Saturday, November 18, 2017

Off Leash - The First Step

You want your dog to be able to go for walks off leash? Right? It is your dream that you and your dog go for a hike in the forest, or walk through the park? AND when you call for Fido, he comes running back to you like he was as fast as a jackrabbit in front of a prairie fire? The reality may be that every time your dog has gotten away from you, he has run as far and as fast away from you as he could. Sound like someone you know?  If you answered yes, then please read below ;)

Tasty (high value) treats, like meatballs, meat chunks, fish
Some temporary fencing
A few carabiners
A dog food bowl
6-foot leash

 A game I like to play to start dogs on their off-leash journey keeps everyone safe and starts to build that invisible leash that eventually will keep your dog with you.

Even if you never plan to allow your dog to go off leash this game may help you if ever an accident ever happens and Fido is suddenly free.  You have created some great value built for staying close, keeping him out of harm's way. 

Start off by finding a fenced in area that your dog is not familiar with (somewhere you do not usually take him).  Some ideas could be outdoor hockey rinks, many townships leave them up all summer and they are fully boarded.  Softball diamonds, I bring along a bit of temporary fencing and some carabiners and use it to block off the dugout entries and voila a fenced area. (We do recommend that you check with local by-law to make sure dogs are allowed!)

Next, have some great treats with you that are big enough to throw (I like 1/4 of a meatball) and a hungry dog helps. (The first time you try this it is helpful to leave a leash on your dog.)  When the fenced area is all secured let your dog go.  DO NOT CALL!  Walk around, when your dog chooses to come within 10 feet of you throw a meatball at him.  Make sure he sees it by throwing right in front of him, if he is running fast he might not see it otherwise.  After about 5 repetitions of walking away and then throwing treats when he gets close he should be starting to slow down when he comes near you, now you reduce the distance he has to be before you throw the treat to about 7 feet.  Keep doing this until he will come, and take the treat from your hand.  NOTE: This likely will take more than one session.

When it is time to go home walk over to the door, pull out his food bowl and put a bunch of treats in it.  DO NOT CALL!  When your dog comes over and eats the treats just walk up and stand on his attached leash.

With some practice and lots of rewarding you will be rewarded with a dog with an excellent invisible leash!