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How far away do you let your dog go when off lead?

(37 Posts)
Stackers382 Sat 20-Jun-20 20:46:48

Just that really. I know it’ll be different in different situations but if you were walking through a quiet wood with no livestock, how far would you let your dog go?

Our dog is 10 months old, he used to stay within 10 feet of us-just sniffing the sides of the track ahead. He’ll now disappear into the forest, we keep walking and he’ll suddenly pop out ahead of us. He keeps his eye on us but I can’t always see him. It’s different in a park (I don’t actually let him off in parks at the moment) but this is in a forest that’s very quiet, often just 1 or 2 other dog walkers.

OP’s posts: |
Disfordarkchocolate Sat 20-Jun-20 20:50:48

Never did. For me dogs should be on leads.

SlightyJaded Sat 20-Jun-20 20:50:49

Pretty much as you describe. We have a spaniel and she likes to head off and sniff in the woods and imagine she is going to catch a squirrel. She runs off ahead and darts off the path left and right and then reappears up ahead a few minutes later.

I call her name occasionally if I am walking quite briskly ahead so that she has a sense of where i am.

My rule of thumb is that this is only ok when you have trained excellent recall into your dog and know they will return when you call them. And when you are familiar with the woods and know that they can't encounter a road or anything.

Floralnomad Sat 20-Jun-20 20:51:17

I have a patterdale x and he’s not allowed more than about 50m away and definitely not out of sight . I don’t let him off at all in woods / forests or anywhere with water as he is intent on killing as many woodland creatures and birds as he can catch and loves to go down a hole . Fortunately I discovered the hole diving thing when he was on a longline but it was still quite scary getting him back .

SlightyJaded Sat 20-Jun-20 20:51:49


Some dogs need to run off lead.

SlightyJaded Sat 20-Jun-20 20:53:45

Oh yes and if you know they aren't going to harm any other animals. I have seen our dog encounter enough ducks/birds etc to know she won't harm them and although she'd love to catch a squirrel, I don't think it's ever going to happen and I'm not convinced she'd do anything other than try and play with it if she did

Butterer Sat 20-Jun-20 20:57:15


Oh yes and if you know they aren't going to harm any other animals. I have seen our dog encounter enough ducks/birds etc to know she won't harm them and although she'd love to catch a squirrel, I don't think it's ever going to happen --and I'm not convinced she'd do anything other than try and play with it if she did--

^^ I've seen my friend's off-lead dog kill far too many squirrels (the worst time was in front of some small kids) in the park; I really don't understand why they think it's a bit embarrassing but otherwise fine.

Floralnomad Sat 20-Jun-20 20:58:57

I do think people need to keep in mind that it’s not just about killing other animals / birds some dogs do just chase and that’s not very fair on the wildlife as they don’t know they’re not going to get eaten and are terrified .

Butterer Sat 20-Jun-20 20:59:08

Actually, I probably do - someone on here said that some owners use their dogs to act out instead of acting out themselves - this brings fairly true in this case.

Twooter Sat 20-Jun-20 21:00:37

What slightly jaded said. I’m confident with his recall, don’t let him off at all if there’s livestock nearby and put him on the lead if I see people approaching or if we’re near a road.

PurBal Sat 20-Jun-20 21:00:41

There has been more than one close call when MIL dog hasn't come back...

LochJessMonster Sat 20-Jun-20 21:02:02

Same as you’ve described, he often goes out of sight in woodland but as long as I can hear him or he checks back in occasionally I’m not too worried.

DeborahAnnabelToo Sat 20-Jun-20 21:03:49

I've been wondering about this. I get edgy if our dog is out of sight but dh doesn't seem fussed. Her recall is reasonable but she loves to thunder through the undergrowth. Is it OK if your dog goes feral (without killing wildlife etc) for a few minutes?

DramaAlpaca Sat 20-Jun-20 21:04:44

I do exactly as @SlightyJaded does, also with a spaniel. He has excellent recall, whatever he's doing it only takes one whistle and he's by my side in an instant. There are lots of places for safe off lead walking where we are.

Our other spaniel, however, has always had to be kept on a lead or she'd be three fields away before I could stop her. Now she's older she can be let off after a few miles when she's starting to get tired, and she's grateful to be recalled because it might mean we are going home grin Also, if she's off lead when she's still feeling frisky she encourages the other dog to forget all about his excellent recall and he listens to her, rather than us. So on the lead it has to be, most of the time.

