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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I love sitting- in laps
Barked: Thu Feb 23, '12 8:56pm PST 
I'd like to start taking Moose up to the off leash trails this coming month and I'd like to know what I should have him well versed in before we go.

I know recall is the main thing, but this has become our battle and I couldn't even begin to guess as to when he might have this command somewhat down.
One minute he's good with it when I work with him, the next minute he's a puppy.
We're continuing this lesson every day. Although like tonight, it's as if he doesn't understand the word "come". One try at it and he trots right over to me. The next try and he just sits there staring. Then the 3rd or 4th try he'll trot over to me. (I break up that particular exercise with different stuff). Maybe I need to use a different word.
Any tips on how to help this along? I try acting super excited when I say "come", but he just stares. Or I'll try running away and I get more stares. Upping the value of the treats didn't seem to create more consistency either.

I like this particular trail because it seems the people who take their dogs up there are quite dog savvy. (I took Mikey up a handful of times to work on socialization).

Moose is a big lip licker of dogs that he meets and many of the dogs just don't dig his puppy energy and give him serious corrections. He doesn't paw at the dogs or nip at the dogs or get pushy. He just licks lips, kind of gets in their face and then rolls on his back or he gets into a game of chase.
Hopefully most the dogs are cool with his goofy energy.

I want to start going up there asap but I don't want to go up there with a dog who isn't ready.

Moose is a freak of energy at night and in March we start daylight savings and when I get home from work, I can take him straight up there and let him burn it off.

Edited by author Thu Feb 23, '12 9:05pm PST

Theodore aka- Teddy - **CGC**

Big Head. Big- Heart.
Barked: Thu Feb 23, '12 9:30pm PST 
hi smile

I am glad you are working on training with Moose and making progress! Training puppies exhausting and just when you think they "get it", they act like you never taught it to them in the first place!

Personally, I would recommend waiting until he is totally solid at his recall. Granted I can't imagine he can move super fast lol, but it can only take seconds for something to go wrong. I didn't let Teddy off-leash in unfenced areas until he was over 1 year old and his recall was bombproof. As in, I could call him off a running cat/squirrel/etc. Maybe I am too conservative about this type of thing, but I always operate with the "better safe than sorry" mantra in my head.

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Thu Feb 23, '12 9:30pm PST 
Does he have a natural inclination to follow you around? Usually young puppies will want to keep you within their sight. With Onyx I didn't work very much on a recall command for the first couple months, I just let him follow me everywhere. I took him to a private beach the day after I picked him up from the breeder at 8 weeks and just let him follow me at his own pace. We went (and still go) on off lead walks pretty much everyday and he's never had a problem sticking close.

Have you tried Tiller's hide and seek game around the house/yard? Just walk away from him and see if he follows you. If he does, try sneaking off when he isn't looking and get him to find you. Using a recall command too frequently can wear the dog out on the idea. Play on his natural desire to be near you first.
Tiller's Video

If you're going someplace where you know you're likely to run into other dogs, I'd keep a long line on him. Not every dog is going to enjoy being charged by a puppy and you don't want him to have a bad experience. Trying to call him away from something he really wants to go to probably isn't going to work out at this point so a long line would give you some control.

As far as teaching the 'come' on command, have you experimented with restrained recalls? And of course make sure a recall never ends a fun time (like going back inside, leaving whatever fun place you're at, ect.). Always reward a successful recall and even offer treats/toys if he comes on his own when you didn't call.


too old to eat- any more KD
Barked: Thu Feb 23, '12 9:39pm PST 
I agree that keeping him on a long line is better than letting him go totally off leash at this point. Is he more willing when you walk now? Or still butt-plantingwink If he is, then the long line will let you walk away from him & see if 30 feet will entice him into following you. Or you can duck behind a tree & see if he comes alooking, while he is still safesmile

Barked: Thu Feb 23, '12 9:39pm PST 
In my opinion, a dog without a recall has no business being off-leash in a public area.

