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My 23-month-old Jackapoo (Jack Russell/Poodle mix) has been to puppy classes, has had one-on-one training, yet he still runs away in the park. We walk him with our 11-year-old labrador, in the same park every weekday, and he knows most of the other dogs that come there. Yet when we let him run around off the leash he runs out of the park, crosses the road (luckily it's not a very busy road, but it still could be dangerous) and goes into the garden of the same house each time.

It's a house where no dogs or other pets live, so we're not sure why he goes there. The woman who lives in the house gets quite angry and it's embarrassing as our dog will not come back, no matter how often we call him. We have tried tempting him back with treats, but nothing seems to work.

We then keep him on the leash for the next few days, which is no fun for him as he likes running around. Then after a few days on the lease, we then try letting him off again. He's usually good for several days, but then the same thing happens all over again and he leaves the park to go to the same garden again.

We don't know what to do! Any ideas would be very welcome!
 

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If he doesn't have a reliable recall, then don't let him off lead until he does. If you want to give him a bit of freedom, then use a long line. Some dogs never reach the point where they can be safely let off lead.
 

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As others have said, quit letting him off the leash. Only when a dog comes immediately, every time you call it, no matter where it is, what it's doing or what or who is around the dog do they get to run off leash. In other words, when the dog is eating a fresh steak and will drop the meat and come when called, he gets off leash - otherwise no unless he's in a fenced, dog safe, escape proof area.

No amount of yelling is going to teach him a good recall. Luring him with food, reward the running off and not listening - he's trained you to come to him and feed him for running out of the park. That isn't what you want and, it's going to take time to improve his recall and, beak that learned behavior.
 

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Quit letting the dog off leash. He is not reliable, and he's going to have an accident if you keep trying your luck. Instead, use a long line and a harness. It still allows him freedom, but you have control.

You're going to need to work more on his recall before you try to let him off leash again. He's young, so it really is not unusual for him to want to blow you off, but you can't let him get away with it time and again. A long line give him no choice. Even with lots and lots of work, he may never be reliable. Some dogs just aren't. So a long line with harness may always be necessary.
 

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Jack Russels (JRT for short) are not known for being exceptional obedience dogs. They are very good at working independently and will got to ground and battle with Badgers and Fox.. with the former being a very tough customer!

While you own a mixed breed mutt, it appears the JRT genes may be more prevalent than the other genes. BOTH breeds are very active and busy so you have a lot of energy to deal with coupled with the independent nature.

You cannot let this dog off leash.

He probably goes to that one house because she may have flower beds with moles, mice of chipmunks. Your dog is doing what one of his breeds was designed to do. That is self rewarding to the dog and self rewarding behavior that is genetically based is unlikely to be overcome by training.

Again, as others have said, this is not an off leash dog. In this case you get to be smarter than the dog. You know he won't recall and you know he will run off when he is unleashed. Keep him leashed.

Off leash dogs EARN that right. Your dog has not earned that right (and he may never earn that right).
 

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I know many disagree with this, but I don't believe going off leash is something that has to be earned by a dog. I come from a place (called Europe) where the great majority of dogs went off leash, so I believe this leash attitude is a cultural thing. Yes, it involves risk, like anything worthy in life. Ask any dog in the world and chances are they'll tell you that the risk is worth it.
I'm not saying that it should be free for all. Some dogs are aggressive, some dogs will start running and won't stop and I'm not talking about those cases. But take your average dog who is not necessarily trying to go on a killing spree or go on a 3 day adventure -- you will greatly improve your dog's quality of life if you allow them to go off leash in a sensible area. I agree with others that in this particular situation the dog should probably not be allowed off leash, just because you know with almost certainty that the outcome will be negative. Go to a different place, more remote, away from roads, perhaps with a dog friend? It's up to you to find something that works. I am absolutely for teaching recall -- and yes, do learn about how to do it right with small steps and positive reinforcement and proofing -- but to not allow any freedom until the recall is 100% (not an attainable goal for many dogs/situations/people's training skills) is just not fair to the dog.
And for whoever feels that letting your dog off leash is too irresponsible, just think about how many dogs end up in the shelters, put down as a result because they have behavioral problems due to having too much energy. Yes, freedom is risky, but so is the lack of it.
 

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Or instead of breaking leash laws, you could just exercise your dog on a long line, or in a fenced area, or by biking with it, or with a leashed walk and then some mental exercise, or...
 

