A dog without a leash: the risks
Even if your dog obeys the recall very well, walking him off-leash, whether in the city or in the country, can be dangerous in many situations, if your dog:
● crosses a congener held on a leash: it can quickly turn into a fight because a dog held on a leash will not have the same behavior as in total freedom during a first meeting,
● crosses another dog in freedom but who is not necessarily sociable or with whom the “feeling does not pass”.
● see in the distance a wild or domestic animal that he decides to pursue. Unfortunately, it can happen that, in its pursuit, your dog does not pay attention to the environment and is crushed or loses track of you after following a long trail,
● goes to meet people who clearly don’t want to be approached by a dog,
● goes to meet another dog when his owners do not particularly want this contact to take place,
● has spotted a female in heat that he decides to join,
● tends to eat anything and everything on a walk and ingests inedible and/or toxic foods.
There are of course many other potentially dangerous situations, but beyond the security aspect, walking an off-leash dog should not invade another person’s space. It is very important not to subject others to your own choices and decisions without their consent. So, walking a dog without a leash requires some precautions.
Precautions to follow when walking your dog without a leash
The learning of the recall must be mastered
To prevent the few situations mentioned above, the learning of recall must be acquired and mastered to perfection. However, despite a very thorough training, it can be very difficult for a dog to resist the call of a female in heat or a passing game, even if its recall is almost perfect the rest of the time.
Walking without a leash should not be synonymous with “vagrancy” »
It is very important to make the difference between walking your dog off-leash, on foot, and allowing your dog to go and let off steam in a chosen area!
Verification and knowledge of the area is required
As a handler, you must always check the environment and guarantee a certain level of safety, both for your dog and for the individuals who will cross your dog’s path.
The dog walking without a leash must not make contact with people
This is very important because many people do not necessarily want to be approached by a dog or do not particularly want a dog to come and sniff theirs. It is a matter of good manners and it is essential to respect everyone’s space and not to impose your dog on others.
A dog walking without a leash should not be without “collar “
It is recommended first of all to have your dog wear a collar or harness with your contact details if you ever lose your pet, but also to catch it easily if, for example, it starts a fight between fellow dogs or if it persists in unwelcome contact, whether with another dog or a human.
The use of GPS for more security
It is very common nowadays, there are GPS to hang around the neck of dogs particularly quick to take the powder away. Nevertheless, it is, in my opinion, common sense not to walk your dog without a leash if he tends to run away regularly or if his recall is not fully controlled.
Finally, when you decide to walk your dog off-leash, whether in any place, learning to walk off-leash is just as important as learning to recall.
Teach your dog to walk without a leash
First of all, let’s be clear about the terms: teaching your dog to walk off-leash means teaching your dog to walk off-leash. This is quite different from learning natural follow-up or recall. These learnings will certainly have to be acquired in all cases for safer walks, but this is indeed the learning of off-leash walking.
Thus, as you will have probably guessed, learning to walk without a leash is absolutely not possible if the learning of so-called “classic” walking (implied with a leash) is not mastered. I, therefore, invite you to consult our article on learning to walk at the foot if it is not completely acquired by your dog.
It is also important to remember that, for some dogs, learning to walk off-leash will simply not be possible, I am thinking in particular of dogs with a very highly developed hunting and chasing instinct, which will clearly not be able to resist a good smell to follow for example. So of course, it is customary to say that each dog is “modular” and that each behavior can be improved, worked on or otherwise, but in my opinion, it is important to respect the true nature of the dog in front of you and not to ask him for more than he is able to offer.
The steps of the training process
As you will have understood, training your dog to walk without a leash can be a very time-consuming task. Here are some key steps to follow to initiate this learning:
: Walk on a leash must be perfect. Your dog should follow all your movements and changes of direction as if a plaster was connecting him to your leg, without there being any tension in the leash.
Step 2: Since the sound of the clip connecting the leash to your dog’s collar or harness is very often a triggering sound for puppies, pretend to detach your dog and make the sound of the clip, without detaching your dog: see if it reacts.
Step 3: If your dog reacts and starts leaving as if he were detached, it means that learning needs to be reinforced. Do not hesitate to repeat step 2 as many times as necessary. And if, on the contrary, your dog has not reacted and remains at your feet, then you can move on to the next step (while still reinforcing step 2 regularly).
Step 4: If your dog has not reacted, you can pretend to detach him, create the sound of the clip but always leaving the leash that you can either leave lying around (with the risk that it bothers him) or put it on his neck for example (the best thing here is to have a short leash of one meter). So keep walking like this and see if your dog is still following your movements.
Step 5: If your dog successfully completes all the steps of off-leash walking training, you can complicate the exercises a little bit by offering them in increasingly challenging environments while respecting, in each new environment, the previous steps. In other words, with each new environment, it is important to start from the beginning to reinforce what has been achieved and start on a good foundation.