Off leash trails for the first time

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions-big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.

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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sat Feb 25, '12 11:55am PST 
Personally, with a puppy, I'd NOT use a long line. Tap into the puppiness that still remains. At 4 months, I'd imagine him not yet being bold enough to stray far. Try finding an area where there aren't dogs or go at a time where there are less distractions and walk with the pup off leash. Get to know for yourself the pup's habits. You need training just as much as your pup, and recall really isn't going to be stellar any time soon. So, waiting for it may just make it worse imo.

Having your pup get used to HAVING to keep an eye on you is the key. Using a long line from the start can hinder that, especially if you, the human, become so reliant on it.

Hide n seek is awesome! The pup needs to know to keep an eye on you and to keep with you. That is more important than ANYTHING. I found the hardest thing of all is you learning to let go and give them that freedom. You want to guide them or call them. But you need to let them figure out on their own. If they start to wander, let them. With puppies, most will usually look up and realize their mistake and come running back to you. It's also nice to just keep walking. Don't stop every time for the pup. You stop when they stop, and they learn that they don't need to keep an eye on you...you're following them.

What I like to do is let them do their thing then suddenly change directions...maybe go off trail or down a different trail while the pup is off ahead or sniffing something. Once I start off in the new direction, call the pup. That way, calling them means they get to explore a new area. The reward becomes exploration.

One thing to keep in mind though, through my experience, once a pup or any dog becomes really familiar with a spot, they will tend to wander farther and farther. Imo, it's not really that bad, just a measure of their confidence. They tend to walk further ahead of you or make less notions of looking for you. They know their way around. But if they've got the notion to keep an eye on you ingrained, it shouldn't be a problem. They'll check in...just not as often as before.

But, I can't stress enough that the biggest hold up almost always seems to be the human, not the dog. Being able to let go. You can start small to help ease your mind. Let the pup off for 5-10 minutes at a time then go back on leash if it helps. The more experience off the leash pup has, the better though.
Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
Barked: Sun Feb 26, '12 12:28am PST 
I second (or third?) the point that most young puppies wont stray far from the person they trust. smile Like Onyx, I let Nix off leash from the very first day he arrived here. We didn't even use a leash most of the time since it took him a while to get used to it, and we practiced recall slowly. I think it was about 2 or 3 weeks in to having him before he finally started responding to it, but regardless of that, he was off-leash all the time and we never once had an issue.

The whole thing about "Dogs should have perfect 100% recall before being allowed off leash" I think applies mostly to adult dogs and not so much puppies. I think if you can take advantage of a puppy's natural desire to stay close though, it will make recall training easier in the long run.

A long line could be useful if you're really unsure, or afraid that Moose will take the first opportunity to blow you off (after all, that's a lot of puppy to be picking up and carrying if he does decide not to follow you!) but at this age I wouldn't be too concerned about having perfect recall. smile

Sanka has some great advice there! smile

Edited by author Sun Feb 26, '12 12:31am PST


Barked: Sun Feb 26, '12 9:39am PST 
"Using a long line from the start can hinder that, especially if you, the human, become so reliant on it."

And there is proof of that where? The only way a long line can hinder a recall or a dog's penchant for 'checking in' is if you're using a long-line incorrectly. A long-line is not a leash, it's light, thin, drags on the ground and the dog should just ignore it. If you're hauling on it or even touching it, you're doing it wrong.

It's one thing if you're out in the sticks but she wants this pup in populated areas where there are distractions and other dogs. If she wants the pup out on abandoned trails that's one thing. The hiding game is great but it will be pointless and teach nothing if there are distractions. "Mom is gone, oh no... hey strange person! Take me home!"

I don't think there should be any rush to let an untrained puppy who already shows an independent streak off-leash with a lot going on. Pups get lost that way but if it's a risk his owner would like to take that's their prerogative.


I love sitting- in laps
Barked: Sun Feb 26, '12 10:02am PST 
Boy, I'm flip floppin' all over the place on this.

Yesterday Moose had a play date with 3 neighborhood dogs. All three are buddies who go to the trails and beaches at least a few times a week and have their "pack" all squared away.
Throwing Moose into the mix in this backyard was interesting. They all made it clear where Moose was in the ranking and clearly it was the bottom.laugh out loud
So, after it was all established, Moose and the largest of the 3 dogs (40lbs) were enjoying games of chase and tug. It was great.

In talking about my off leash fear at the trails, my neighbors suggested that we all go together for my first trip up there and hopefully, that way, Moose will stick close to the other dogs and hopefully me.
I think that's a few weeks off for now.

Moose has a really good (after witnessing it yesterday)read of dogs and their "get away from me" signals, so I'm feeling a little more confident in his ability to not be a pain in the a** to dogs he greets. In puppy class I see the same behavior.

Moose did listen pretty good yesterday. Not great, but a few times I called him back to me, away from the other dogs, and he came right back.

I got another invite this morning to go with another neighbor and her dog, who we just did our morning walk with, up to the trails and have Moose follow him around.