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Julka, I get what you're saying, but I think it's a vast oversimplification of the issue. I'm an expat American who lives in Europe, as well, and yes the dog culture is VERY different over here. However, at least in Norway, we have a whole chunk of the spring where letting dogs off-leash anywhere unfenced is illegal for the protection of baby wildlife and livestock. We still have leash laws in most population centers, and they're there for a reason.

There's some parts of Europe (the UK for sure, maybe others) where dogs can be reported as a threat if someone is worried they might bite, for example, and so it is a huge advantage to owners to abide by leash laws in most circumstances. And, of course, there will always be dogs/breeds anywhere that care more about following a scent or running free than paying attention to their handler, and so will vanish into the wilderness if let off. This is particularly true for dogs trained to track and so heavily rewarded for doing so - my in-laws' dachshund isn't allowed off-lead in the woods for this reason, even when the other dogs are.

The big difference, I think, is less to do with leashes and more to do with a combination of more active lifestyles in general and largely different attitudes about dogs, dog training, etc. Norway also has the luxury of not having a dog overpopulation problem, which makes it far easier to, say, rehome a dog one can no longer look after or exercise properly. It's interesting and complex. But also not really relevant to the OP.

I think it's clear that this little pup thinks running off and getting chased and causing a fuss is great fun. Our dog discovered this "game" recently as well, when he figured out he could get out of the entry area of our apartment. We now manage this by reinforcing the area he was escaping from (not possible in a public park, I know), and if he wants to hang out there in the sunshine, he's on a harness and long-line, just in case. His recall is decent in low-distraction environments, but we just haven't done the proofing needed to get a response when there's a super rewarding game to play or dog to greet or cat poop to eat. As such, he's only off-leash in secured areas or in spaces where a sloppy recall isn't putting him or anyone else at risk (quiet forest trails, mostly). Even then, sometimes he drags a long-line so he'll be easier to grab and reign in if we're surprised by another hiker or need to get him away from a moose carcass.
 

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I'm all for off leash time IF and only IF the dog is 100% reliable on recall - the dog stops whatever it's doing IMMEDIATELY and comes to the owner, 100%, without fail, no matter the reason or distraction. Otherwise, off leash needs to be in a fenced, dog safe area ONLY.

Kaila is not old enough to have a solid recall yet. Silver is not 100% if he's chasing what he sees as prey, those two NEVER get off leash outside of a fenced, safe area.
 

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DaySleepers, I get what you're saying as well and I'm not suggesting that all dogs be allowed to be free at all times -- it's simply not the world we live in anymore.
I'm simply suggesting that the risk be understood and managed appropriately -- pretty much what you're doing with your dog.

I've met a great number of people who never let their dogs off the leash, because they THINK the dog will run away, or because they've noticed that if they somehow drop the leash their dog will just run. Dogs who never go off leash (young especially) are much more likely to attempt to enjoy their accidentaly temporary freedom to the fullest. It's not at all an indication of how they would behave if they got an appropriate amount of freedom and exercise on regular basis. It's also much more challenging to attempt to teach recall to a hyper stressed out dog.
Even under the best circumstances, failproof recall may take years, and during those years it is possible to manage things and allow your dog freedom in appropriate places.

I have a very human fearful rescue (fearful to the point of not being considered adoptable). I put a lot of effort into recall, but as long as fear is a factor (and it will likely be a factor for a very long time) it will not be fully reliable. We go out to obscure trails where few people go, we go out when it rains, when it's dark and when it's too cold for most people. He is somewhat of an extreme case, since he is terrified of any sort of confinement (being on a leash makes him uncomfortable for that reason) and he absolutely needs his freedom to de-stress and gain confidence, but I have little doubt that it's necessary for any dog to really thrive.
 

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To me, if the dog does not have a reliable recall, then it's a fence or a leash. You can work on recall in a large fenced area and, the dog is safe from running into traffic, running off and getting into trouble with another animal, wild or domestic, etc...

You can even work on recall in the house, place dog, favorite toy and/or treats in one room, call dog from across the house. Regardless of toys and treats, the dog should come to you.

I do that first, then move to 1/4 acre fenced, then a 1 acre fenced and finally, open territory but, away from roads and, obvious hazards. Some dogs can never be off leash but, even those that can may take a couple of years to get there.
 

