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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello, so I've been looking for a dog for several months now. As some backstory--I've had an australian shepherd/border collie (not sure which but she was DEFINITELY one of those) and an alaskan malamute. So I have some experience with high energy dogs. They definitely had off switches and they could be lazy, but with the aussie/border especially they still had energy to burn and a lot of troublemaking smarts.

Fast forward to today, I'm looking to get either a border collie or belgian sheepdog (groenendael). The latter is my dream dog, so I'm leaning toward them. I'm typically an energetic person, I've been known to walk and bike for miles on end, and I LOVE being outdoors. My only issue is... I live in a slightly urban area (I use the term loosely because there are so many parks and trails and outdoor stuff around, and it's a small town) with strict leash laws and I do not drive, so there is really no place for the dog to run off leash in my town. There is a dog park, but I'm not a fan of them, especially with a herding breed that could be reactive, and ESPECIALLY with a puppy that isn't fully vaccinated. When they're older I could see possibly using a dog park when no one is around, but it's not ideal.

I have plenty of activities planned, both mental and physical. I want to do frisbee, obviously obedience training, scent work, hiking, and a plethora of other activities. However I'm worried the off-leash thing is a dealbreaker with any breeds I'm interested in. Is it impossible to have a high energy breed with nowhere to run off leash daily?

I'm thinking maybe there are some places I could take advantage of that I haven't thought of yet. I've also thought if I get a 30-50ft leash that would satisfy their need to run. I also obviously plan to go out of town now and again to more wide open spaces.

But I guess what I'm looking for is advice and tips. I don't get anything helpful when I try to research on google--heck, I just get a bunch of ads for long leads. So help is appreciated!
 

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I've never had those breeds and do have a large yard so I can't answer your basic question, but just thought I'd mention that you need to put a lid on your desire to hike and bike with a puppy. Until they're full grown with bones and ligaments completely developed, too much or too vigorous exercise can cause problems. Probably you already know that, but....

Is there any chance a nearby dog park might be empty if you got there at 0 dark 30?

Since I'm considering a puppy in the next year or two, I've been looking into all the ways to keep a busy puppy occupied myself. There sure are a lot more things like food puzzles for dogs than there were when I got my first puppies.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Oh yes of course, I would never do rigorous exercise with a puppy. I guess I was just speaking generally for my new dog, throughout their lifetime while I live here. Things will be much lower key at first, but after the first year is my biggest concern.

I think the dog park would definitely be empty early in the morning. It's not especially busy any other time either, but it's not something I'd like to frequent every day if I can help it, which is why I'm seeing if anyone has advice for alternatives.

There's definitely so much now that you can use to keep a puppy busy, it's really nice. Good luck on your future pup!
 

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Just curious, why do you have to run your dog off leash (when your dog is mature enough to run)? If you enjoy jogging on the trails, could you jog on leash? I def wouldn't let a pup who wasn't fully vaccinated roam around freely.
 

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Since you do not drive that eliminates training agility.

I think the best thing would be to find a lower energy dog breed or find a way to learn to drive so you can access other areas and some really fun training venues.

I also hate dog parks. Never will I take a dog I own to one. Too many chances for fights and disease (even in vaccinated dogs).
 

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You have done well job with your dog. You can take care of their diet and meet similar dog to educate using training
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I probably didn't make it clear, but I'm definitely not taking an unvaccinated puppy to any doggy areas. :p I also do have access to agility equipment. The dog would be well exercised in body and mind, so really the only thing I'm looking for advice-wise is if it's advised to have a high energy dog if they can't run off leash daily, and any tips for that. Also if long leads (30-50ft) are a good alternative.
 

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I've found long leads to be very helpful with our boys - we have a national ban on off-leash dogs here during the spring to protect baby wildlife, so off leash hikes are completely off the table then. I stick to smooth, rolled, handle-less long lines for our walks in fields and wooded areas - like this - because they don't snag as easily on brush or roots as braided ones do. And if my dogs do go around a tree or into the brush, I can drop the lead and grab it on the other side of the obstruction to pull it through without a handle getting tangled or caught. If I had bigger dogs, I might go for a flat biothane lead - something like this - for a little better grip. Neither style is immune to snagging or tangling, but you'll have better luck than with anything braided, and they stay cleaner to boot. I do use standard braided or nylon webbing long-lines on occasion for certain kinds of training, but not on walks or hikes where there's a lot to get tangled it.

Handling long-lines like this in a safe and effective way does take practice. My goal is always to have the leash slack, but not dragging on the ground, because that minimizes snagging, stepping on the lead, tangling you or the dog, etc. I don't always succeed, haha, but do know that figuring out how to gather and release the line in a way that works for you and your dog takes practice. I think I started with some of Grisha Stewart's long line skills, from her BAT 2.0 book, but I wouldn't recommend buying the whole book just for that (I love it, but it is specifically about working with reactivity, so not applicable to all dogs). You might be able to find videos or articles free about it, though.

Some people have better success with retractable lines for the above reasons. I personally don't like them as much, but it's an option if you keep some things mind:

First, I'd (personally) only put a dog who already has good leash manners and no issues with meeting other dogs/people on a retractable line - they have more moving parts, and are therefore more prone to breaking, with the locking mechanism being a common point of failure. But sometimes the whole darn leash can come out of the handle. You can see why that'd be a concern with dogs who pull a lot or get worked up (even if it's just excitement) when they encounter wildlife or other walkers/dogs. The bigger and stronger the dog, the more you have to think about that.

