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Going from leashed to off leash..

825 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  lizziedog1
Hi everyone.

Today I took Roo to the most wonderful walking trail alongside the Trinity river. Its supposedly 40 miles long, I've researched it in the past but never went,despite many other dog owners mentioning it to me. Anyway, we went today. At the entrance there is a sign that states
"This is a designated Dog Park, off leash dogs are allowed.
All pit bulls must be leashed.
City Of Fort Worth"
Rosco was on his 20 footer and still had a good time swimming, walking etc. This area is well away from streets. It got me to thinking, when will I be able to know that I can trust Rosco off leash. His recall is pretty solid, he's very good regarding bikers (which is night and day compared to his puppyhood). Rollerblades and skateboards are still questionable so I don't feel that he's 100% there, but I see it in our future.

So I ask those of you who do let your dogs off leash- how did you know when you could trust your dog? Is it just a try it and see thing?
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Pick a time that there's no distractions, and give it a try. Carry good treats, and practice a bunch of shorter recalls with no distractions, then longer ones. Having a dog along who has a really good recall is also a good bonus.

ETA where is this trail? :p
Heya Dogstar,
I hopped on at [email protected] Bellaire since it's not far from my mil's house.That's not my side of town since it's near TCU but I just happened to be over there yesterday so I did a bit of investigating and found it. It was really great, you're in the metroplex,right?

I think I'll try that with the treats, good idea! He's usually easily distracted when I say "Oh lets look at this" or "Let's go this way!"
I'm still just nervous about that first time. nervous moreso for the people around us more than ourselves,lol.
So, just bumping this up to ramble. We've been working on off leash trail walking quite a bit for the past month or two. It's been hit and miss and I have a LOT to learn about doggy chemistry. This isn't quite like a dog park where ya just open the gate and off they go. (We've never been to a DP even though everyone asks me "Have ya been to the dog park?" almost daily.) We deal with a lot of oncoming dogs, sudden dogs, trailing behind dogs etc and Roo, being ALL ABOUT DOGS, has a lot to learn about just sticking with me at certain times. Even though I have had numerous dogs book it right towards us, I've never allowed him to rush up to a group.

His listening skills need a lot of sharpening because he seems to have "selective hearing" at times and does what he wants (seeking out a scent) before following through and coming to me when I call.

But overall we love it and haven't had any bad experiences (on either side) thus far. He got pushy and a bit loud with a dog yesterday because she didn't want to play with him. And we've got a lot to learn about "greet and go", not every dog has to be our BFF :rolleyes:
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You do your first off leash work in an area where if the dog does not respond he cannot take off either.

You do need to get the selective hearing to being hearing you all the time.

It is also good to be able to put your dog in a heel and have his undivided attention when another dog comes along or when walking past people or anything else.

If you don't have that AND a 100% reliable recall (even around other dogs and great smelling stuff or when chasing a squirrel), no off leash until you do.
You have to have control of the dog, or control of the environment. If you have neither, Murphy's Law applies.
I walk Rufus on a 50' rope that he drags. It gives him a lot of freedom, and lets me have control. By not holding it prevents all most all tangles, he can pull it around trees and through brush. I found that a long leash in my hand tangled so much that it was hard to walk with on most trails. I use a 3/8" inch poly rope with a carabineer on one end. The poly floats when he swims. I wouldn't let him swim in strong currents though.

When I do recalls I have a foot ready to step on the rope if he doesn't respond. The same when he wanders off trail.

Rufus has a way to go before he will be allowed off leash. Ideally he would stay within 50' of me off leash and look to me for direction when encountering any other hikers. He now will look to me when the trail splits and sometime take direction by hand signals as long as there isn't high stimulus on one of the trails.

So I ask those of you who do let your dogs off leash- how did you know when you could trust your dog? Is it just a try it and see thing?
Find a very large field that is fenced in on all sides. Test your dog on his ability to come on command. If your dog doesn't do well here, the fences will avert a complete disaster. If he passes this test, he might do well in other places.
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