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Totally agree with you there, Julka. Freedom is hugely motivational and rewarding for most dogs. I guess my point was more to use good judgement and know the local leash laws, and that there are definitely ways to allow a dog to experience freedom using fenced area and long line (Grisha Stewart has some great long-line handling techniques specifically designed to maximize the feeling of freedom and allow the dog to exercise a significant amount of choice). I do find the differences in dog culture between the US and Europe (well, this part of Europe, can't speak for elsewhere) fascinating, and I think they run deeper than on leash/off leash.

Heck, when I was in the US, the area I lived in meant I had to either stick to the neighborhood (only safe because it was a dead-end neighborhood, we had no sidewalks or trails), or drive a good 15 minutes to somewhere else. Not great when you've got a dog prone to carsickness. Over here, there's so many more accommodations for walkers and cyclists - both sidewalks and hiking - that it's dizzying.

I think in the end, everyone has to evaluate what's safe for their dog and their situation, based on the level of training and the outdoor areas they have access to. For the OP, that sounds like it may mean fenced areas and long-lines for the time being, while they work on a stronger recall. For my Sam, I'm comfortable with his natural orbit and recall on quiet woodland trails - and he is absolutely more responsive when I can afford him that freedom regularly and he doesn't feel like he has to 'enjoy it while he's got it'! As well as it being good for his reactivity and stress levels overall. My feeling is, so long as I'm not endangering others with my actions, and I'm comfortable with the level of risk I'm taking letting my dog off-leash, that's fine. And yes, I consider letting my rude greeter run up to other dogs "endangering others", so if I can't be reasonably certain we'll be alone on the trail, he's on a long-line.

Of course, I also don't have to worry about all the very significant liability and regulations that come along with owning a wolf hybrid, so I can afford a bit of laxity - hats off to you, Bluemoods, for being so conscientious about training.
 

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It is different here, most if not all communities have leash laws, pets must be contained and controlled at all times, on leash or in a fenced area. Off leash doesn't happen outside of a fenced area at home. The best we get is a dog park, if we are fortunate enough to live near one.

We do have some dog friendly cafes and stores but, not many and, even there, they have to be leashed.

Off leash here is a beach, remote forested area or, other rural location and, then, there are abandoned strays, wild animals and other hazards. To be off leash there, the dog MUST recall immediately PERIOD. A failed recall might mean a dog fight with a stray, a venomous snake bite, face full of porcupine quills or skunk spray, run in with coyotes or, in some areas wolves, etc... There are toxic plants the dog could eat, there are animal droppings that may contain parasites, a myriad of hazards. Fool proof recall is a must as far as I'm concerned and, it has saved those of mine that can be off leash a world of hurt several times.
 

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I know many disagree with this, but I don't believe going off leash is something that has to be earned by a dog. I come from a place (called Europe) where the great majority of dogs went off leash, so I believe this leash attitude is a cultural thing. Yes, it involves risk, like anything worthy in life. Ask any dog in the world and chances are they'll tell you that the risk is worth it.
I'm not saying that it should be free for all. Some dogs are aggressive, some dogs will start running and won't stop and I'm not talking about those cases. But take your average dog who is not necessarily trying to go on a killing spree or go on a 3 day adventure -- you will greatly improve your dog's quality of life if you allow them to go off leash in a sensible area. I agree with others that in this particular situation the dog should probably not be allowed off leash, just because you know with almost certainty that the outcome will be negative. Go to a different place, more remote, away from roads, perhaps with a dog friend? It's up to you to find something that works. I am absolutely for teaching recall -- and yes, do learn about how to do it right with small steps and positive reinforcement and proofing -- but to not allow any freedom until the recall is 100% (not an attainable goal for many dogs/situations/people's training skills) is just not fair to the dog.
And for whoever feels that letting your dog off leash is too irresponsible, just think about how many dogs end up in the shelters, put down as a result because they have behavioral problems due to having too much energy. Yes, freedom is risky, but so is the lack of it.
Here in the US in Upstate NY we have large areas where you can have a dog off leash. Some of it is private land (where there is permission to the individual who has asked) and some is public land where the rule is not a leash rule, but states the dog must be "under control" and off leash is allowed and common. One such "under control" area is the 6 million acre Adirondack Forest Preserve along with the 3 million acre Catskill forest preserve. State forests mostly have the same rule.

Of course, if you are hiking in these areas and the dog is off leash they must have earned the right. A dog that gets lost in 6 million acres because it took off after a deer is a dog that will probably not be recovered.

