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Train Your Dog to Walk Off Leash

Dog to Walk Off Leash - Pet Wants Wilmington, NC
  • 20 July 2018
  • Pet Wants

Are You (and Your Dog) Off the Leash? If Not, Here’s How to Do It

Walking your dog has lots of benefits, both for you and for her. Getting fresh air, enjoying the sunshine, and burning some of those calories add to the fact that walking can just be fun. The only thing that could make a dog-walk more enjoyable for you and your pup is not having a leash between you! It is possible to train her to walk off the leash, it just takes time and requires some dedicated effort from the two of you. Practice first on a loose leash before going off the leash.

Practice with a Loose Leash

Hook up her leash but shorten its length and let it hang loosely. Show her you’re the leader by walking in front of her. Use your excited voice when talking to her so she knows to listen to you as you walk. Allow her to sniff a little and relieve herself, but quickly call her back into action. So long as she walks behind you or beside you, reward her every 10-12 steps, then randomly. If she gets ahead of you, stop and walk backward a few steps so she returns to your side, and reward her. Make it a leisurely walk but be consistent. She won’t learn to walk on a loose leash in one outing, so practice 5-7 days minimum.

Practice Off the Leash

After practicing for a few days on a loose leash, when you think she’s consistently got the idea of walking behind you or by your side, take her to a fenced outdoor area or in an indoor hallway. Walk around the area while ignoring your dog. After a couple minutes, call her and give her a reward when she comes. Do this repeatedly until she walks behind you or by your side each time you take about 10 steps. If she stays by your side for 10 steps (or a few more), reward her. Steadily increase the number of steps before treating again. Then randomly reward her as she walks by your side. If she walks ahead of you or away from you, quickly call her to your side and reward her. Again, using an excited voice when calling her will help! Practice 3-5 days minimum in an enclosed area off the leash.

The Big Day!

Now that Pups has had her 10-12 days of consistent training, it’s time to go off-leash! Make sure you have her treats in your pocket and get your excited voice ready. Also, be sure to walk her in a familiar place where she won’t be distracted. First, walk her on the loose leash, rewarding her for walking behind or alongside you. After about 10 minutes, when you see she is walking as she should, unhook her leash and keep talking to her and rewarding her as you walk. If she begins to wander off, call her and reward her for returning. However, she may not even realize she’s off the leash! That’s the best-case scenario. Worst-case is you have to walk her home on a loose leash and try off-leash again tomorrow. Whatever the case, be sure to reward her after the walk at home with food and water for a job well done!

While it’s an admirable and fun skill to teach your pup to walk off-leash, note that some communities have leash requirement laws (especially in city parks). If you are unsure about leash laws in your community, contact your local mayor’s office or your city council representative. Off the leash or on, obey the laws, be safe, and enjoy the outdoors with your pet!