I'll play it by ear. My hesitation about using my 20ft lead with Moose up at the trails is having a excited, active puppy dragging a long lead around, circling other dogs and people will be a bear to deal with.
When I went with Mikey up there on the long lead, he was calm. But, when he said hi to people or other dogs gathered around, dealing with the lead was a pain.

We'll see.
Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sun Feb 26, '12 11:08am PST 
Zephyr, you missed all that I said.

"Using a long line from the start can hinder that, especially if you, the human, become so reliant on it."

I'm referencing people using the long line and becoming reliant on it...meaning tugging the dog or stepping on it to stop the dog. That can hinder the off leash ability. The dog gets used to being tugged by the line to stop rather than developing the instinct to check for themselves. I agree, it's how it's used. But with such a young pup, I don't see where one would truthfully NEED it. The pup shouldn't wander so much. Even Sanka, who isn't trustworthy off leash, was a great off leash pup. I just unfortunately didn't work with him and that plus genetics has him unfortunately untrustworthy of complete freedom.

I also said:

"Personally, with a puppy, I'd NOT use a long line. Tap into the puppiness that still remains. At 4 months, I'd imagine him not yet being bold enough to stray far. Try finding an area where there aren't dogs or go at a time where there are less distractions and walk with the pup off leash."

Again, start small and work your way up.

I'm not sure what you meant by "shows an independent streak off-leash with a lot going on". It's a puppy. I wouldn't call it so much independence. It's just a puppy doing what puppies do...explore the world. Some are more apt the just look at a distance and some would rather dive right in. Either way, most pups at that age will still check in and follow the human.

Moose, I know many dogs who are horrible off leash on their own but wonderful when with a pack. There's a malamute who runs off on her own, but when Kato is there, she just follows him and behaves herself quite well. If you're friends' dogs are great off leash, that is a good tool to have. Like I said, you have to learn your pup. What do they work well with? What peaks their interest? What is becoming mundane? The more the pup becomes used to their environment, the less they feel the urge to investigate every little thing.
Turner - Gone Too- Soon

Hi I'm Turner- Wanna Smell My- Butt?
Barked: Sun Feb 26, '12 12:09pm PST 
Try taking Moose with another dog that has a good recall if possible. That way if he conveniently can hear you he'll follow the other dog. Grunt won't be off lead for a few years. But that's just me. I know how pibbles get when they want something. Nothing else exists...way to go

I don't think that using a long lead is bad, I would keep the long lead with me just in case if I were you.

Good luck! flowers

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Mon Feb 27, '12 6:35am PST 
It's Moose's uneven response to your recall (that you've described in this thread) that makes me think he's a bit too young for that level of freedom. Especially if there are plenty of other dogs and people around. He's still a very young puppy, considering his breed and how slowly they tend to mature in all the ways that are not visible.

I would start offlead adventures with long lead practice in an area with few distractions, just to get Moose and yourself used to the process. Hide and seek games are great, and he's at the perfect age for them. Safe areas, low distraction levels are important for this.

It is helpful if you have other dogs and people to hike with, if those dogs have a rock solid recall you can rely on that in part. Most pups will travel with the group of dogs. I would honestly assess how his response is with that group of dogs before 'taking it on the road', will he periodically not respond to them in a similar way as he does with you? If that's the case, don't rely on the group being able to influence his return. You know your pup best, weigh those factors. I agree that pups need their freedom, but it is always something you'll need to weigh against safety, what the environment is like right then, etc. Good luck!
Talah CGC

Suska's- Sanderling- Tailwind
Barked: Mon Feb 27, '12 11:52am PST 
Yupp, long line or gasp! Flexi is what I'd recommend. Remember there might be some aggressive dogs out there hiking too.

Tanuk has always stayed within a 10ft bubble of us, so I've never been concerned. However, after walks with Talah on lead I've realized she's a totally different story. I am not sure I will ever feel comfortable letting her off lead, regardless of recall. Even though she follows us and Tanuk around, she gives me quite a "husky who will run if given the chance" vibe. I have contemplated tethering her to Tanuk though. thinking

Just take it slow, slow is better than a setback.

Barked: Mon Feb 27, '12 4:53pm PST 
I am of the long lead to teach recall camp. I have to say, my 3 girls all have really wonderful, really reliable recall. I do agree that comparing saints to herders in the obedtheirience department is a bit of apples to oranges but none of mine came to rely on it an i can reliably call them off a deer chase, i recently had to call Holly off a charge at a horse in the neighb orhood (silly me for not being prepared for a horse on the sidewalk outside our house). All of mine started with the long lead. We off leash hike A LOT and I never have a problem with any of them, i made coming to me a fun treat laden thing with the l?ead and capitalized on their natural desire to be with us also.
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Tue Feb 28, '12 12:56am PST 
I think taking the little squirt out on a long line would be fine, too. You will just have that peace of mind and can reel him in and treat him when others walk on by. You can also pick and choose which dogs are appropriate to greet and which aren't and, when no one's about let him loose on it for a little run. I can't see the harm in taking him out on the line... I bet you'll both have a great time. smile
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