet or so from me. I give the "Close" command and he gets close and we walk. When I feels he is about to wander I give the command again, clap my hands etc... A bit of a nagger me though I feel
When we see a cat, if she is somewhat far, he looks at her, ears perk and I give a deep serious "Leave it" and he does and sticks by me. Not sure if she bolts in front at very close distance. But I can "down" him quite effectively now.....Anyway...
I feel that him being close allows me better control in case something happens and he wants to bolt. Anyhow, we went to the desert today, and we walked and ran there. I did something different where I allowed him to move in front of me. I did three or four recalls and he came back nicely and I released him with "go!" as a reward or fetch of his ball. It was different than in the park in terms of distance.
Here is my dilemma. Would'nt it be much safer to always keep the distance "close" like the park? Meaning if he only gets used to walk close to me wherever we are, even in the desert and hike, I can have better control given proximity. It is less fun for him for sure and I love the idea of him having fun. It was also very nice to have him go in front of me and recalling him and releasing. Just worried that doing as such will ruin the "close" style off leash walking and running.
How do you do your off leash in terms of distance between you and the dog? Ideally you would probably want to have the choice to be in control in whatever scenario and choose whether you want a "close" walk or allowing a back and forth with some distance.....I guess I am worried that the more freedom will make the "close" style suck for him. I obviously am more confident with the "Close" at this stage, and I am not sure if I should introduce the longer distance between us or not.
Off leash is amazing and I want to really focus on doing it right. Early days! He is a pic from today