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Do you think walking off lead is important

(70 Posts)
freshstart24 Thu 11-Jan-18 15:41:06

We have a beautiful 10 month old black lab. He is walked at least twice a day and almost always one of these walks is mostly off lead. We've carefully built up his walk time as we've been warned about over exercising him whilst still young. So we are now up to about 50 minutes max a day.

There are a few safe off lead walks very close to us but they've recently become very very wet so whenever possible we are driving somewhere that he can go offlead.

After chatting to some fellow dog owners recently I've realised that quite a few don't bother with off lead walks.

Our dog seems to enjoy being off lead very much, and his recall is good so I do intend to continue with the off lead fun, but I'm wondering how important it is and wether I can scale down and do a bit more on the lead.

I'm interested in what other people do?

smashbake Thu 11-Jan-18 15:44:06

We can't walk ours off lead as the bugger runs away. However we have a large garden he can bomb round and gets a lot of on lead exercise.

trevortrevorslattery Thu 11-Jan-18 15:44:53

Ours (terriers) are a nightmare of unused energy if we don't give them at least one long off-lead walk a day. I would definitely not be able to cut it down but I don't know labradors so maybe you would be ok...?

Dogs do really love running around freely though bless them don't they?

Figrollsnotfatrolls Thu 11-Jan-18 15:47:13

Our rottweiler know the lead is a necessity to get to the walk - she would hate it on the entire walk, unlike our husky who is unfortunately lead full time!! It did actually make me doubt getting a dog that couldn't enjoy freedom!! She accepts it though, just me that feels bad!!

monkeywithacowface Thu 11-Jan-18 15:47:51

Have a 7 month old lurcher pup and 90% of his walks are off lead. Where we walk there are quite a few friendly off lead dogs and he LOVES to run around with them. His recall is very good so I don't envisage changing our routine as he seems so much happier and content after 30 minutes running himself stupid.

The mud has been a bit of a nightmare I admit and there's been a couple of walks recently where everyone has stayed on lead because we can't face another day of baths and mopping floors!

AlpacaLypse Thu 11-Jan-18 15:48:22

If a dog has good recall and there is a safe place to do it, I think off lead is by far the best exercise. They can govern their own pace and really enjoy the environment, whether it's smells or racing about after a ball, or interacting with other dogs.

monkeywithacowface Thu 11-Jan-18 15:49:18

I also meant to say I think lead walks are fine for physical exercise but not nearly as good as off lead for mental stimulation, which is what you really need with a puppy about hit his teens!

RickOShay Thu 11-Jan-18 15:49:39

I think walking off lead is essential. I also have a black lab, we have an off lead walk every day.
If possible you absolutely should.

BeyondThePage Thu 11-Jan-18 15:50:50

Ours is a little westie - he likes to be off lead, but when it is so muddy, he gets walked on the lead.

We know when he's had enough and wants off the lead because he will stop and raise a front paw when we get to the path that goes to the park - as if to say "can we?"

RatherBeRiding Thu 11-Jan-18 15:51:27

I only let my terrier off lead because I KNOW he won't stray far from me. He's not the sort to go chasing rabbits, disappear into the undergrowth, generally run away. But there are so many "Lost Dog" posts on FB that I would NEVER let a dog off lead unless I was 110% sure of their recall and it was somewhere where they were always in sight.

Our greyhound never goes off lead. She would be lost within minutes. Not worth the risk.

WeeMadArthur Thu 11-Jan-18 15:56:33

I think off lead is much more interesting for the dog so as well as getting more physical exercise they get more mental exercise as well, and I think that is as important when it comes to having a happy dog.

DDog (a Labrador) is walked mainly off lead and loves to run back and forth on the scent of things, something she wouldn’t be able to do on the lead, and often takes off on a futile attempt to catch a bird.

I would stick with going off lead and resign yourself to the mud, DDog is in her element in water/mud and I wash her feet and legs when we get in if it’s been awful and I have a ladies size 8 vest top I pull on her which covers her stomach when it’s muddy! If we go further afield I take a large flask with warm water and a jug and do her feet and legs before she gets back in the car. It’s worth it for a tired and happy lab.

BiteyShark Thu 11-Jan-18 15:58:39

I have a working cocker and he would go crazy not having off lead walks. Even just playing ball isn't the same in the garden as it is in a field off lead.

I feel it's so worth it for the dog to really stretch his legs properly to run about and unless you had a field for a garden they just wouldn't get that opportunity.

freshstart24 Thu 11-Jan-18 16:14:23

Thank you for all your replies. I'm glad others feel an off lead walk is a good thing for a young Labrador. He looks so happy dashing up and down, investigating smells and being free.

I don't mind him getting muddy, but our local walks have been over a foot deep in mud so I've needed to find alternatives..... I've found some great new walks though.

I just got a little confused when I heard so many people saying they don't bother with off lead walking. I began to wonder if I'd got things wrong. I'm sure most owners choose the right walks for their dogs, so I'll let them be and keep doing what I'm doing for my boy.

sprockercrazy Thu 11-Jan-18 16:17:55

Completely agree with biteyshark. My girl would go crazy if she didn't have a good off lead walk daily.
She needs to explore and run freely. As long as your dog has good recall then I can't understand why you wouldn't want to walk off lead ..

