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I'm a paranoid dog mom

1440 Views 15 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Kensi
My dog listens fine on a dragging lead. I tried removing it once before, but reliability decreased, so I put it back on, and have been doing some focused "off-leash" reliability training. How do you know when your dog is ready to have it removed? All our fencing is barbed wire for the cows, (except for the goat field, and I don't trust the billy with her lol) so I can't put her in a big fenced area to test it.
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Honestly? It's a leap of faith at some point. But I guess the more important question is this: What additional positive experience are you hoping/expecting that your dog will gain from being totally 'off leash'? If your dog is getting sufficient mental + physical exercise, then I don't see the absolute necessity to push beyond your comfort level & allow full off leash freedom in an unsecured area. What's the harm if she has to drag a leash? or be on a long line? Depending on your immediate vicinity & environment, pushing the card & potentially 'losing' her could be a huge deal, or not much of a problem in the least (as long as she wanders home at some point) So... it's pretty much up to you. If you're worried - keep her on leash & don't worry about depriving your dog of some sort of magical dog experience. As long as she's happy, healthy & you provide proper enrichment experiences that allow her to 'dog' from time to time, then I think it's all good.
Well, it would be more convenient for me to have her off leash while doing chores on the farm. It would also be more fun for her if she could hike off-leash with me. And dragging leads are such a hassle, they get stuck on things, or tangle in barbed wire, or scare the horses (I guess they think its a snake lol). I definitely will not do it until I'm sure- as you said, it could turn out to be a huge deal. However, I think in my situation, and with a wicked-high energy border collie/spaniel mix, the benefits outweigh the risks- once she's trained.
Thanks for the input, it's been helpful! :)
Have you tried to clip on a traffic handle to mimic the effect of her dragging a leash? I've heard that working for some other dogs.
Interesting, I've actually never thought of that- I'll try it, thanks!
i would never have a drag lead on a dog in the vicinity of horses, that has risks to both dog and horses more than just the dog taking off
Okay, I realize that my comment was vague. I always keep a barrier between the horses and the dogs, when we are with the horses. (with the cows I don't because she helps a bit with herding, but then she doesn't need a drag lead, she doesn't want to go anywhere.) But if the horses are on one side of the fence, and she's on the other, and they see the line in the grass, they freak out, which isn't fair to them or safe. Because of this, if we're around the horses, she has to have a handheld leash, which is, of course, a pain. That is (part of) why I want to improve her off leash- so that when dealing with the horses, I don't have to leave her inside. (to further clarify, it is technically the farm of a relative, so I can't really make any major changes)
The barbed wire would worry me too. That stuff can be nasty and has done serious damage to dogs who hit it at speed.
Definitely. We did extensive training with our dog- she got a few minor (thankfully) scratches when we first got her, but because of the way the wires are spaced, there's a pretty low probability of her getting seriously cut. Also, in many areas, it's electric, and she hears the noise and avoids it entirely. I'd encourage anyone with a farm dog to do rigorous training with barbed wire fences.
Wow, what you said about that Boston is crazy- yeah, you really can't be to careful around horses. I don't plan on ever working her up to being loose with them- she is always going to be separated, I've heard too many bad stories to do otherwise.
I had actually heard of recallers, but had never had it recommended to me, I was a bit unsure. I might check it out now. I'll look at those books too, Thanks!
There's always going to be a risk...only you can decide if you want to take it. I, too, live in a rural area, and my dog is off leash pretty much all the time. The leash only comes out when we go to town for agility classes. But, he's almost 6 years old, he's a herding mixed breed (i.e. velcro dog), he is incredibly food motivated, and he is not prone to wander.

I probably wouldn't trust him to the extent I do now until he was at least 2 years old, and even then I would have kept a much closer eye on him. About a week after we moved to our place in the country, I forgot I let him outside, panicked 3 hours later, ran outside, and found him sleeping under a tree. I knew then he was probably pretty safe off-leash, and that he didn't really have any desire to wander too far.

In addition to working on recall, always make sure to reward for voluntary check ins. I love it when my dog makes a good choice like that all on his own! I also found that recalls were much more fun for the dog when I didn't do them very much...they can quickly become a boring drill. Like others have said, find recall games. Hide and seek, round robin, keep away.
My dog's a border collie mix, she does like to stay close, but I'm so afraid I won't be able to call her back from a potentially dangerous situation. There's always the possibility that the "mix" will take over too, I suppose, lol
I will start rewarding for voluntary check-ins, I had heard that, but I guess never really did it much. Thanks!
Is round robin the one where you call the dog back and forth between a bunch of people?
Yes, round robin is getting called by a bunch of different people, generally people in your family/household. I guess I don't care very much if my dog fails to respond to a stranger's recall, haha. We used to like to run around and kind of play "tag" with it. It works better if you have 3+ people, because a smart dog will figure out that he can just bounce back and forth between two people for treats, regardless of whether a recall cue has been given or not.
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