Look, Moose is a puppy. He's not going to be ready for off-leash for quite a while. You have no reason to rush it and since he shows no sign of a consistent recall it's really not safe to do so. There are a lot of ways to burn off energy which don't include letting him run off-leash when you will likely not be able to stop him in time to prevent tragedy. Letting him approach strange off-leash dogs in questionable control already who may not appreciate his advances is throwing him to the wolves. You'd be doing him a major disservice and setting him up for an incident to created years of dog aggression with the wrong match.

"Hopefully most the dogs are cool with his goofy energy."

Yeah, mine would not be. Even my dogs who are great with other dogs would not be because they don't want to be molested by a puppy.

As for the recall, I don't let my learning dogs ignore a recall. I do that by never asking for a command I can't enforce if necessary. If I want a dog to come who isn't yet consistent, they're on a long line. I say it nicely and encourage while reeling them in. In a pre-pubescent puppy that will take months and you'll have to do it again at about 16 months when they hit the "screw you" stage of teenager-hood. It's not an over and done thing; You'll be reviewing and redoing this command all the time for the rest of his life. There is no sense in rushing.

*The method Onyx posted is awesome. I know numerous trainers who stand behind the magically disappearing owner method and have never had a recall issue with their pups.

Edited by author Thu Feb 23, '12 9:43pm PST


Diamond is this- girl's best- friend!
Barked: Thu Feb 23, '12 11:15pm PST 
The world is full of shiny things and puppies are easily distracted.

A large, enclosed dog park might be a good intermediate step. Your pup will have to deal with a possibly overly-stimulating environment and the consequences for an error are much lower than on the trail.

Good luck with the training.

I love sitting- in laps
Barked: Fri Feb 24, '12 10:27pm PST 
Ya know, I don't really know if Moose would follow me like "a lost puppy". I don't have any opportunity to really find out. Closest I can get is at night I walk him on a 10ft lead and I try to get him to follow me, but he just walks beside me or stops (a hundred times) to put something in his mouth or just sits and stares in the direction he thinks he hears people. Or he plays tug with the lead.
I don't have a backyard that's dog friendly so I can't work on it there.
I'll just have to keep working like mad with this.

I'm leaning not taking him, now that I've read your posts and thought about it. He is so into dogs and people that I'm afraid I'd become invisible out there and my voice would just be a terribly irritating white noise to him.

I took him out tonight on the long lead and I worked with him on it and it's a hit or a miss. Frustrating.
I'm not sure I can sit out a spring and/or summer not going to the beach or trails if he doesn't have recall down.

Moose isn't one of those slow, low energy Saints. Just the opposite. I swear he's a Labrador trapped in a Saints body.
Evenings are the worst and before we do our outdoor training at night on the long lead, I run up and down my street with him and let me tell you, that puppy can run. And after some sprints, he's good to go for some serious tug with the lead. He could go and go and go. Which is why I so want to hit the trails after work.

We're having unseasonable weather here for the dead of winter. It was 76 degrees here today and when I walked Moose at lunch, it was warm enough that Moose was panting pretty hard after our trip around the block.
Ya think that would have wiped him out. Nope. He got the zoomies once we got inside. This dog has "let's be out and about" written all over him.

Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Sat Feb 25, '12 5:10am PST 
I had both my two off lead on their first ever walk too. As Onyx said, young puppies don't tend to wander from you as they're still lacking confidence and dependant on you. That works in your advantage when teaching them to come when called.

Depends on how public the trail you want to use is though? I took Ty to a relatively quiet area for his first time off lead and just let him explore. I've never had an issue with either of my two running off as young pups though.

Edited by author Sat Feb 25, '12 5:12am PST

Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Sat Feb 25, '12 7:47am PST 
Moose, I've taken my pups to the beach and hiking on a long line many times. Very doable.

Why don't you take him somewhere on a long line and play hide and seek?

Champion PPH
Barked: Sat Feb 25, '12 7:53am PST 
The long line suggestion is a terrific one. Rusty's recall stinks at times. I took him to an empty soccer field with a long line and would step on the lead each time he got close to the end, giving him a noise correction to follow me. It took a while, but he started to get the idea that he should keep an eye on me.
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