Second, I'd only ever recommend tape-style retractables (as opposed to the cord-style). This way, if you do have to grab the lead itself for whatever reason, you're less likely to wind up with nasty rope burns on your hands, and it's less likely to create a nasty tourniquet situation if the line gets wrapped around a finger or dog limb.

Third, retractable handles 'chase' the dog if they get dropped, which many dogs find extremely freaky, so they can be harder to maneuver if the line does get tangled and there's extra worries if the handle gets yanked out of your hand. My biggest problem with retractables for my situation is that I don't feel like I can keep as good a grip on those bulky handles as I can on a long line.

But don't get me wrong, they're way easier to keep out of brush and roots and whatnot. I've even used them with my (small) leash reactive dog in areas where I'm 90% sure we won't meet any other dogs. And I know some people find regular long lines more difficult to manage and higher risk for them because they're more likely to get wrapped up in things and can be more difficult to 'break' a dog with when they take off running. I'm obviously biased because long lines are what works for me, but so long as you use the retractables safely and responsibly (they get an extra bad rap because some people who use them let their dogs wander up to strange dogs, people, into busy roads, etc.), they're a totally legit option.
 

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I'm glad I read this thread, I never knew about long-leashes. We have the same problem as the OP. Can you (or anyone) recommend a good tractable long lead leash? There is an open field nearby that would be great for our dog to run around on. Even with her 16' retractable she still runs in circles at times, but when she cut corners it really yanks the leash hard.
Too bad there isn't a leash available with a bungee-type section for when they run too far and fast.
 

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I've only ever had medium-high-energy dogs (a Samoyed, a malamute/collie mix, a papillon, and an Alaskan Klee Kai) and none of them have been off-leash dogs. I lived with the two smaller ones in an apartment in a big city, even. If you can tire out the dog's mind with training and puzzle toys, and can take it on long walks/bike rides, and can occasionally let it run off-leash in an empty dog park or (like I did) a fenced sports field when it's not in use, the dog will be just fine. Dogs do not need to run off leash every single day.
 

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@Tater33 They're often sold as 'tracking lines' over here, because they're commonly used in game or blood tracking, so you might have some luck looking specifically at hunting dog gear? I typically use 15m long ones (~50ft), although practically speaking it's a little shorter because I almost never let it out the entire way. It's a lot harder for a dog to pull the line out of your hands if it's gathered a couple times than if you're just trying to hold onto the single smooth end on its own.

I didn't deliberately teach it (I probably should've), but both my dogs do know when I call out 'hey' or 'easy' that they're approaching the end of the line and need to watch their speed. And we practice long line recalls a lot so I can use that when they're threatening to blow past the end of the line or I spot a distraction I don't want them going after. You definitely have less control with a long line than a traditional leash, so vocal cues and commands become pretty important, because sometimes you need those extra few second to gather up the line or avoid them hitting the end full-throttle.

Oh, and I should've said before, but: long lines should only ever be used with a well-fitting harness. Even dogs with excellent leash manners can misjudge distance on a long line, and when they do hit the end, it's with way more force than a regular leash thanks to the momentum they can build up. You do not want that force on your dog's neck, period.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you guys for the advice! I'm relieved to hear I'm not the only one in an area with some restrictive leash laws. The long leads really feel like the best option so far, and although I'm wary of retractable leads I will probably look into them as well just to explore all of my options.

I was so worried honestly that this would be a big hindrance, and seeing as I want a high energy breed it was a big concern of mine. I've even done some research on land around me outside of the town limits where I could run my dog off leash. I'm wondering what kind of places are good to take advantage of besides normal parks and dog parks?

@Tater33 I'm glad you got some useful info from my thread as well. =P I also hadn't heard of long leads until I looked into getting a Groenendael.

and @DaySleepers thank you for the long thought out post! I'm going to be keeping your advice in mind. I have little experience with long leads so thanks bigtime for the heads up.
 

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I used to live in town with an Australian Shepherd/Collie mix who was fairly high energy. He can and would run until he collapsed if there was something fun to do. He's "middle aged" now so has a bit more sense than that at this point, haha. I almost exclusively walked him on a 100 ft long line and harness I purchased from Amazon for his exercise. We had a medium sized yard that wasn't at all large enough for him to reach full speed, and I don't think he ever reached full speed on the long line, either, but it did allow him more freedom and more exercise that he needed.

I should also disclose we did agility once a week, which helped to keep his brain and exercise needs satisfied.

We now live on a 22 acre piece of property and the only time I put him on a leash is when we have to go to leave the property, and I will say it is much easier to keep him exercised when he has the freedom to run because I have to put much less thought and time into it than I did before. He's also gained muscle and it's far easier to keep him at a healthy weight than it was when leashed walks, even long line walks, were our only option. My dog is a neutered male, so in the winter especially when it was too cold for extended outside excursions I felt like I was struggling to keep him at a healthy weight.

So, from someone who has experience on both sides of the coin, I will say that your high energy dog can get enough stimulation on leashed walks if you get creative with long lines and/or puzzle games, but it is so much easier when your dog can get some off-leash exercise in!
 

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Both breeds you are considering are great agility dogs.
Do you have a bike? You could bike with your dog and that would allow them to run. (A walky-dog attachment is super secure) Maybe a treadmill? I just got a dog that has used a treadmill in the past. I'm looking for one to give her more exercise in inclement weather.
Sounds like you have most of your bases covered. Mental exercise is SO important.
 
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