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When did you first let your dog off lead?

(27 Posts)
crapcrapcrapcrap Fri 21-Nov-14 22:13:48

Pure noseyness really - I don't think there's a single one size fits all answer.

I was walking DDog this morning. She was off lead but we were approaching the road so I recalled her and put her lead on. A man overtook me as I did so and asked if she was just young. I told him we think she's about 7 or 8 months, and he said "She's very young to be off the lead and under control". I didn't know if that was a compliment or a veiled criticism.

I've had her for about 7 weeks and we've worked intensively on lead walking and recall to the exclusion of almost all other training. She earns all her food ration through the day, getting about half her daily intake through the course of a walk. I know I can recall her from other dogs and people on a long line. She also has separation anxiety and follows me like a shadow. I'm getting defensive just writing this! But I feel confident letting her off in low risk areas.

What do you think?

rumbleinthrjungle Fri 21-Nov-14 22:19:12

Almost from the start with puppy, to get the habit there. Only in safe areas though! My spaniel's recall is better some days than others and at age two it still needs working on. I found the total recall book by pippa mattinson (on Amazon kindle) very helpful and go back those strategies for the days when she sees a squirrel and completely ignores me.

JulietBravoJuliet Fri 21-Nov-14 23:33:43

From the very first time we walked, on a long line. Always thought it's best to start as I mean to go on!

senna123 Sat 22-Nov-14 00:07:09

agree with above. My favourite online dog trainer suggests waiting until your puppy is a year old.. however everyone we met whilst out on walks suggested that it was much better to let them off young as they aren't brave enough to leave you and want you always in sight.. I am so glad I listened to them and fully recommend letting puppy's off young

Isthatwhatdemonsdo Sat 22-Nov-14 12:26:58

When she was first allowed out after her first jabs. She stuck to me like glue. She's 9 month's now her recall with no distractions is brilliant. However not do great when other dogs or horses are around but I'm working on this.

TheRealMaudOHara Sat 22-Nov-14 12:29:05

Definitely as young as possible. I could run faster than him when he was tiny which made it easier too! Recall now is exc excellent. You're doing the right thing.

basildonbond Sat 22-Nov-14 14:49:39

I let dpup off as soon as he was able to go out after his jabs. We'd done lots of recall work in the garden and had a solid reaction to 'wossis' when he was distracted. I took him to 'safe' places only to start with (i.e. mostly enclosed, would have to run a long, long way to get anywhere near a road) and he was brilliant - stuck to me like glue for the first few months - was actually quite hard to do any proper recall training outside as he wouldn't go more than about 5 feet away from him to start with!

Taz1212 Sat 22-Nov-14 16:57:05

From the first walk. He's 5 months now and has great recall so long as there isn't another dog about. He will happily leave a dog, but it's a struggle to get him to not race up to them in the first place.

He goes back on lead at various points during our walks- e.g. as we approach a road, if an on lead dog is approaching us, on paths where we are likely to encounter cyclists etc. I use a 5m lead and he happily goes on it when needed and happily races about off lead when we're somewhere safe.

Owllady Sat 22-Nov-14 17:49:27

It depends on your dog imo
But I still don't trust my 2yr plus dog in very busy situations
Though she's fine in others
So many people have them off lead when really they shouldn't., so I imagine that's just what the bloke thought.

LoathsomeDrab Sat 22-Nov-14 17:56:48

Always from their very first walk as puppies, when they're too small to want to go far and too slow to outrun me.

Having sighthounds, recall is the first thing I work on with puppies (who have already had a good grounding in it from their breeder) and I continually reinforce it on every walk. I wouldn't dream of setting off with the dogs without having pockets full of cheese/ham/hot dogs grin

My youngest has just turned 1 year old and has a very solid recall.

Owllady Sat 22-Nov-14 21:39:19

I have always had rescue dogs, so I imagine my experience is different anyway, sorry

crapcrapcrapcrap Sat 22-Nov-14 23:25:32

Thanks smile

She's very new to me but as I say we've worked intensively on recall and loose leash walking. She arrived at around 6 months of age with no manners, apparently no training and boundless energy so I had to prioritise the skills we'd need to a) be able to take her everywhere with me while we address the SA and b) burn off a bit of the crazy so I could get more focus from her.

Anyway, it's of little consequence for now because she's come into season, so it's back on the long line again!

Booboostoo Sun 23-Nov-14 07:33:23

If you have a puppy the best thing is to find a secure area and let it off the lead as soon as you get it (8-10wks?). Puppies are scared of the big wide world and will stay close so you can reward this behaviour right from the start.

I also teach the puppy its name and play the recall game as soon as I get them from the breeders.

With an older puppy whose already been out or a dog I'd use a long line until certain of a good recall.

