Many dog owners enjoy letting their pets roam free in the yard or down a trail, but it's important to know how to get them back on leash safely. In this article, we will share some tips from our experts that will help you train your pet and return him or her back to its leash.
Tips for getting your dog to return if they're not trained yet
The best way to ensure your dog will return safely to you is to properly train them for off-leash walking. However, if you find yourself in a situation where your dog has gone off the leash before you've properly trained them here are some tips for getting them back.
- If your dog is close by, call them to you in a happy voice and reward them with a treat or pet when they return. If your dog is food motivated and they see the treat that may be enough for them to return.
- If your dog is further away, try using a loud noise such as clapping your hands. If you have something else on hand that can make noise you can try that. Note that you do not want to scare your dog which may exacerbate the situation, you just want to get their attention. If they ran off they likely got distracted by a small animal, another dog, or something of interest. The loud noise can refocus their attention back to you.
How to off-leash train your dog
The best method for getting your dog to return to you is to prepare ahead of time with proper training. Here are five steps to properly off leash train your pup:
- Start with basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. Off-leash training is a much higher stakes situation in an uncontrolled environment, therefore start with easy training first. Once your dog has mastered these commands you can start working on off-leash training in a safe environment like a fenced yard or park. Off-leash training means calling your dog to return to you, either by name or by a command to come or touch. Touch is a common behavior that is easy to train.
- Use positive reinforcement when your dog follows your commands such as treats, toys, petting, and verbal praise.
- Be consistent with your commands and rewards, dogs thrive off of structure. Using a clicker is a great way to be consistent while also intermittently giving out treats so that your dog doesn't overindulge. If they don't comply, make sure you issue a command once and be patient for them to comply. They will eventually learn that to get what they want they need to respond the first time. This is important in an off-leash scenario.
- Remain patient while training your pup, it may take weeks, months, or even years to fully train your dog.
- Most importantly have fun! Off-leash training should be an enjoyable activity that both of you look forward to. Make it entertaining by playing games like fetch in open spaces where you know your dog will return.
When is it safe to let my dog off-leash?
It's important to remember that not every environment is suitable for letting your dog roam free. Here are a few things to take into account before letting them off:
- Check the local leash laws in your area, some require dogs to be on a leash at all times.
- Be aware of other people and animals in the area, make sure your dog will be safe if they run-up to an animal or person. If you are at a crowded park it is generally not recommended for dogs to roam off-leash as there could be too many distractions that may cause them injury.
- Ensure the environment has a safe escape route in case your dog gets spooked or scared. If they run off-leash and see a scary animal, they may try to return to you which could result in them running into oncoming traffic.
- Always carry a leash with you when taking your dog out for walks, even if you think it's unnecessary. It's better to be safe than sorry.
- Off-leash training can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog, but it's important to do it safely. Make sure to properly train them before letting them loose in an uncontrolled environment and always be aware of your surroundings. Have fun with your pup!