Trusted off leash... training or breed... or both?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Black dogs rock!
Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 7:09pm PST 
I have been testing both Bunny and Princesse by letting them out in our semi fenced yard the last little while. They have their leash/tie out on, but are not attached to anything. Princesse is doing awesome! She stays in the yard and shows no inclination to leave. Bunny did exactly what I thought he would do. He tried to go out the back field right through the rose bushes and chicken wire behind it. I started wondering if this is a breed thing. Chis are known for wanting to be with their people. If Bunny's breed results are correct , then he has at least one breed known for not being trusted off leash. Now , I am not saying you can't train a certain breed to be off leash, I just wonder if it is a lot easier for some breeds than others. Especially dogs that are known for wanting to be with their people.
Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 7:18pm PST 
I think breed plays a substantial role in it.

Kato has a natural tendency to look for me. Sanka, being houndy, has a natural tendency to stick his nose to the wind and just go. How can you truly trust a dog off leash that is so inclined to just go where the wind takes him?

He won't follow me, he won't look where he's going, he'll run until his legs fall off....and that's all just because of his natural tendency.

I still work with him on taking directional cues, but it is very difficult once he's made up his mind as to which direction he wants to go.

Even if he had an awesome recall, he still wouldn't be let off leash because he just wanders. I'd be calling him every 10 seconds to get him back on course. There's a lot more to off leash trust than a good recall. A dog that won't look at me on his own while off leash is a dog I won't trust off leash.
Bella and- Daisy CGC

I'm a Meanie
Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 7:19pm PST 
I would say YES it does have to do with breed.

I own breeds that have been bred to run away from the owner, hunt something down, then call the owner to where they are holding the prey. So, my dogs expect that when they run-I'm following happy they are doing the job they were born to do.

When I see video of coonies hunting-they aren't called off a tree. They are drug away and tied up by the hunters. They don't want that dog to leave that tree for anything-they want the prey to stay put. So with that bred and trained into a pup from a young age, recall just is something I will work on, but not expect miracles.

Now, just like any dog and any trait their are exceptions. But a coonie with good recall around prey is a rare exception. I think I'd be disappointed if one of my girls were like this though. I love that my dogs love to do what they were bred for.

If I want a dog with better recall, I'll get a different breed.


Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 7:20pm PST 
I think it depends on both of those.
Conker is a mutant and is very reliable off-leash, but he IS a Shiba so I won't trust him in unfenced areas simply because he has a strong hunting drive. He doesn't like it when I'm not around though, so I'm pretty sure he would attempt to come back after he realized he was no longer near me.
Juneau and Sasha are Border Collie/Labrador Retriever mixes and are NOT reliable off-leash. Sasha will stick close but won't listen and Juneau... Won't stick close and won't listen so I guess it really depends on the individual dog and how good they are with recall.
Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 7:26pm PST 
Good point B&D....coonies were meant to stick to their find. So if your dog gets out of your site, they may find something interesting in a secluded area and stay there. I know Sanka, once he finds something he's interested in, he'll stay on that spot forever! I have to drag him away. If he smells a mouse in a tree, he'll stand there and try to chew through the tree. He's worn his front teeth down doing this.

Lenny -The- Wrecking Ball
Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 7:33pm PST 
Definitely has to do with the breed, just like already stated (quite well!) by B&D and Sanka.

My childhood GSD never wandered. Her yard/house was where she wanted to be and she never would wander even when the gate was open. Lenny, however, is a hound and follows his nose anywhere and everywhere. When he's really into something it's hard to get his attention, and I basically don't exist (Which will continue to improve as we take classes and work together). He'd wander or bolt off after something in a heart beat. I'll never trust him off leash, even when he does have the training to stay with me and a good recall. Just not worth the risk to me. I love him for the dog that he is, so it doesn't matter to me.
Rio, CGC,- RL1, CL1, TD

You can't say- that i can't- play!
Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 7:58pm PST 
Breed does play a part but I don't follow the "huskies cannot ever be off-leash in unfenced areas" type things... so yes it has to do with breed but it is also training

Rio is a ACD/WHIPPET... he has so much prey drive it is ridiculous. He will chase critters until the cows come home (and then he'll try to herd those). He has extreme chase drive of the whippet... and has the general drive/focus/push/fearlessness of an ACD... Rio would probably go through a brick wall chasing something, he will chase until it ends (either the prey escapes up a tree or he catches it...), and can get lost in his drive. That being said, i've set him up from day one with me to be a very good off-leash dog. I can recall him from deer, turkey, squirrels, etc... but he has also learned when it's okay to chase and when it's not okay to chase without me cuing. He is a dream off-leash... but i have worked really really hard to make him this way. He has the best of both breeds in many respects... but those "bests" also make him a potentially risky off-leash dog... but he's great.

So Rio is very typical of his breeds but with the right training and lots of effort, the end result is a dog who is brilliant off-leash and completely trust worthy.
Yoopie- (U.P.)

Cutest Ugly- Puppy Ever
Barked: Sun Jun 19, '11 8:07pm PST 
Breed definitely, but personality plays into as well. If the dog wants his human more than the small squeaky thing, he'll stay... but of course breed will tell most of the time.

Yoopie is my off-leasher... he's ridiculously reliable about sticking with me. He'll even pass by a squirrel if it means running after my bike. I could keep him off leash every time I walk him or ride my bike... I'm that sure of his ability to stay with me no matter what. But, I won't because I can't control everything in his environment, like someone or something scaring him or a dog attack. The leash is not to keep him with me.

Barked: Mon Jun 20, '11 9:36am PST 
I believed it was breed dependent...until I got Fynny.

Min pins are notorious for being horrific off leash. Fynny on the other hand was one of the easiest dogs I've ever trained recall for.

Now I tend to believe its far more about the individual when it comes to wanting to stick around in general.

Fynny is never leashed (and rarely even wears a collar). I know many arctic and tracking breeds who are just as reliable. I don't think its as rare a fluke as I used to.

Its not breed, or training, but the individual dogs inherent tendency.

Good breeding/temperament counts.
Shane DEC- '08-JAN '12- RIP

In dreams I walk- with you..
Barked: Mon Jun 20, '11 10:07am PST 
Generally speaking I would say breed dependent, but within those breeds of course there will be variants. I've met hounds and huskies that live to explore, but also individuals that are totally handler bonded and wouldn't dream of roaming.
Also of great importance when discussing this topic is environment. In my case I have no problem allowing my dogs to run off lead when hiking in the woods, I know that even if they go on a brief chase or exploration, they'll track me down when they are ready. In my neighborhood however, I wouldn't allow the same liberties. A moment's inattention could too easily lead to trouble or tragedy.
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