ButFirstTea Thu 11-Jan-18 16:19:09

We have an 8 month old wheaten terrier and he loves off lead walks. He can come home thoroughly tired from 30 mins off lead in the park, whereas we could do a lead walk for an hour and he would still be full of energy when he came home. The opportunity to interact with other dogs, chase balls, smell new things etc is all more mentally stimulating than an on-lead walk. We do walk on the lead too but he gets a decent off lead run around 5-6 days a week.

BiteyShark Thu 11-Jan-18 16:21:16

The only time I don't do at least one off lead walk a day is when he's on enforced rest due to illness or injury. As you said it's so nice to see them dashing about and stretching their legs.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 11-Jan-18 16:23:00

I think off lead is much more enjoyable for dogs. I barely bother with on lead walks. Dull for me and the dog.

mustbemad17 Thu 11-Jan-18 16:24:35

None of mine have ever been able to go offlead in public areas. For lots of different reasons; dog reactive, prey instinct, being disappearing little shits

I used to hire secure, private fields or indoor riding schools & set up games/throw balls etc for them instead. I think offlead is so important & if your dog can't be offlead in a public space then looking for alternatives is key.

I have had times where I haven't been able to do offlead at all so used to ramp up the mental stimulation at home with games & new training. I think sometimes dog owners think a physical walk is all the dog needs in a day

RickOShay Thu 11-Jan-18 16:25:32

Exactly. It gives me so much pleasure watching him enjoy life, it really does.

NorksAreMessy Thu 11-Jan-18 16:25:47

Oh yes.
I have a tinypack of five terriers and we have up to an hour off lead every day (and a ten minute ‘round the block’ on lead.)
They all have good recall, though, and stay together as a pack.
It is very VERY muddy at the moment, but they all get hosed down before we go back indoors.

They missed an off lead walk last week for one day because I was ill and DS is a bit nervous about having all five off lead at once, and the naughtiest one was SUPERNAUGHTY all day.

To be honest, I HATE walking them on lead. For a start there are five of the little buggers, so I turn into a maypole; and I just find it frustrating that we have to stop for each one to sniff every lamppost, wall, leaf, beetle along the way.
Whereas a long stroll with each of us speeding up and slowing down as we fancy is much more fun

missbattenburg Thu 11-Jan-18 16:39:16

I have a young springer (so another gun breed) and off lead seems to be very important to him. I think it's because he can really get a good run in and stretch his legs. I read an interview a few months ago with 3 orthopaedic surgeons and they all seemed to agree that strengthening muscles by running on soft ground was probably a better way to guard against joint issues than sticking to a 5mins per month rule.

He can also exercise his natural tendency to zig zag back and forth while sniffing - using his nose is a great deal of fun for him and if he were on lead he would only be able to smell things right by my side and at my pace. off lead he can take longer over some smells and really get stuck in!

Off lead is important to me because they are the walks I enjoy the most. Him and me romping around in a damp, muddy field with him darting off and catching up when I call is just how I pictured his life. Also, I like it so that suddenly finding himself off lead (i.e. me dropping the lead by accident) isn't seen by him a unique opportunity to bugger off - because he's off lead so often.

We walk for about an hour or so a day (not all at once) and I aim for 75% of that to be off lead.

MammaAgata Thu 11-Jan-18 16:49:49

I have a large naturally lazy breed dog that due to being a scent hound many people wouldn’t let off the lead. However, she’s walked every day for about an hour + off lead in parks/heaths etc. I drive out most days to take her somewhere different. I live in the country and can walk out my back gate onto fields and fields and miles of walking but I find she gets very bored doing the same thing everyday so we travel round alternating about 10 different locations where she can run free. Rarely is she on a lead, only on lanes or if we need to go to the vets etc. I think walks are far more than just exercise, it’s mental stimulation. The people I hear of complaining that their dogs are destructive, badly behaved etc I always think just haven’t had enough exercise. A tired dog should sleep. I can’t see most dogs getting the right level of mental stimulation and exercise being walked on a lead. Disclaimer though, I understand for the Houdini’s that bugger off this is feasible. But generally if a healthy happy dog with no issues surrounding behaviour or running off should be walked off lead every day.

WeAllHaveWings Thu 11-Jan-18 16:50:26

Our 4 yr old lab used to (recovering from knee surgery now) love off lead. If it got wet and muddy, we put on wellies and waterproof trousers, dog walking waterproofs and he got wet and muddy.

A good rub down with towels, hose down if required, was enough to make him clean enough after. Although it meant a lot of washing towels each week.

Lucisky Thu 11-Jan-18 16:54:02

Toy poodle owner here, and she loves being off the lead. We have some areas of good grass cover which she goes bananas on, perhaps because it is springy underfoot? But yes, mud is a problem. I often come back by the pond so she can wade in and wash off, but tbh some days I will stick to hard surfaces and lead only so I can have a rest from muddy paws.

RickOShay Thu 11-Jan-18 16:55:48

Agree with Mamma. I think a lot of unwanted behaviour is because the dogs haven’t had enough exercise.

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