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Discussion Starter #1
Do you think every dog can have/deserves off leash time? I don't mean at a dog park. I don't even mean necessarily in an enclosed area or a small area like a backyard. I just mean in general if they don't have great recall.

I personally think that all dogs do deserve off leash time for their own sanity as well as their owners. It burns off a lot of energy.

Where do you go for 'safe' off leash time with no other dogs or people and an area that's large? Ideas? I've read about tennis courts being a good place to train. Or enclosed baseball fields...Where else can we go?

I took my dogs to the park the other day. They used to be off leash dogs with amazing recall on their e-collars. But they've become 'collar-smart'. I didn't have their e-collars on this time. The area was fenced in from 3 sides and my dad and I stood at the open end. I can tell you it could've been disastrous. We had a hard time recalling them in and at one point tried to chase them down. Their off leash time totaled probably a horrific 10-15 minutes.

I can't do it again. I'm thinking since I got new e-collars I've to retrain them properly and then attempt it but otherwise off leash time is a big no-no for us. My dogs were a lot more happier as was I when they had off leash time...I miss it...
 

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Use a long line. It would still allow a little freedom.
 

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Some dogs can never safely be off leash. Does that make their life any less enjoyable? Not necessarily... My Shiba inu for instance, until he was aprox 16yrs old he never spent a day of his life intentionally off leash. He would put his nose to the ground and be gone only stopping if and when he ran into water. I dont think it is required to have a happy and healthy dog if you give them other exercise and they get the correct mental stimulation.
 

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Only dogs that can be controlled off-leash should be off-leash. Unless you're in a fenced in area you should never risk allowing your dog to be off-leash.

I know you have a tendency to humanize your dogs, but I don't know how you rate the "happiness" of your dogs. I'm sure they're just happy being with you, on or off leash. My dog could care less if he's attached to me or not when we're going places and although I'm sure he loves his freedom once in a while, it doesn't hurt his feelings one bit when the leash has to be on.

I didn't let my dog off-lead until I knew his recall was solid and that he'd stay with me no matter what ran across the trail. During training...he's never more than 30 yards away from me, but at this point he's very comfortable in that setting and I'm willing to bet he's happiest when we're at training.
 

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I do much of Gus' training on a 30ft lunge lead. It allows him the freedom to think and decide where he should be while I still have control if he decided to go for a romp. So far he lacks any intetest in straying from me.

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I often take my two dogs to the beach, my 3 year old dobe has a great recalll and spends his time off leash. My 7 month old GSD is getting there, but if there are people with other dogs or children running around, I leash her. She isn't nasty at all, but as a mother I wouldn't want a large dog however friendly, bounding up to me or my kids so I won't let my dogs do it. Often people ask to stroke the dogs and that's fine.
My pup couldn't care less whether she's on or off the leash, she gets plenty of time to run in our garden and we're lucky enough to have a paddock. When we're out I think she's just happy to be seeing and smelling different things :)

I know some purists will be shocked by this, but I have an 8 metre flexi-lead for the beach :shocked:
 

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There's no requirement for it. Sebastian, my first dog, was allowed off lead but Baxter, my Chow x Husky, has never been off lead on purpose without being in an enclosed space. We would go to baseball fields or tennis courts for off lead time, but even that was few and far between. We would just use a very long lead (2 -50' leads tied together) and he got 'free roam' without having free roam. Both dogs were happy and content.

I didn't feel bad about it as Baxter, if he gets off lead, is a pain to get back on. Last time he got off, he was roaming around my parents' property for a good 36 hours. He didn't bother anyone else and mostly spent his time hanging out not more than thirty feet behind the house. He finally went back in his outdoor pen and just stayed there. I'd rather him be on lead and safe, than risking off lead training and him getting hurt.
 

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I'd rather him be on lead and safe, than risking off lead training and him getting hurt.
This definitely. Gunther gets so distracted by squirrels and other dogs that unless we're in an enclosed space where I can trust that his recall he's not allowed off lead. He's happy and fine with it :) he gets new smells and isn't at home or the backyard (which is always super exciting for him).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Only dogs that can be controlled off-leash should be off-leash. Unless you're in a fenced in area you should never risk allowing your dog to be off-leash.

I know you have a tendency to humanize your dogs, but I don't know how you rate the "happiness" of your dogs. I'm sure they're just happy being with you, on or off leash. My dog could care less if he's attached to me or not when we're going places and although I'm sure he loves his freedom once in a while, it doesn't hurt his feelings one bit when the leash has to be on.

I didn't let my dog off-lead until I knew his recall was solid and that he'd stay with me no matter what ran across the trail. During training...he's never more than 30 yards away from me, but at this point he's very comfortable in that setting and I'm willing to bet he's happiest when we're at training.
I feel my dogs are 'happiest' when they're worn out mostly because then they simply chill out and I don't have to check on them every few seconds to make sure they're not doing something wrong. Isn't 'a tired dog a happy dog'? And off leash running OMG burns off SO much energy...it probably takes them about 15 minutes to get tired off leash which is equal to about an hour walk on leash...
 

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Luckily my dogs spend a lot of time off leash. Training wise and Hiking wise.

A life on leash only... not sure if I would want my dogs to live like that. I know that mine have always enjoyed a lot of freedom. Probably more than a lot of dogs on this Forum. Indra was never leashed as a puppy, the only time she was leashed was when we walked on post, other than that, she's always been off leash. Walking on the River Neckar, in the Wine Hills of Heidelberg, Holy Mountain of Heidelberg, Thingstaette and even out here we've always lived at places where the dogs could roam freely and I will drive to places where my dogs can be off leash.

