When off lead when it's your first dog?

(76 Posts)
Goingtobeawesome Sat 26-Nov-16 16:53:26

She is only four months and I'm in no hurry but it needs to be what is best for her.

In the garden she is off lead, except when it's dark and if she has been particularly naughty had a dead mouse this week, thanks cat and it is secure and 25m by 20m.

There is a huge meadow where we sometimes have a walk but I'm not sure if it is secure and there are lots of places she could hide or get lost.

Her recall is not 100% and I wouldn't expect it to be given she's only young but if I lost her...sad.

emmaluggs Sat 26-Nov-16 16:57:09

Now. It's the best time start, as she will naturally want to stay close. Start off in the house practising recall reward like mad make it fun fun fun, then outside into the garden, and work it up. If you are super worried try it on a recall long line lead. The longer you leave it the harder it will be and the less reliable her recall will get. Also if she's not good oriented, use her face toy but only let her have it when you are training. Hope that helps.

emmaluggs Sat 26-Nov-16 16:58:07

*Not food orientated

LilCamper Sat 26-Nov-16 17:00:05

Every dog is food orientated. They have to eat or they will die. You just need to find what they think is high value.

Yes to a long line bit only ever attach it to a harness.

I recommend the book 'Total Recall' by Pippa Mattinson.

JigglyTuff Sat 26-Nov-16 17:16:56

Is there anyone else that comes on walks with you? As well as practicing in the house (around corners/in different rooms is good), recall back and forth between two people is good at teaching them recall.

I also find it helps to have a specific command (I say 'come, come!') rather than just their name.

Goingtobeawesome Sat 26-Nov-16 17:18:57

We do name, come but if she is chewing a leaf/twig or having fun it doesn't always work. In the house pretty much every time she comes.

Serin Sat 26-Nov-16 17:19:53

As extra security we let ours off for the first time when walking with a friend who's older dog had perfect recall and sort of taught ours what to do.

JigglyTuff Sat 26-Nov-16 17:30:40

The running back and forth thing between two people is good - it's like a game then. And make a MASSIVE fuss of her every time she comes back.

Goingtobeawesome Sat 26-Nov-16 17:37:46

There is a tiny area of fenced off grass she likes to go to and I let go of her lead to run four metres to daddy today and she went to him as soon as he called and she made a fuss of him.

My book says ten months old and only when recall, behaviour, emergency drop (??) etc off lead are perfect.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sat 26-Nov-16 22:42:01

Your book's giving rubbish advice! She's never going to get recall if she never gets a chance to be off-lead in the first place ....

Definitely get a copy of Total Recall and work through it step by step.

Obviously you need to use common sense - I wouldn't let my dog off in a field full of people having picnics because in that scenario I wouldn't trust his recall. If we're in the countryside and all into a field of sheep he's back on the lead because I couldn't be 100% sure that he'd come back immediately and the consequences of not coming back could be devastating. However in normal circumstances he's off lead as soon as we're away from roads and has been since he was 3 months old.

We use a whistle and it's lovely to watch him spin around as soon as he hears the peeps and comes racing back to me smile

emmaluggs Sun 27-Nov-16 08:47:18

LilCamper, I have to disagree one my dogs is certainly not food orientated and therefore use toys for training. Food for training and food for existence are 2 dry different things .

We used to go the woods a lot and if they got to far ahead hide behind a tree and call their name and they'd coming running to find us.

Goingtobeawesome Sun 27-Nov-16 08:57:58

She has come in from the garden every time I've used the whistle lately but it has only been a few times. Apart from one time it only took one blow.

We use recall to come in from the garden.

viques Sun 27-Nov-16 09:06:25

I think you will confuse her by having two aural recall signals - a whistle and verbal. Choose one and make sure everyone does the same. apparently walking backwards slowly as you call is a better visual support than standing still.

slenderisthenight Sun 27-Nov-16 09:10:22

Now. I find they're very easy to train to heel when they're tiny and will trot along quite happily. Also, don't hang around calling and waiting. You are the pack leader and your dog needs to know she must keep up with you when you're on the move or risk getting left behind. Never stand in the same place and call.

pigsDOfly Sun 27-Nov-16 13:05:07

Noitsnot is right that book's advice is rubbish. A lot of dogs are adolescent at 10 months, which is just about the worst time to be trying to practice recall.

