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When To Give Your Dog The Freedom Off The Leash

02-10-2006 09:18 AM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: Jonathan Cheong

Many dog owners are anxious to give their four legged companions the freedom of going off leash, but it is important not to rush that important step. Dogs should only be allowed off their leash after they have become masters of all the basic obedience commands, such as walking at heel, sitting and staying on command.



Another skill that must be completely mastered before the dog can be taken off the leash is the come when called command. Even if the dog can heel, sit and stay perfectly, if he cannot be relied upon to come when called, he is not ready to be taken off the leash.



Taking any dog off the leash, especially in a busy, crowded area, or one with a lot of traffic, is a big step and not one to be taken lightly. It is vital to adequately test a dog in a safe environment before taking him off his leash. After all, the leash is the main instrument of control. The owner must be absolutely certain his voice can be relied on commands for control before removing the leash.



After the dog has been trained to understand the sit, stay and come when called commands, it is important to challenge the dog with various distractions. It is a good idea to start by introducing other people, other animals, or both, while the dog is in a safe environment like a fenced in yard.



Have a friend or neighbor stand just outside the fence while the owner hold the dog on the leash. As the friend or family member walks around the outside of the fence, watch the dog’s reactions closely. If he starts to pull at the leash, quickly tug him back.



Repeat this exercise until the dog will reliably remain at the owner's side. After this,try dropping the leash, and eventually removing the leash and repeating the distraction. It is important to vary the distractions, such as introducing other animals, other people, traffic, rolling balls, etc.



After the dog is able to remain still in the face of distraction, start introducing the come when called lessons with distractions in place. Try inviting some of the neighbors, and their dogs, over to play. As the dogs are playing in the fenced in yard, try calling the dog.



When the dog comes, immediately give him lots of praise, and perhaps a food reward. After the dog has been rewarded, immediately allow him to go back to playing. Repeat this several times throughout the day, making sure each time to reward the dog and immediately allow him to go back to his fun.


(To Be Continued...)


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