Are you ready to take your dog’s obedience skills to the next level? Off-leash training can be a rewarding experience for both you and your pup, but it requires time, patience and the right techniques. With help from a professional off leash dog trainer, your pup can learn how to obey commands even when not on a leash.
The best way to ensure successful off-leash training is to start as early as possible. Setting a proper dog training foundation begins early and can help you set the tone for how your pup responds to various stimuli throughout their life. Introducing basic commands when a pup is young will provide the foundation for an easier time during the leash-free phase. Working with a professional trainer via a puppy to adult dog training program (like our Perfect Puppy Program!) can help you develop the proper techniques necessary for off leash training so that both you and your dog can enjoy success. If you have an older dog, don’t fret! You can still achieve off leash training, it will just take a bit more effort than if you were starting with a clean slate.
Establish Rules, Boundaries, and Expectations
Before you get started on off-leash training, it’s important to establish rules, boundaries and expectations via ON leash training. Letting your pup know what is expected of them will help them stay focused and understand their role. Establishing a clear set of rules such as no pulling on the leash and no jumping up on people helps create a strong foundation for successful off-leash training. Having realistic expectations of what your pup can learn also goes hand in hand with rule setting; for example, if your dog is experiencing behavioral issues such as lunging and barking at other dogs or people, aggression, or extreme fear, off leash training on hiking trails may not be a realistic goal for your dog. That doesn’t mean off leash skills aren’t important, however! Your dog spends most of their time off the leash inside your home, and in your backyard, so it is worth practicing even if your dog being off leash during a camping trip isn’t in your future.
Use as Many Positive Reinforcement Training Techniques as You Can
Positive reinforcement is a highly useful quadrant of learning when training off-leash. As soon as your pup displays a desirable behavior, mark with “YES!” and reward your dog immediately with high value food, a toy, or verbal praises. This will help ensure that your pup knows exactly what they did to receive the reward and makes them more likely to repeat it in the future. Making your coming when called training drills a fun game encourages successful problem-solving behaviors that are essential for off-leash control. At Dog Dynamix, we begin all of our teaching using a liberal foundation of positive reinforcement training, paired with long line work (training with a 15-20 foot leash), then we layer remote collar training over the skills once they are solid. It is really important to have a professional’s guidance when using corrections in your dog training program, so please do your research and find an appropriate dog trainer experienced in off leash training to help you, rather than attempting to use tools at home.
Understand Canine Communication
Pay attention to the body language of your pooch! Learning how your canine communicates can help you predict when a mistake is likely to occur. Does your pup look relaxed or tense? Were they focused on you, until a distraction showed up? Ears perked up and forward, tail stiff or wagging tightly? By learning to read their body language, you can be proactive in your dog training rather than reactive… it is much easier to call your dog off a distraction when they are THINKING about taking off, rather than when they are in full sprint. Teaching obedience commands are of course very important for off- leash control; however, understanding canine communication and what your dog is going to do next will be very beneficial when training.
Practice Daily Drills with Your Pet
Working with your pup on a daily basis is key to successfully reaching off-leash control. Every single day, whether it be during walks, in the garden, or at the beach, you should exercise and practice recall (coming when called) drills with your pet. Establish a routine and be consistent with what you are asking them to do; this will help them understand and retain better over time. To proof these commands for your pup’s safety when off-leash, gradually increase any distractions that may be present. With patience and consistency, you will soon reap the rewards of having an obedient off- leash dog!
If you are looking for off leash dog training in Colorado or Ohio, we’ve got you covered. Dog Dynamix has professional dog trainers near Denver, Dayton, and Columbus, ready to help you train your dog.