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weird off-leash walking behavior; he's much better off-leash than on?!

1330 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  SassyCat
So, we've had Cody for about 1 year now. He's a 2 year old Collie/shepherd mix. He gets really interested in other people and people's front doors, so we pretty much gave up on walking him off-leash around the neighborhood since we've had him. The only time he is let off-leash is at the dog park. He's not totally undependable, and often we take him outside from front door to car in driveway without bothering to leash up.

But, I started walking him off-leash last week. And he did surprisingly well! I don't know why, because we've never trained it. While on leash, he walks OK, not great. He walks to the end of the leash and makes it taught a little. Not too much pulling, but definitely not loose leash walking either.

But his behavior off-leash is totally different. While on leash, he'll usually sniff the ground, and that's when the pulling is the worst. Off-leash, he's not sniffing, just following me.

When on leash, he usually walks in front of me, to the end of the leash. Off-leash, he's usually behind me.

I can't figure out how this off-leash behavior developed. Why is he sooo much better behaved off-leash than on-leash?

Any thoughts?
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Sniffing the ground is automatic coping mechanism for stress in some dogs so it's not so rare that this happens. Tension on the leash means tension in the mind of both you and your dog so leashed walk slowly becomes an unpleasant and stressful necessary evil. You can find useful techniques on this page.
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