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Hi guys,

So I am needing some safe off leash ideas from people. I wish I lived in the mountains and could just walk trails off leash with my puppy but being in Detroit Michigan and very downtown it is not possible :(

Feel free to skip the long explanation the above is my only question pretty much.

I had found this AMAZING off leash dog park. I am talking acres and acres of fields and forest where I walked My 8 month puppy for about 2 hours on the weekend days. He was super friendly with people and dogs, played well. Everyone watches their dog here closely and there is so much space if the dogs meet and body language looks iffy we both called dogs away straight away and moved on.

Yes, I know, and I don't want to hear it in this thread, I have read all the NO DOG PARKS!!! threads. But he got attacked 3 times today and I am terrified I have ruined him. It was a classic moron who should not have been there. She had 2 large Australian shepherds. I was distracted for 1 SECOND, didn't get to see them greet so missed the opportunity to intervene straight away. My puppy panicked and ran yelping when they ganged up on him. I got him after about 30 seconds as he finally ran close enough to me. He was unhurt they really just chased him a bit but were snapping. The other owner was useless just stood there calling her dogs. The dogs came back for round two I aggressively stomped forward and the dogs panicked and retreated. I got lucky.

I let him play with some safe retrievers he had met earlier and we called it a day.

Like a total moron I took him back the next day (desperate really he is 8 months, too much energy and I am in tears most days trying to get his needs met so I can breathe at home). Someones stupid whatever went for him. I had been there about 10min already Haku was playing nicely with me and this fluffy other dog. we were throwing balls for them. He had been fine. After that it was all downhill. I should have gone home straight away. Haku was obviously unsure now. He was not being overly submissive but we came across the other dog again (I was walking the trails not just standing around) Haku avoided him beautifully walked away and wide around. Dog turned to go for him I got so angry I grabbed the other dog and pushed/ turned him the other way. (so stupid! I could have been bitten so badly! I was just so freaking angry). I headed back to the exit, it was quite far, and he got attacked twice more. I feel he was scared the other dogs were sensing this and just going for him. I have NEVER seen this happen here. I go often and have only met very well balanced dogs. Haku was giving off that weak vibe. I got the typical "he has never done this before!" from the owners. I don't care. I was too shaken up. probably scaring my puppy. I eventually had him between my legs and I was pushing the other dogs away. I want him to know he will be safe by me not going to get mauled :(

We walked some trails away from the dog park on his long lead instead then headed home.

I am devastated. That off leash park was the only thing I was actually enjoying with my puppy right now. He is a rescue and does not have a very confident personality. Anyway, rant over. I don't want to take him back to the dog park where he can get more scared so I am looking for how people cope with allowing off leash time for their dogs without fenced dog parks. I feel so trapped with this 8 month bored energetic monster lol and no where to just let him be a dog. I don't even want him to play with the other dogs, I was there so we could "hike" together. I do have access to miles of trails at the same park, we would meet very few people and dogs must be on leash but even on the 20ft long line he gets the zoomies and leash pulls it is very frustrating for us both.

I am open to ideas. I want to get us both through this and help build my dog's confidence back up. He is suddenly very unsure about the whole world (people on porches, people gardening, unfamiliar objects, umbrellas etc) I am sure I totally failed him here with this experience and feel bad :(

For the inevitable questions:

- He starts his obedience class next week. I am excited. It is a very positive class clicker training. I feel lots of positivity with him right now is the way to go.
- I have a small fenced back yard. Maybe 15 x 30 ft. We play fetch/frisbee but there is only so much we can do it will never be like hiking with him off leash.
- I CAN find lots of walking trails at the parks here. However, leash pulling and tantrums are a work in progress he gets very frustrated not being able to run. And it is so sad because when we hike off lead he always stays with me and if I call he comes no problem. He panics if I get out of site. I am worried even if I teach him to walk nicely on leash it will never be the same as off leash stuff :(
- I am trying my best to socialize him. By this I mean we walk around the neighborhood. I try find new places to take him but it's just the two of us walking so no playing with other dogs. We go to petsmart. He has fun but is excited.

Okay I have rambled enough. How do you guys let your dogs be dogs when everywhere requires them to be on a 6 foot leash??
 

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School grounds and ball fields are a possibility
 

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School grounds and ball fields are a possibility
I have been thinking about that. there are pretty strict no dogs allowed rules though. I will drive by a few and see if there are very obvious signs. Unfortunately it is a vey active neighborhood most of those places kids are playing baseball etc.
 