I use an e collar on the dog. The dog has been trained for this. The e collar is used to reinforce a solid recall, especially if the dog takes off after some prey item like a deer. I always put one on a dog I am hiking with off leash. I can say I have rarely ever used it for the purpose of recall because my dogs have had a LOT of training.

In Europe there is large pressure from Animal Rights fanatics. These people have, in some areas, made e collars illegal. Therefore, if you are working a dog off leash, that dog better have a fool proof recall if you are in Europe. A fool proof recall is worked and as a result, the dog can have more freedom in an appropriate area. That is what I mean by the dog must earn off leash freedom.

If your dog gets away from you and had an unreliable recall, it is likely that dog will encounter a car or truck and lose the encounter. Is the notion of "off leash quality of life" worth a dead dog? I think Animal rights people would say yes.............

I would disagree!

Meanwhile, I do not live in Europe. I have almost 6 acres of land and I am surrounded by 97 acres of woods. I have good recall on my dogs and I use an e collar as a back up to my recall when they are off leash and not in the fenced yard.

An e collar is NOT what I would advise for the Original Poster. That dog and handler have a relationship issue that an e collar will not fix.
 

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I totally get it. As I said, it'll depend heavily on the individual. Removed from other dogs and people, Sam has a very good recall and little prey drive, and I'm lucky enough to have access to quiet woodland trails far enough from roads/farmland that I've assessed it as being safe enough for my comfort level. It helps that we're also in an area with very few dangerous animals, though I am absolutely more careful in adder season. I also agree that everyone should always follow leash laws: Sam is always on a long-line during the off-leash ban in the spring, and during hunting season, even though it's not specifically banned then.

Oda (my in-laws' hunting dachshund) is, however, never allowed off-lead in the woods, because she doesn't give a fig about us people when she's got a scent in her nose, and will happily wander off never to be seen again. She's perfectly safe hanging out in the garden at my in-laws' place, however, while Sam needs to be on a lead because he'll absolutely try to greet people in the road whereas she just finds a place in the sun to snooze.

There's a risk, and I've accepted that, and to us the benefits are worth it. Other people are going to have different comfort levels, as well as different kinds of dangers and risks based on their areas and the kinds of spaces they have access to. If Sam were a flight risk, I would not let him off leash, period, until I felt that his behavior was at an acceptable level. If we were in an area with more active dangers, I'd also reassess. So, in my opinion, he is "good enough" to have "earned" his freedom in select circumstances. I don't find that so unreasonable, even though he still has circumstances where he's not reliable. I simply do my best to avoid those.

And, despite living in a country with an e-collar ban and not being entirely opposed to it, I don't agree with the extremist views of the Animal Rights movement nor the frequently violent and illegal (or at the very least grossly dishonest) methods they employ.
 

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3GSD4IPO, I am located in Upstate NY as well so very familiar with the area. I think my main point is.. the likelihood of your dog getting lost or getting hit by a car or having an encounter with a wild animal is not that high. Yes, absolutely there is a chance. And yes, absolutely, you are better off if you can train your dog recall.
When I first came to the US as I kid I had an airedale who did wonder (I didn't know anything about training since my parents got me this dog when I was 11 yo and they knew nothing about the difficulty of the breed). I did take him to Harriman SP on the weekends (we lived in Brooklyn) and he did tend to wonder. At times I had to wait for him for 2-3 hours at the trailhead. I did always think that he would get hit by a car, but he ended up dying of cancer at almost 13. In the end I was happy that he got to go on all his adventures.
I'm not at all saying this is the best way to go, and again, I'm all for training a dog to come when called. Back then, I did the best I could with what I knew, which was not a whole lot. BUT.. my point is, all the horrible things that people imagine happening to their dog if they're free here are greatly exaggarated in their minds. Yes, it's possible for a dog to get lost in the adirondacks and the catskills, but the great majority of dogs have enough sense to not do that. Chances of them getting hit by a car are also relatively small, obviously if you don't let them off leash near roads. Many dogs will not even leave your sight voluntarily. When I got my previous pup (purebred mutt) from the shelter and took him to the woods for the first time, the instant he took his eyes off me, I hid behind a tree. He started to panic and didn't really leave my sight for the next 12 years. Sometimes I would forget to even put a collar on him when we went out.
During all those years he did get quilled by a porcupine twice, got sprayed by a skunk (same skunk!!) twice and got bit by a copperhead -- none of those things were life-threatening and I'd say a small price to pay for a life of freedom. All these things happened to him when he was within my sight. My airedale who wondered by himself for hours never had anything bad happen to him at all.
Yes, many dogs are not that easy, but many are. Many dogs will wonder but will likely keep an eye on you. Many will take off and be out of sight, but the overwhelming majority will come back to you, because dogs love their people and have no desire to become homeless. Again, I absolutely understand that there is risk involved, but I also wish people understood the extent of that risk and that for their dog it may be very small -- perhaps smaller than it is for you driving to work and having a collision with a deer on the road.

