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I've been wondering about this because a lot of people seem OK with their dogs being out of sight during off leash time (in the woods and whatnot)... so what's your opinion on what you think is an acceptable distance/amount of time away from you?

I'm 99% sure Meeko can be recalled in most situations now but he's just not one of those dogs who seems to want to orbit around me.

We've let him let his long line drag on walks and he gets quite far away (15-20ft) and it makes me nervous. He always follows along if we call him though... Is that being off leash reliable? Because to me it is not. I don't want a dog who wanders away from me where I can't see him or where he's too far...

Thoughts?
 

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I'd probably be comfortable with a dog like him wandering up to 20 ft away if I was that confident of his recall ability. I think this question is very dog & situation dependent, too. For Bennie? Any distance is too far, I've learned the hard way! Can't even let her drag a long line near me safely because she always seems to find something to chase. Sigh.
 

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For Loki - off leash still means within a distance I can easily see him and reach him in a few seconds if necessary. I tend to err on the side of caution, always - I trust his recall, I just don't trust other dogs off leash around him sometimes.
 

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Depends on where I am and which dog it is. Thud out of sight? LOL, NOPE. Bug out of sight? Ditto. They're off leash in open areas, period and the end. Hunting season in general? None of them are going into the woods to scamper away from me.

Jack, Kylie, Molly? If we're somewhere where they're likely to encounter a person or a dog, No. Somewhere I'm not familiar with? Also no. Not out of sight. Out on our own property or other private property? If they want to go tearing around the woods and sniffing and exploring, that's fine. They've demonstrated amply to me that they can and will recall off wildlife and they're places I KNOW the terrain well. I'll still recall them back every 5 minutes or something and fuss over them, but out of sight doesn't worry me in those specific circumstances.

*ETA:* I should say they have a RELEASE to allow them to do that. I don't just let them... check out and go. I TELL THEM they can go, you know? So to me it's pretty off leash reliable since I can also say 'nope' and keep them within 6 feet of me (or 2, or whatever).
 

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Depends on the dog, like others have said. If he will recall to you reliably then I'd say it's fine. My dogs can get pretty far from me when we go out hiking - I'd say 50ish feet, probably more in reality - but I am comfortable with the area and they recall reliably. They also aren't out of sight, maybe obscured by trees/bushes but I can see them. With a small dog I'd be a bit more concerned if I were in a wooded area, or really, anywhere I guess. The fiance and I had her dog out in a field one time, he was about 40 feet away and a hawk tried to snatch him up! No more off leash for Charlie.
 

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Depends on the dog and where I am. The boys don't really like to get too far, if they get out of sight they will come and check in. Maisy will go out of sight, but she tends to stick to trails and will recall eventually. I really only let her off leash hiking in very remote areas where she can't really go anywhere dangerous.
 

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With mine, I'd say as long as she's in sight in an open area, the distance does not matter. Her recall is fairly reliable. She doesn't run back at a seconds notice if something has caught her interest, but she always heads back within 5-10 seconds. Our property is about 1.5 acres with half of that being a wooded area leading down to a creek and then going off into miles upon miles of public wooded property. I don't let her get more than 20ft away if we're on our property or in the creek, but in the rest of the woods at a time/on a day that I know we're unlikely to run into people, it's probably 10-15ft depending on the area. No off-leash in areas with heavy people or dog traffic.
 

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Depends on a lot of factors... First one being how good the dog's recall is at what distance. After that consideration, it depends on the environment. In an open field, Soro likes to wander over 100 ft away because he is not an orbiter by nature. If it is a pretty remote place I'll let him do that and he is good about keeping tabs on where I am even if he is far away. If it is a wooded trail, he naturally sticks closer (though still not *right there*) but I will call him or stop him before hitting bends or hills where there might be someone right on the other side. So it depends. But my three general rules are:

-Must be able to see dog and vice versa
-Dog must be able to hear me (because my absolute-recall is a two note whistle)
-Do not let dog get far enough where we can be surprised by other people/animals

And all of these depend greatly on the area, how windy or dark it is, how much traffic, etc...
 

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Like others have said, it depends. There are areas where I'm happy for the dog to be out of sight temporarily, and areas where they can wander a long way away and it doesn't worry me. Other areas they can be off leash but I want them pretty close because we might encounter people.

A solid recall is a must for any off leash time. If the dog didn't have a solid recall, it would only be off leash in fenced areas.
 

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sydneynicole;4479601[B said:
]With a small dog I'd be a bit more concerned if I were in a wooded area, or really, anywhere I guess. The fiance and I had her dog out in a field one time, he was about 40 feet away and a hawk tried to snatch him up! No more off leash for Charlie.[/B]
Oh boy -___-

I never thought of that. Wondering how big Charlie is.
 

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I'm not ok with my dogs being out of sight for more than a second. It has taken a lot of work for Watson to realize that if he's off leash, he needs to stop and check in before going out of sight. Hazel has generally been really good about this but has started to show some more independence. As spaniels they really shouldn't get out of sight, so I think there is a little help there genetically, but Watson will not hesitate to take off after deer or something so if I can't see him I don't trust that he's not going to take off.

Though I do not consider 15-20ft to be far at all. I walked Watson on a 20ft long line for a long time and he always wanted to be further away than that. I would say he gets about 50-100ft away now before I recall him, but mostly it's important that I can see him and feel like I have some control. I don't know of any trail we could hike where 20ft would be out of sight so unless Meeko is going further than I would consider that pretty off leash reliable.

