4 Tips for Successful Off Leash Outings
Letting your pup run off leash is one the best ways for them to let off some steam and burn extra calories. With no need to slow their gait down to match ours, off leash outings are a great way to tire out your dog. Before letting your dog off leash consider these 4 questions when prepping for a successful outing.
Does my dog’s personality suit being off leash?
If you have a nervous, shy or non-dog friendly dog, off leash outings may not be the right choice for your pup. Worrying about if your dog will be spooked by something and run off or constantly being on guard for other approaching dogs can be more stressful for both of you than it is fun. If your dog looks to you for comfort and guidance while on leash and lacks confidence off leash, that’s ok! Every dog is different and has a unique personality, if off leash outings don’t suit your dog, there’s no need to push them beyond their comfort zone.
Is this a safe, legal place to let my dog off leash?
It’s important to do your research before leaving the house. Is your destination a safe, legal place to let your dog run off leash? Many towns and cities have designated off leash dog parks. A quick Google search will help you locate the best places for off leash outings near where you live. If you’re still unsure if a specific location is off leash acceptable, prep for a leashed walk and when you do surveillance upon arrival, make a decision if it’s an acceptable place to unsnap your leash or not. If the location you have in mind is very near a trafficked road and has no fenced boundaries, it may not be the best place to let your dog off leash.
Do I have a strong re-call?
If you’re going to take your dog off leash it’s extremely important to know that you can get them back. The best way to develop a strong re-call is practice! Use these tips to teach a strong re-call:
- Hold an extra special treat tightly between your fingers and have your dog slowly lick and nibble it from your fingers (a small piece of cooked hot dog is great for this exercise).
- As your dog nibbles on the treat, use an inside voice and replace “Fido” with your dog’s name and say “Fido come” and “good Fido, good come” over and over in your dog’s ear as you rub their head with your other hand until they’ve finished the treat in your fingers. You’ve just taken the first step towards imprinting your dog with a re-call by linking a delicious taste and soft petting with the sound of your voice calling them to return to you. Good job!
- Next, using small pieces of the same delicious treat, ask your dog to sit and stay or have a friend hold their leash as you back up a few feet. Begin calling your dog in a happy tone of voice using the same words you imprinted with. When your dog runs to you, reward them with their tiny, delicious treat and repeat your imprinted reward words and petting.
- Keep practicing while moving farther and farther away from your dog each time they successfully complete a re-call. When you feel confident about taking your practice outside to an open area, it’s a good idea to leave a leash trailing behind your dog so you can catch them if they have a momentary lapse in their re-call practice.
Using a delicious treat, doing your initial imprint and plenty of practice are key for setting your dog up for a successful, consistent re-call.
Do I have a plan if my dog gets lost or runs away?
No matter how strong your recall is, accidents happen. If your dog chases an animal into the woods and gets lost or is spooked by something and runs off, it’s important to take precautions and have a plan.
- Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with tags. Dog tags should have your dog’s name, your address and your phone number in a material that will not rub off or fade away.
- If you can have your pet microchipped at the vet, do it! If your dog already came with a microchip, make sure you call the chip company to update your dog’s chip info to match your address and phone number.
- Even if you don’t live in a place where hunting occurs, giving your dog a bright colored, reflective collar is a great safety choice. If your dog gets lost and stays lost past the sun going down, a reflective collar could save their life if they make it out towards a road.
- Buying a GPS tracker for your pet’s collar is the ultimate safety precaution. A GPS tracker like the ones from Whistle will give you peace of mind for off leash outings. If your dog runs away or gets lost, you can track their location using an app on your phone. It’s as simple as that.
Being confident about location, training and safety precautions is the best way for you and your dog to get the most out of your off leash outings.
Feel the Burn
Many canine behavior issues stem from excess energy. Help your dog burn that energy with daily, aerobic exercise and your dog will not only be happier but he/she will also be better behaved.