My current pup, who is an extremely athletic dobie mix, will chase deer and had to get quilled once by a porcupine in order to now leave them alone. He actually did stop this morning as he was chasing deer when I told him to (a very proud moment for us). Yes, I have been working on recall for a while now, but I think a big part of it is that he's done his share of chasing deer and maybe got it out of his system to some extent at the ripe old age of 2.5 yo.
It is also, as you said, about your relationship with your dog and how much your dog respects your views on things.
 

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I absolutely, cheerfully, let my dogs off leash and I absolutely, entirely, recognize that there is some risk in doing so.

But much like participating in high impact, highly demanding dog sports where injury is very, very possible like agility or, I don't know IPO, when properly trained and conditioned to the activity the benefits to the dog far, far outweighs the risk. For me and my dogs, anyway, everyone is going to come down somewhere different on that, based on locations they have access to, laws, their dogs and their training skills.

As for wildlife - I've had deer and bear in my YARD and snakes in my HOUSE. You train for that, just like you train for anything else.

Barring, of course, other issues that make a given dog completely unsuitable for being off leash, at which point you recognize the limitations of the dog and/or your training. Or just not wanting to, at which point you acknowledge you just don't want to.

And there IS no such thing as 100% reliable recall. There is 99% reliable, even 99.9%, but 100% does not exist in functional reality. There is ALWAYS a possibility, because you are working with a dog, not a computer.
 

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To me 100% is leaving prey, food, toys, affection, eliminating, sleeping, another dog, anything to come when called. The two I do allow off leash do come regardless of what else they are doing, they drop it and come form anywhere within ear shot for them. The other two are a case of one that will not recall off food and, one puppy that has yet to learn a solid recall. Those two do not get off leash except in a fenced area.

They haven't earned that freedom. None of them can be off leash and out of a fence except in remote areas, that's the law. In towns and cities they MUST be fenced or leashed as must all pets. Yes my home is rural but, unlike the neighbors, I am not do ruse as to allow my dogs to roam and get into trash, dig up gardens, chase livestock, etc...

To me not controlling your dog is rude and, that includes being able to do so off leash should someone come to the area that does not trust or like dogs, your needs to come to you to be leashed NOW. they have to leave a snake, road kill, whatever and come for safety and health reasons PERIOD. One fail and that dog will not be off leash without more work on recall.

A failed recall, to me, is MY failure, I did not train the recall well enough. Maybe the dog will never get it, but, I never stop trying until they get it or, the dog passes form this world. Same for any command I feel they need to obey without question.
 

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I have dogs I can and have called off everything under the sun, including actively chasing prey. In fact, I can do that with all but 1, and that one is DEAF.

That isn't the point.

The point is, any time you let any dog off leash you acknowledge and accept that there is *some* remote possibility that the dog will fail to recall for whatever reason *this time*, even if they never have before.

You let them off leash at all based on the fact that, so far, they've given you every reason to trust them and your training and that reduces the risk to a level that is acceptable to you - the risk is much lower than the benefit.

But they ARE animals and living beings with emotions, thoughts and impulses, existing and interacting in an entirely uncontrolled environment. Shit happens.

To deny that there is ANY risk is akin to sticking your head in the sand to stroke your own ego. That does nothing. Claiming '100%' of a dog, any dog, no matter how well trained, frankly makes people snort and dismiss you because everyone with a brain KNOWS no living creature in an uncontrolled environment can be guaranteed to perform with 100% consistency. They MIGHT, but until they dog's dead, the potential remains.

Again: I let my dogs off leash in uncontrolled environments ALL THE TIME. I have never had a dog fail a recall. I've had dogs who were never outside of fences or off leash in the past, One of my dogs now didn't earn off leash privileges until he was over 3 years old, but never had a problem.

Hell will freeze before I claim 100%. Because they're dogs.
 
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