ETA: I don't walk my dogs off leash anywhere without good visibility because I know that they aren't going to stay within 10ft of me and I don't want to come on other dogs unexpectedly.
 

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For me it's not so much that 20 feet is out of sight *on the trail*, but if I'm really hiking, and the dog dives into the underbrush, or goes either up or down the mountain (everything's a hill, here), then they're sometimes out of sight in ten feet. Visibility can be weird.
 

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For me it's not so much that 20 feet is out of sight *on the trail*, but if I'm really hiking, and the dog dives into the underbrush, or goes either up or down the mountain (everything's a hill, here), then they're sometimes out of sight in ten feet. Visibility can be weird.
Yeah, I edited my post to say that I just do not walk my dogs off leash anywhere where the visibility is poor. They are not going to stay within 10ft of me naturally and if they need to be that close, then that's what my 10ft leashes are for. They are only allowed off leash in places with good visibility so that I can see them and so I can see that there are no people or dogs coming.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the input everyone!

I'm honestly just nervous about losing him. He's so small and fast if he takes off I'm pretty sure it would be super difficult to spot him/get him back. Letting the leash trail is the only way I feel comfortable about letting him loose. I suspect he's actually more reliable than I think but I can't get over my own anxiety!

Even with my old family dog, I used to be really nervous about letting him loose. He always came back to check up on us but he used to get pretty far from us.

I'm not sure how to teach him to have a tighter orbit. The only thing I can think of is rewarding him for checking back/recalling once he hits the limits of his range... but what if I don't have something that can compete with in terms of how rewarding it is? asdifwejf
 

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I just call my dog and ask him to wait if he's at the limit of how far I want him to go. Often when he stops, I say "yes" and he comes back any way to get a treat. And if he doesn't want the treat and wants to wait out that far, once I catch up a little he is released to keep going which is his reward.

If you call Meeko when he's at the limit of where you want him and he doesn't come back, then I would say his recall is poor. But if he does come back when you call, I'm not sure what you're worried about?

No treat you ever have will be as rewarding as stuff in the environment for most dogs. You need to make it a habit, and they need to know that if they don't come back you will come and get them and make them do it or put them on leash.
 

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Do you have one of those little lights you can clip to a collar or harness? If not I might try finding one of those just to give yourself a little peace of mind that -if- he ever did get away, he'd be easier to spot.

I know with Luna if she wasn't wearing any collar/harness she's basically invisible in the woods at night or dusk.
 

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I'm a big fan of having my dogs drag a leash. I have bright colored biothane leashes in 10ft and 20ft that make it easy to spot them. My dogs are the color of fallen leaves, so they kind of disappear into the woods (I try to keep them on the trails and not out in the woods where visibility is poor)
 

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I'm not sure how to teach him to have a tighter orbit. The only thing I can think of is rewarding him for checking back/recalling once he hits the limits of his range... but what if I don't have something that can compete with in terms of how rewarding it is? asdifwejf
I think some of it is just the way a dog is. But I also practice a lot of "recall and release" and also heavily reward any voluntary checking in with a young dog. Always, always checking in is a positive experience even if I'm annoyed with them. Even now with the adult dogs I will intermittently jackpot checking in.

Pip is off leash reliable pretty much anywhere, but generally speaking if I'm somewhere I'm comfortable with them off leash at all, I'm somewhere either contained (like our large dog park), somewhere I don't expect to encounter many people/dogs (a nearby off leash beach), or somewhere that I don't expect to encounter other people at all (hiking remote wilderness). For the former, I like them to stay in sight (or where I can hear where they are, in vegetation) but don't have a set distance. For the third, I don't really care if they get out of sight or are gone for a few minutes.
 

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I'm a big fan of having my dogs drag a leash. I have bright colored biothane leashes in 10ft and 20ft that make it easy to spot them. My dogs are the color of fallen leaves, so they kind of disappear into the woods (I try to keep them on the trails and not out in the woods where visibility is poor)
I just had this discussion in my most recent picture thread.

Thud almost always drags a leash. I do not trust that dog further than I can throw him at certain times of the year. Well, I guess I do some since I let it go but I want an emergency brake on him. Ditto, Bug. Molly, Kylie, Jack I don't do that because of tangle risk (though sometimes I'm lazy), but I REALLY enjoy the ability to step on a leash when Bug is not listening or Thud does that thing he does when he spots an animal, and I have 3.3 seconds to get him back before he's gone.

Oh. Orbit. Yeah. I just do a lot of recall and release - with the point of recall being where I want the orbit.

Kylie's natural orbit, unless doing something like chasing a ball or agility (ie: going TO something) is about 18". Molly's is probably 10-15 feet. I'm cool with Both. I suspect Thud's natural orbit is there, but WAY further out than I want. So. Drag line and recalls.
 

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One thing I got from the behaviorist is the idea to ask for a "wait" instead of a recall most of the time. She said that, based on my videos, my constant recalls were frustrating to Watson, but I could ask him to wait instead. It has helped so much. He still usually comes back anyway after I say "yes", because I have treats, but for those times when the treat isn't that interesting and he really wants to keep sniffing whatever he is sniffing, he can manage to listen to a "wait" cue and then be released. It's removed a lot of conflict and he's started waiting on his own and checking in more than he did even a couple months ago.
 
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