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So this morning I took Gunther out for a walk at 6 am. We made our way to the park and played some fetch to burn some energy off, and then we went off into the woods for a hike. Since it was so early and no one was around, I decided to try a little experiment and ventured off to the trails with Gunther with his leash off.

I remember watching a video somebody posted here (I can't remember who now) about training their dog to heel using a frisbee as the motivator and reward. I decided after I saw that video that I was going to start some training outside with his ball, because there is very little else that is so high value to him. Every time we would go play fetch, we would spend a little time working on "heel" off leash. That and "watch me".

Anyway, I was a little nervous but mostly curious to see what would happen once we got to the trails. I was so happy and surprised when Gunther walked next to me almost the whole time. A few times he walked on ahead, which I was okay with too. He never got too far ahead of me, and would turn around and wait for me to catch up.
I am happy about this and I'm going to start making this off leash walk a regular thing now at least a few mornings each week.

Since I've joined this board, I've gotten lots of ideas from everyone here on how to improve our training and time together, and Gunther and I thank everyone here for your wisdom and continued advice.
 

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Excellent!
It takes a lot of time and training to trust your dog off the hook...
When you can do this...thats when you have a trained dog.
 

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Congratulations on the good work to both of you! :)
 

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Congrats!!! When you're satisfied, slowly introduce gentle distractions. When my dog is off-leash ( much of the time), he does not run away from me, he runs to a distraction: another dog, person, squirrel, or leftover cookie...
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Congrats!!! When you're satisfied, slowly introduce gentle distractions. When my dog is off-leash ( much of the time), he does not run away from me, he runs to a distraction: another dog, person, squirrel, or leftover cookie...
Haha, yeah that is next after we master this. I let him off leash at certain parks around here when we play, but that's different because chasing his ball and play usually takes priority over pretty much everything else for him.

He doesn't run from me, but like your pup he does like to run up to other dogs and occasionally a person.

I was so excited that he was just walking next to me instead of wandering off the trails and doing his own thing like I expected him to do. I mean, a little over 8 months ago when I got "full custody" of him, he was the world's worst puller. Now he walks loose leash, and then this! haha He's coming along pretty well so far. I feel we've bonded more, or at least we are building more trust.

Thanks everyone! I feel like this was a big deal, at least to me, because it showed me that we are making positive progress and it opens up new possibilities for us.
 
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