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Discussion Starter #1
Both me and my boyfriend are having a hard time finding an answer to this, I was wondering when is the best time to start off-lead training?

My dog is a Shar-Pei cross (with WE THINK a German Shepherd because she looks like one xD) and she's 7 months old.

We have a 6ft lead for her at the moment because whenever she can, she bloody legs it. Like over the wall or through holes in the fence etc etc.

She is very responsive to positive reinforcement, currently I'm training recall by calling her name and giving her a treat when she comes back to me. It's working very well but all this is on the 6ft lead.

Problem is, she knows she's on a lead and can't get very far. I would like to take her to the fields near our house (which is away from roads) and try dropping the lead but my boyfriend seems to think she's too young.

She's micro-chipped and tagged by the way.

Her attention span is very short and she's very easily distracted by other dogs or people and she'll leg it at first sight. She's not violent, she's exactly the opposite. Too friendly and it worries me in case she runs to a not-so-friendly dog or owner.

I was wondering what you guys thought or any tips and hints you could give me?

Thankies :D
 

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A very good place to start would be to get a longer lead to use just for this type of training. You can get a 25 ft lead. That way, she gets the feeling that she has some freedom, but she really doesn't.
 

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Move to a thirty foot leash, and work on recalls with that. You can even just get a long, light rope and a leash clip and make one. Once she's doing well with that, then move to dropping the leash but still rewarding her for coming back. I do lots where I call the dogs, grab their collar and give them a treat, then release. Over and over again. You want the recall to be fun and not the end of the game (so no calling them only when you want to leave). I also will hide when I can, so the dogs have to find me, that helps build up their desire to watch for me and pay attention. I'll also change direction and not say a thing, so suddenly they're having to run to catch up because I'm going the other way.

Do it when it's safe and when she's hungry, and don't wait till she's frustrated because you never take her off the leash.
 

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I agree with a long light line. Tie some knots so in an emergency you can step on it and it won't slide out from under your foot. From the very beginning, I will be doing quite a bit of off leash work (reinforcing the dog for finding my side) in safe enclosed/fenced environments.
 

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I'd start off leash training when they have a 100% recall on a long line under all conditions and with maximum distractions...cat, bike riders/skateboarders, squirrels, other dogs (loose and leashed), kids playing loudly, cars backfiring, etc. Then I'd start the off leash training in a fenced area.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys, I like idea of a longer leash. I think I'll do that. I don't want her to have to stay on the leash just because I didn't train her, so looking forward to this :D
 

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Just a tip-- if you buy rope to a make a long line, make sure it is a rope that you can grab without having rope burns. Also get something that can dry fast (so no cotton) because it will get dragged through the dewy grass and puddles etc and 30-50 feet of rope can take awhile to dry. You can buy spring clips at farm supply stores. Another option is a horse lunge line, the right length, sturdy and usually has a stopper at the end if the rope slides in your hands.

I bought a 50 foot leash This one here and continue to use it regularly in places where the dog has enough space to roam and run but where I am required to keep him on leash OR where there are some extra serious temptations for him. I attach it to a harness (Not his collar) so that if he's running and comes to the end of the line, it won't hurt his neck. Also good for if my dad takes the dog out in the fields so he can let him run but I don't have to worry about Chester listening to someone else's recall shout.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Okay, I have a hammock line which is very strong since it needs to hold a lot of weight. it went rather well I think, I used some ham as a treat since the treats we bought don't seem to be appetizing enough for her and although I did have to say her name and ''come" a lot, she still came and had her treat eventually.

I think its going well, she's very smart and learned sit after two days so I'm hoping this works :)

It's just her attention span that's the problem. She's very easily distracted as puppies are. I need to find some kind of treat that's really stinky :D
 

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although I did have to say her name and ''come" a lot, she still came and had her treat eventually.
Part of using a line is being able to enforce the "come" command. If you just say it repeatedly and wait for the dog to come get the treat, all you are teaching is for the dog to come get a treat whenever she feels like it. Basically, you're teaching her to ignore the very command you want her to listen to IMMEDIATELY.

So what you do is put her on the line, let her wander just a bit away like 10 or so feet. Then call ONCE "Come" and if she doesn't respond, tug her back in and give her a treat when she gets to you. Then let her wander off again, call "Come" once and repeat. You're making the association in her head with "Come" and running back and getting a treat. By having the line on her, you never allow her to ignore your command. Gradually you can let her wander more distance (whatever length of line you have) and add distractions around her.
 

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And also you don't move from 6 ft to 30 ft in one go. You would increase to maybe 8 ft, then 10, then 12 etc, and gradually work up the distance.
This. I didn't buy a lead of each length though. I just measured on a 20 ft and tied a knot with how far as I was letting it out then.

I agree with not repeating "come." Come means come now. Make sure it means that to the dog as well.
 

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This. I didn't buy a lead of each length though. I just measured on a 20 ft and tied a knot with how far as I was letting it out then.

I agree with not repeating "come." Come means come now. Make sure it means that to the dog as well.
Yeah I didn't mean getting one of each length. Just get one long one and put some knots in it at different lengths so you know what you're up to.

And for reeling her in if she doesn't come, I wouldn't reward for that. She knows what "come" means right? And she didn't do it. So no reward. Give her a pat and be pleasant about it, then release her again. But rewards should only be for when she comes on her own. If you treat her for being reeled in and also treat for coming on her own, there is no discernible difference to the dog, she can come or not come, and still get the reward. You need to create some form of contrast between the right behaviour and the wrong behaviour.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks guys :) I will try that now I'm over the woman-flu ;D

She has real stubborn days where she doesn't listen to me at all and really pulls on the lead. I've been trying the 'move in the opposite direction' but no avail so far. She's 8 months now and I don't know if it's her age or not. I don't want to keep using 'she's too young' as an excuse for her behaviour for years to come though. I don't know when dog's are counted as adult, though I heard around a year and a half is the best time for a first breed so I guess that's the age they 'mature' at. :S
 
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