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Hello guys,

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 :)

Cheers

Mozi
 

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He sure is a handsome dog! You've actually got several issues going on here. First though, I feel I should point out that if your dog is 3 or 6 feet away from you and he decides to bolt, you won't be able to do anything quick enough to keep that from happening! Which is why most often people "train" commands like "close" on a long line first...because it gives you the control you'd need in that event.

Secondly, nagging at your dog is never effective. So again, putting a long line on the dog would eliminate the need for verbal reminders. Thus teaching him what "close" means first on a long line, then allowing him to proof his understanding of the command off leash, would be a safer alternative.

With my dog I use 4 different commands when walking off leash, "with me" (essentially your close command), "heel" (which means a position next to my left leg as expected), "come back" (which means turn back and come toward me, but not the same as a recall), and "this way" (for this I point in a direction that I intend to go, for example when a path we're on forks). In each case, I have trained and expect her to follow that command until released. Once released, the only rule I have is to stay within my sight, which she pretty much has always done naturally, without any formal training. But she loves to run, and usually runs out ahead of me quite far before coming back towards me to check in.

If you ask 10 people how they train for this you're likely to get many variations though, because we all have our own expectations, and often those are dependant on the environment.

It's important to consider carefully the behavior you're after personally, for your particular situation, and then train the dog consistently. Use a different command for each expectation. Another thing to consider is that if he's always expected to be "close" in the park, but allowed to run consistently in the desert, his understanding and yours will likely be quite different on what the rules are. If you alternate between these commands in both locations he's more likely to understand it is your direction that he's following, and won't tie the behavior with the location! I always do this in all situations, because dogs are very good at learning patterns. For me it's important that the "only" consistent pattern my dog can expect is that she has to look at me for direction!

Good Luck!
 

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Do whatever you're comfortable with.Practice,practice,practice those recalls.If there is the slightest doubt that he won't recall from a distance when there is something super tempting to chase,don't push your luck.It's just too dangerous.
My dogs are allowed to run like wild things in safe places and will return when I whistle.Whenever there are roads,people,etc. they are always on a leash or long line.
 

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My puppy is about 20 weeks old now and I usually have her off-leash 100% of the time. The only problem is she likes to run up to every person she sees, to greet, jump, and play with them, and I have to hold her collar every single time we pass by another person.

Other than that, she heels on command, and listens to recalls when she's not too busy sniffing something on the ground to pay attention. She can walk beside me on busy streets and stay close to me on tiny sidewalks even when cars are passing by.

How can I get her to stop having the urge to want to greet every person that walks by? and continue to ignore them and stay with me.
 

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Take that option away from her by leashing her in busier areas.It's way more exciting and rewarding to run and greet than to remain walking by your side.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you guys for the input.

I have implemented the suggestions and they helped a lot.

Tim, thanks for the compliment :)

Mozi
 
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