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Today, I took Bandit to my dad's house to play with their 7-year-old, extremely well-trained black Lab. They owned 2 dogs until recently when the older one passed away, and their remaining dog is greiving, so we decided that a playdate with Bandit might help to lift her spirits.

They got along right away, and soon they wanted to play and run in the 2-acre back pasture. It's fenced, but only with a tall horse fence that wouldn't contain a dog at all. I brought a 30' training lead along, so I snapped that to his collar and was following him around giving him as much room as possible. We practiced some recalls and he passed with flying colors - came running back to me every time. So, finally - with a bit of anxiety I just let the lead drop. This is the first time he's been allowed to play in something simulating true off-leash time, and he did absolutely great - still came running every time I called, and I sent him out to play some more. He was terrific! It helped that the Lab has perfect recall, so I knew he would follow her back if we called her, too. (Kind of a nice backup.)

I never thought I'd be able to have any of my dogs off-leash since I am a huge Northern breed fan, but I really think Bandit is an excellent candidate for off-leash time in the future, once I've trained a really solid "normal" recall, and an emergency one. He is completely different than Willow and Jasper - a true "velcro dog" and so handler-oriented. Unlike my other two, he frequently "checks in" when on the long line, and doesn't like to range far from me. His prey drive is nonexistent as well - he could just about care less. He is Shepherd/Husky and I really think he ended up with the Shepherd willingness to please. He's still young (about 15 - 17 months), so I know that may change, but at this point I highly doubt it.

Anyway, just wanted to share what a neat day it turned out being, and how happy I am with how he responded for me today. :) Amazing how nerve-wracking that first intentional drop of the leash can be, though!!
 

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Go Bandit! That's awesome. I agree, its hard to drop the leash for the first time. Bentley's first off leash time was also with my parents dogs who have perfect recall and I think it helped me knowing they were there.
 

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That's awesome! I know that feeling of dread all too well when you drop the leash and hopehopehope your dog doesn't bolt. One time time we had a posse of cars and people on foot chasing her down all over a strange neighborhood. I drove a half mile up the road to head her off at the mouth of a creek and out she came trotting like she was just out for a stroll - la-ti-da! Hi Mom! [email protected]!!IJjfdzjfk dhjfISDIHFHI!!!!!!!!!! I opened the back of the car, invited that rotten dog in and up she jumped into the back seat like nothing had happened. Let me tell you, praising and hugging on that dog was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I wanted to mail her to the north pole!

I'm so glad Bandit has better sense than Poca. You deserve at least one dog with good recall!
 
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