Basic Commands Dogs Should Know Before Off-Leash Training

While off-leash training can (and should) begin in a controlled setting as early as possible, your dog will not be truly ready for off-leash situations until the following commands are mastered.


The most important command your dog should know before off-leash training can begin is recall. Your dog should return to you on command in various situations and from distances both near and far. An especially important aspect of off-leash recall training is making sure your dog returns to you even when distractions are present, such as wildlife, other dogs, and people.

All dog owners should recognize the limits of their pet’s ability to recall while off-leash. For instance, as distractions or distance away from owner increases, dogs may have a more difficult time obeying this command. Identify these weaknesses well in advance of off-leash training and work on proofing your dog. In some instances, dogs may have rock solid recalls except in highly specific scenarios. Here it is the responsibility of the owner to identify those weak points and prevent them from occurring. For instance, if your dog does not respond after wandering more than 100 m away from you, make sure to recall your dog when he or she has strayed 75 m.  

Drop It

Your dog is likely to explore while off-leash and may find items that are either dangerous or unsavory.The “drop it” command is especially useful in off-leash situations, especially if your dog tends to play keep away when he or she has a forbidden object.  

Leave It

Similarly, “leave it” is another important command for off-leash dogs to know. When walking off-leash, especially in wooded areas, your dog is likely to come across objects that you want to prevent him or her from investigating, such as animal carcasses. A reliable “leave it” command will keep your dog from getting into trouble.


A rock solid and reliable “stay” command is just as important as recall for off-leash dogs. Example scenarios include when your dog is hiking ahead of you and encounters a busy intersection. Your dog should obey the stay command no matter the distance, distraction, or duration before being trusted off-leash.

Training your dog to obey off-leash commands is made simpler by ensuring your pet has mastered recall, drop it, leave it, and stay well before your first off-leash adventure!

Tip: One effective way for practicing recall is to turn drill sessions into a game. Listed here are five easy games for preparing your dog to walk off-leash

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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.

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