THU, 17 DEC 2015 BY LINDA ROSADO
Many pet parents would like their pets to experience the freedom of roaming around without the constraints of a leash. The idea of letting go of the fear of losing your pet, so it enjoys running at his own pace, is a thrilling one. However, trusting that your pet will not run away is a difficult—maybe impossible—thing to accomplish, as a dog’s instincts can easily take over at any time. Your pet can forget all about you in a split second at the park during the hot pursuit of a squirrel. If going off leash is something you’ve been considering but have been too fearful in trying to train your pet, here are some things to keep in mind.
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS BEFORE LOSING THE LEASH
Before starting the off leash training, your dog’s tags should be updated with your current address and contact information. In case of anything going amiss, your dog is sure to have the right materials with it. You should also keep your dog’s favorite treats with you as you train, in case it runs off and needs to be lured back in. With a dog that’s particularly rowdy, implanting a microchip is a possible safety measure to take prior to starting the training process. For the best opinions on the practice, talk to your vet about the pros and cons of using microchips for dog tracking.
KEEP YOUR DOG’S ATTENTION
As much as you and your pet love one another, teaching your pet to pay attention to you can take time. Before taking your dog off the leash, make sure your pet acknowledges what you are doing. Once your dog realizes that it is off the leash, take note of how it behaves on its own. Does he stay close to you or run off immediately? See how your dog responds when you call its name. When he does something you approve as positive behavior, reward him with a positive vocal affirmation, a treat or a belly rub. Just because you are training him doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun experience for both of you. Encouragement is key for happier trips to the pet waste station, leash free.
SHAPING YOUR DOG’S BEHAVIOR TAKES TIME
To start your off leash training, don’t take your dog somewhere with too much stimulation. Start by using places you and your dog are familiar with or open areas with little to none people, vehicle and animal traffic. Maybe the basic task of allowing your pet to accompany you to the mailbox or a DOGIPOT® pet waste station, leash free, can be the first step. There is no reason to rush the process or compare your dog to other dogs that you know are already off leash. Every dog has its own personality and baseline behavior that takes time to be disciplined. Because of this, it’s important to understand that training is a process and it all happens gradually.
Despite all the training you might do, your dog may never learn how to be off leash completely—and that’s OK. Your dog’s safety should always be the number one concern when you take your dog out for potty breaks or for play. Remember to have fun, be patient and continue to train your dog over time for progress to take your pup off leash.