I do have to say though OP that I have only ever had one dog, an obedience dog, which I would trust off lead around cars because she would stay in the heel position. I wouldn't take the risk with my other dogs, there is no reason really.

crapcrapcrapcrap Sun 23-Nov-14 08:05:35

No plans to walk her off lead around cars, and I'm not really aiming for high level obedience. I just want reliable recall (there's scenthound in her) and no pulling smile

Booboostoo Sun 23-Nov-14 12:17:07

I misunderstood your 'approaching a road" comment to mean you were on the street and approaching an intersection, sorry.

crapcrapcrapcrap Sun 23-Nov-14 12:40:09

Ah I see - no, we were in the woods when this happened smile the road was still some distance away but I wanted her on the lead before we got there smile

Booboostoo Sun 23-Nov-14 20:18:16

The guy sounds bonkers and totally interfering then! I, wrongly, assumed he may have had a bit of a point as ever very well trained dogs can lose concentration and make a huge mistake by a road.

VeganCow Sun 23-Nov-14 23:05:29

Have had dogs for 25 years, always let them off after the second injection. So, 11 weeks old with current dog. Sooner the better, let off lead on park, walk away, dog will follow.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sun 23-Nov-14 23:32:16

Well I hate to confuse the issue but I let my dog off the lead when he was still very young and I wish I hadn't. He had no fear and just went off. His recall was fine but his heel work was always awful because he simply had no fear of leaving my side. When I have another dog I'll keep it on a lead or line for much longer in the hope that it gets used to that.

Booboostoo Mon 24-Nov-14 06:30:25

How old was he msadorabelle? There is a small window when they are timid usually up to 14-16 weeks. Of course there is always the exception to the rule!!!

Heel work is a completely different issue. The dog won't stick to your side for heel work because they are worried, the dog would have to be a nervous wreck to do that! Initial recall training exploits the puppy's natural tendency to want to be near you. You need to work on the heel command separately, I find hand targeting helps a lot.

Dancingyogi Mon 24-Nov-14 07:55:15

Dpup's desire to play with other dogs trumped his fear of leaving my side - it's a personality thing and he really wasn't scared of very much. Recall is a problem when faced with other dogs, I wish I'd been more aware of the need to control his excitement levels with doggie interactions.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Mon 24-Nov-14 11:43:54

Thanks Booboo yes that's all very true. I was secretary of an obedience school and he's also a gun dog so he's had plenty of training. I don't know how he passed his tests when his heel work was so bad. confused

I think he was probably about three months when I let him off the lead. He just had no fear and thought he knew best. He's still a bit like that now but he's eleven now so probably too late to worry. hmm grin

CarbeDiem Sun 30-Nov-14 08:30:49

I tried to rescue a roughly 12 month old bitch doberman X yesterday.
She'd been let off her lead and came towards me with dpup, bounding around, curious and flighty. Dpup growled and she ran off. No owner in sight.
It wasn't until 30 mins later, after we were heading home from the farmers market that someone told Dh she was lost and her owner was looking for her.
On the drive home I just had a bad feeling that she'd ran through the apartment blocks, away from where we'd seen her and was on the other side of the blocks - very busy road.
Dh drove as slow as possible while I looked and there she was, standing very close to the road and howling sad
We pulled over and I jumped out with dpups leash and a bag of raw sausage in my pocket smile
Doberman wouldn't come close enough to clip on the leash, she was too scared to accept a treat and she bolted - luckily I'd positioned myself facing her with my back to the road so she ran back the way she came.
I followed but she wouldn't let me get close, it didn't help that I speak a different language to the one she understands but I tried .
Anyway, I thought it best to try and herd her back the way she came, it was working but then I lost sight of her. Dh and I searched in the car but we couldn't see her sad
I've been so worried since and I hope her owner simply caught her and that's why I couldn't see her. I also hope she learned a lesson that this lovely girl can't yet be trusted not to bolt.
Dh said that even if the owner didn't catch her at that point, not to worry as lots of the stall holders knew she was missing so would catch her and keep her there..... I'm not sure if true or just to make me feel bettersmile I'm tempted to go back today and ask blush

JoffreyBaratheon Sun 30-Nov-14 16:31:46

Just let our's offlead for the second time at 13 weeks. Puppy training class have recommended we let them offlead ASAP in a safe area. Today we went to some woods and when a distance from the road and carpark let her off. She stuck to us like glue. A mass of people with about 8 dogs between them came through very shortly after and I thought it might be too much for her (she is very small and quite cautious around other dogs). But all those dogs (also offlead) were friendly and polite to her.

Her first lesson last week and I had been expecting 'Sit' (which she already has) but in fact he started with recall - "(Dog's name) What's this?" which is working very well. We're doing random very short sessions in the house and garden and it did work today. Easier to start early as they are naturally klingons at a young age. I had a very reactive dog years ago because we didn't let strange dogs or offlead dogs come close to her (over protective and it did her no favours). Ever since then - every dog since then we have worked hard to get a recall and let them offlead as it can transform the quality of their lives.

Notsoskinnyminny Sun 30-Nov-14 16:48:08

Our was about 12 weeks, the breed is notorious for having a high prey drive and poor/non-existent recall but the trainer we went to said bollocks he'd never had a dog who couldn't be trained to come back and gave us lots of games to play with her and strategies. She can be a madam on local walks, probably because she could find her way there and back so I try to vary the route and always have nice treats but if we go somewhere new she never runs too far ahead. At breed meet-ups she's often the only one offlead because the other owners are too frightened to let their dogs off.

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