How to Teach a Dog to Walk Off-Leash

Here, basic steps for off-leash training will be discussed.  

Be Realistic

Certain dog breeds do not excel at walking off-leash, especially those with high prey drives. While it is true that dogs can be trained to follow almost any command, especially when trained as a puppy, dog owners should know that certain breeds will be better off-leash companions than others. Listed here are ten of the best dog breeds that are good off-leash.

Practice with a Long Leash

Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, begin teaching your dog how to walk properly off-leash by incorporating a long (20 – 30’) leash into training. When your dog begins to wander more than 10 – 15’ feet away, call your dog back to you and give it a treat. When your dog walks within an appropriate distance without having to be called back, toss treats to your pet and provide plenty of praise. The goal is to teach your dog that staying within a certain range is ideal.

Practice Off-Leash Walking in Safe Areas

Before you take your dog on your first off-leash hike, practice in a safe location such as an empty dog park or another large, fenced-in area. Practice off-leash skills in a variety of situations, such as when distracted or with other dogs or people nearby.

Always Have High Value Rewards on Hand

When you do take your dog off-leash for the first time, be sure to have high value rewards on hand. If your dog prefers toys over treats, keep a squeaky toy in your back pocket. The goal is to be able to get your dog’s attention (and back to you) no matter what.

What Not to Do

Do not begin to teach your dog to walk off-leash until he or she has a rock-solid recall (i.e., ability to come when called). Do not take your dog to an area where off-leash hiking is not permitted, no matter how well trained your dog. Finally, do not allow your dog to interact with other humans or animals while off-leash, unless invited, no matter how friendly your dog. It is important to remember that leashed animals can view off-leash dogs as a threat.

Teaching your dog to safely be off-leash can be easy, especially if you and your pet are well-bonded. By understanding your dog’s drive and motivation, you can have your dog safely walking off leash in no time!


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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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