Also, the bond I have with my dogs is unbelievably strong. I am around them 24/7. It truly is 24/7 and I barely ever leave the house without them. That also makes a huge difference in the re-call. They are basically bound to me. They could care less about listening to my Husband (he broke his wrist that way, back in Germany. Took dogs of the leash, dogs took off to get back to me, he slipped on ice and broke his wrist, dogs waited patiently on front door to be let in the house. I advised him not to take them off the leash but he had to find out the hard way...)

Also, I would never buy a breed that I cannot trust off leash. While I find Huskies beautiful and gorgeous, I wouldn't get one.
I will always have breeds that want to be with you rather than want to be independent and could care less about their handler.
 

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This is one place I found value in the recoil leash. As a puppy, my dog got used to wandering as far as 17 feet away. She got used to 'freedom' to that extent and we practiced recall. Having been accustomed to some level of freedom and recall, she quickly became trustworthy off leash. Just because it worked for me doesn't mean it will work for everyone.
 

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No! The first priority is recall, if they dont have a strong recall then it is stupid to let them run away/get hit by a car.
 

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All my GSDs have always been off leash dogs. I think it's very very important, and this is always a training goal of mine. It's so valuable in so many ways too - it's not simply great exercise, but it's so good to help your bonding and reaffirm your relationship. It's the best thing you can do with your dog, IMO. But, I would never tell someone else to do this, if they didn't spend the time to work on getting there. You can't just let your dog run, unfortunately. It's dangerous, lol, although my neighbors don't seem to think so.
 

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I feel my dogs are 'happiest' when they're worn out mostly because then they simply chill out and I don't have to check on them every few seconds to make sure they're not doing something wrong. Isn't 'a tired dog a happy dog'? And off leash running OMG burns off SO much energy...it probably takes them about 15 minutes to get tired off leash which is equal to about an hour walk on leash...
See...that isn't so true...its a very "human" thing. In our minds, most of us are happiest lounging around, relaxing, cat napping, ect. A tired dog might make for a happy owner (isn't bothering the owner), but I know my dog loves to do stuff. Anything, for any period of time! If we could spend all day training, he'd love it. Jumping, retrieving, ect. Once the weather gets warm and we get to go to the beach...he loves running through the forest and then getting out to the beach and retrieving stick after stick after stick.

But...the only reason he gets to do that is that he has extremely reliable recall. Without that recall, I'd find fenced in areas for him where we wouldn't be bothered by other people or dogs. I've always made sure that mine and my dog's enjoyment doesn't come at the expense of other people's.
 

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I'm confused by your question. My dogs are always off leash inside. Its only when they go outside they get leashed. I don't think a dog should be leashed 24-7 but I don't think it hurts them to have a leash for their own safety outside. Luckily I have a fenced area for them to run in... But if I didn't they would be leashed outside and not leashed inside. :)
 

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Our dog is mostly leashed. This is what she is used to. We got a 26' Flexi Giant leash. Every once is a while she goes off leash: when there is nobody at this little private beach near us, or at school playground near my daughter's house. This might be only 1x-2x a week.

If we are able to meet up with a GSD group and there are several dogs together, then I will let her off leash. She seems better behaved with this group, mostly because they are well trained themselves. But these are special events, I live too far away to participate every day.

Our dog does not have a consistent recall. But she does have a great "down". So if things do start getting a little crazy off leash, then I can control with "down".
 

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Mine get about 90% off leash time only, really the only time I ever have them on a leash is if I'm going on a long walk, or taking them to an event. I don't know why but it seems like always having that freedom made recall training allot easier, now just a whistle or name call and they come bounding back regardless of what they were doing (most of the time, unless it's the neighbors dogs who they play with allot) My Shepard, though recently discovered he could jump our fence and now escapes if left out back unattended. Luckily he usually goes straight to the front door and never leaves the yard. But I gotta do something about that fence.
I've had dogs in the past though that given the chance, open fence gate or what. They would pick a direction and not stop. And then run when you try to grab them... Not a fun day.
 

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My girls all have good recall, even the ones I haven't titled yet. Joy was titled a little after a year old and she is 3.5 now. I brought her into the front yard which is not fenced yesterday after I mowed. I sat on a chair and she ran around with a squeek toy and a plastic bottle. She stayed in the yard and never when anywhere near my boundaries, and I never once showed her the property lines.

Occasionally I will take one down to the river. I own to the middle of the river which is in a ravine behind my house. But there is county property back there and my neighbor has given me permission to walk over his land to get down in there. So it's a little wooded area that I feel comfortable going off-lead with the girls.

Today I took Gretta and Dolly for a weigh in. I released them from their kennels and they rushed to the gate, through the gate and to the back of my vehicle to be loaded. When I let them out after coming back, they rushed to my back gate to go back into the yard. Most of them get a little time every day in Near Field or Far Field which are fenced. None of them want to go off my property without me.

There is other county property like the fair grounds that I used to use, and the stables across the road -- the fair grounds are fenced around the fields around the stables are not, but you can drive pretty far back there near the ball fields and a dog with decent recall will be fine. Now I see signs on the fairgrounds -- Authorized Personnel Only. So that might be out now.

I will go to school yards if there are no kids there. If there are kids, my dogs are left leashed. And the park, but if there is another car -- anyone there, I leash my dog. But I will only go there with the intention of letting them off-lead if the recall is solid.
 

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I have thought about the tennis courts, especially when its getting colder out, but they paddle lock them by me...and I've checked plenty. My dogs have pretty good recall, its me that is nervous, therefore I just keep them on a leash. I would be completely miserable if something happened to any of them. So the way I see it, is that I would much rather have a leashed dog rather then one that got seriously hurt or dead without one.
 
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