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Sorry to hear about your dog park experience. Dog parks can be fun places to go but each park varies a lot regarding the type of people that frequent them. I would suggest googling dog parks in your area to see if there are others nearby that might suit you better.

My dogs spend as much time off leash as their temperament and training permits. Fines for being offleash run about the same as annual fees for monitored dog parks. Usually police, animal control and park rangers let you off with a warning if your dog is not being a nuisance or bothering anybody. I find that LE is more prone to want to converse about the dog when it is a GSD than to give you grief.

Places to go offleash are always commensurate with the degree of recall on the dog as well as any dog aggression or reactivity. Some places are industrial parks on weekends and after hours, behind shopping centers, shopping center parking lots near vacant stores or perimeters, cemeteries away from the plots (even when no dogs allowed, keep it to the perimeter), river banks, along railroad tracks, isolated trails in local parks, just to name a few.
 

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Check out an app called sniff spot. It basically lets you rent someone's property for a period of time for your own use. Worth looking into to see if there is anything in your area. The park maybe an option once your pup is older and more confident.
 

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Hi MineareWorkingLine,

Very creative options, thankyou! I am very introverted and scared to break the rules but I think I can try figure something out. Maybe in the meantime I will just work on his obedience and recall, hike on his long line and when his recall is more solid see what we can get away with. It is all so frustrating. And that dog park was by far my best option. The other nearby parks are all just small closed off sections where you do not have much room to move away from other dogs. I feel this would be way worse.

I grew up on a farm with acres of land with my dogs, I am struggling a bit with this change of environment :(
 

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Check out an app called sniff spot. It basically lets you rent someone's property for a period of time for your own use. Worth looking into to see if there is anything in your area. The park maybe an option once your pup is older and more confident.
Hi Bramble,

Cool app. I had no idea there was something like this!

Yes my thinking exactly. Haku is SO good with people and dogs (when he is not scared) that I think if I take a step back and build his confidence maybe we could try again some day. It is frustrating when your dog is so sweet and not actually doing anything and these dogs just going for him :( He is 8 months and 80 lbs already so going to be a big boy, I am more worried about his becoming dog aggressive :O
 

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Check out churches and VFW, Knights of Columbus, American legion, etc. private function halls. Sometimes they have fenced areas. Go in and ask permission.
 

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I have reached out to a few equestrian centres in my travels and gotten them to let me use the indoor arena when they are not using it. I have also made use of tennis courts and outdoor hockey rinks. Old industrial yards and storage facilities will often let you in after hours as well. Ask permission and be respectful.
Shadow cannot be off leash so I made her a long line, about 25'. She enjoys romping around when we are hiking. I built it with clips at either end so I can fasten it around my waist and leave my hands free.
 

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Check out churches and VFW, Knights of Columbus, American legion, etc. private function halls. Sometimes they have fenced areas. Go in and ask permission.
nice I never thought about this. I will start looking around. There has to be something I can make use of.
 

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I have reached out to a few equestrian centres in my travels and gotten them to let me use the indoor arena when they are not using it. I have also made use of tennis courts and outdoor hockey rinks. Old industrial yards and storage facilities will often let you in after hours as well. Ask permission and be respectful.
Shadow cannot be off leash so I made her a long line, about 25'. She enjoys romping around when we are hiking. I built it with clips at either end so I can fasten it around my waist and leave my hands free.
I love the long line with clips idea! I think the long line hiking is my best bet right now, my biggest problem however is that Haku gets so happy/ excited and wants to do zoomies. Like in long grass for example and we always end up tangled around trees or with not enough line. And then he leash pulls at 20ft, gets mad when i ask for slack and turns around and zoomie bites me (I know, I am working on it :/ ) It's so stupid and so hard. Maybe I can just tire him out a bit before and teach him some commands. Still sucks but it's better than nothing. He wants to trot ahead then come back that is what he does off leash. This may seem stupid but I am already considering something like skijoring in the future. Sure is enough snow around here! If he is going to pull me then FINE! I will turn it into something haha

Thanks for the responses guys. I have a lot going on and am feeling a bit overwhelmed.
 

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Quick tip: if you pass a property that seems to have a potential for use but don't have time to check it out, pull over and text it to yourself so you don't forget.

Edit to add: Hope things ease up for you.
 
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