I speak from bitter experience here, my dog had a really good recall until 8 months when she hit adolescence and decided that dodging me when I was trying to get her back on the lead was the best game ever. I had her on a long trailing lead for months after that and we practiced and practiced but it took me a long time before I felt confident enough to get rid of the long lead.

She grown up now though and her recall is solid.

pigsDOfly Sun 27-Nov-16 13:06:10

Sorry, that should be 10 months is the worst time to start recall, practice should be going on all their lives.

Goingtobeawesome Sun 27-Nov-16 14:02:40

It's so confusing when everyone tells me different. The book is American if that makes a difference.

She took herself for a walk today of about half an hour but she shouldn't be out more than twenty. Other times she's had enough after ten minutes and brings me home. Maybe twice a week she has a great adventure and we are out for an hour, not solid walking an hour of course.

She isn't confused by me mostly calling her with the odd time using the whistle. I use the whistle if I really need her in and to keep her refreshed with her training.

pigsDOfly Sun 27-Nov-16 14:38:55

As long as you're working on training her, you'll get there in the end and not all dogs respond in the same way, so to an extent it is a matter of learning what works for you and your dog.

Are you going to training classes, I found classes really helped me to understand how to train my dog - they're more to teach the owner to train the dog than anything the dog actually learns while in the classes.

But I would say, whatever else you're doing waiting until a dog is 10 months old to let it off the lead is not a good idea. At scary as it is at 4 months I would be making a start if I were you. A long trailing lead attached to the dog with a harness - not an extending lead - is a good way to start so you don't feel dog has total freedom to get away from you.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sun 27-Nov-16 15:00:27

Honestly, put the other book away and get Total Recall by Pippa Mattinson. She's an extremely well-respected gundog trainer and she knows what she's talking about. (It's also got a picture of a lovely golden retriever on the cover wink).

The whistle isn't a magic tool - you have to teach her what it means. So follow the steps in the book and you WILL get a solid recall.

I wouldn't worry about confusing her with a verbal command as well as the whistle - we use both with our dog and he knows that both mean get back here now!

Goingtobeawesome Sun 27-Nov-16 16:23:55

She knows what the whistle means as she comes in every time I blow it. I test her by standing where she can't see me and in she comes grin.

We are unsure about puppy classes really struggle with socialisation but I really want to do it as she loves meeting other dogs.

I'm worried about letting her off the lead as she'll think the whole place is a buffet as she loves to eat leaves and grass etc plus has started chewing twigs and while I know she's bonded me with I'm worried all the foliage will be too much temptation.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sun 27-Nov-16 16:47:02

You've just got to bite the bullet! She'll never learn if she doesn't get the chance ...

Total Recall is your friend...

And yes, definitely take her to puppy classes but make sure they're run by someone who's up to date in their training methods and doesn't spout guff about dominance and pack theory etc

Goingtobeawesome Sun 27-Nov-16 16:58:21

She's only four months. Eek.

Could you advise how we know which classes are good please? We've been told about three but have no idea if they are any good. Is there a trip advisor type website for puppy classes?

TrionicLettuce Sun 27-Nov-16 17:08:17

Another vote for getting Total Recall, it's a brilliant book.

I always start recall training at home right from day one and my pups start going off lead right from their very first walk post puppy vaccinations. I agree that waiting until 10 months to let them off for the first time is a recipe for disaster. Not only will they have greater confidence and so be happier straying further away from you but it's right around when you'd expect them to hit adolescence and start pushing boundaries.

I have no issues with using both a command and a whistle. I use the whistle to recall them collectively or when they're further away as it carries more than shouting, plus whistling is always emotionless.

With regard to puppy classes I'd ask if you can go along to watch one without taking your pup so you can see what the class is like. Avoid anyone who spouts dominance theory, uses aversives or just lets all the puppies run riot together.

Goingtobeawesome Sun 27-Nov-16 17:13:28

What are aversives?

I can't let her off lead in the play area alone so will have to wait until Thursday at the earliest when dh is at home, had planned to wait until six months but shall we try this week and also, would it be better with her doggy friend and his owner? (Dh wouldn't be there then).

I'm going to look on amazon for the book. Thank you.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sun 27-Nov-16 18:01:07

And knowing what the whistle means when she's in the garden is very different from knowing what it means in all kinds of situations.

Start off by just pairing it with food - every time you feed her blow a series of short pips (I do four but the exact number isn't important, just don't do one longer peep as that means stop). Don't use it in anger as it were until you've thoroughly proofed it in several different situations, but you're best off reading the book

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