It's funny how some dogs have brilliant recall and others don't. Both of ours were trained the same way by DH who's an experienced working spaniel owner, but one always wants to please and the other is a feisty wee thing.

HogDogKetchup Sat 20-Jun-20 21:05:35

Spaniel too and he’s extremely needy and loyal! He disappears into hedges and bushes and pops out from a totally different direction than you’d expect. I feel totally relaxed about it. If I whistle he’s by my side.

AmberRoseGold Sat 20-Jun-20 21:06:07

My 10 mo lab seems to have zero interest in chasing any wild animals. Will return and check in with me on walks every couple of minutes but I do now let her go out of my sight. But she will return upon my whistle. Plus I am currently trying to train her to stop to a different whistle pattern using a ball. And she is so keen on the ball that she doesn’t want to stray far from it atm.
But if we are near children - not mine- or a dog on a lead I will have her to heel or on the lead. She is behaving really well atm and I feel like we are finally benefiting from all the training slog! Lovely to feel proud of her (PFD)

loopylindazdaughter Sat 20-Jun-20 21:08:45

@Disfordarkchocolate totoally diagree, a dog gets more exercise off lead, it builds trust between you both and allows the dogs to learn trust and relax on a walk.

My dog can be abit shouty on a lead, he seems to be super protective when on it. Off he just leads the way, sniffs around and tends to have a lovely time. Of course recall needs to be excellent

Pipandmum Sat 20-Jun-20 21:09:40

One of my dogs is not trustworthy - he'll always come back but after he's run after any other dogs, jumped all over the owners and kids. My other dog is very obedient and in 8 years she has never not come when called, and is hesitant when approaching others. First dog is on lead unless I'm on my own (he loves his ball). Second dog is off all the time when not on the street. But she never goes far away.
If you are confident in your dogs recall and behaviour around wildlife/people fine. If you are near farm animsls always keep your dog on a lead - you do not know how they will react to its presence.

HogDogKetchup Sat 20-Jun-20 21:10:23

Unless you have ample land it’s very cruel to keep a working breed on a lead. Everyone should be able to understand this more after lockdown. Besides, OP wasn’t asking for a judgment but opinions of people who are like minded.

BurtsBeesKnees Sat 20-Jun-20 21:13:48

I have a border terrier and if she gets a scent if something she's off. I live in a very rural area with little farm land so I can let her go without worrying about farm stock, land or roads. But she does worry me sometimes but so far has always popped up next to me, so she obviously knows where I am. I'm thinking about a tracker onto a collar, so if she does go missing I know where she is. But I've heard horror stories about terriers getting their collars stuck etc and owners finding dead dogs.

dogwithmohican Sat 20-Jun-20 21:19:24

My last dog had 99% recall (deer were a weakness) and I would let her go out of sight and some considerable distance safe in the knowledge that she would return immediately when called. She would also stay at heel if asked. Current dog has selective deafness so I keep him in sight and put him on the lead if I see dogs or people approaching.

Honeyroar Sat 20-Jun-20 22:16:15

I only let them run ahead when I can see them and see what’s coming/ ie, bikes, horses other dogs etc. Their recall is mostly good, but I think it’s a bit rude to let them run ahead where I can’t see them, sometimes people are scared or their dogs are worried by off lead dogs. I’ve had nervous/reactive dogs before, I guess I’m just wary. They still get plenty of hurtling around when it’s clear.

Ylvamoon Sat 20-Jun-20 23:03:57

grin mine really just trott a few steps in front or behind me... ok, sometimes they get distracted and fall further behind or run ahead to say hallo to an other dog. But they soon catch up and are back in 'formation"!
... Ahh the joys of companion breeds, no need to train this kind of behaviour either!

StillMedusa Sun 21-Jun-20 02:03:46

Mine's off lead in our local country park or woods; we both know the exits and pretty much every hunting spot (she only ever catches shrews and then has no idea what to do with them so I take them and let them scamper away!) Recalls to my whistling, but can take a minute or two to return. I can usually hear her in the bushes as her tag jingles! She's 13m old.

I clip her on if another dog approaches on a lead or I don't know them.
I do have a tracker on her harness..just in case!

I can't imagine keeping my dog on a lead all the time.. her joy is in running free and mine is in seeing her gallop and race and snuffle freely!

GeraltOfRivia Sun 21-Jun-20 06:58:44

Mine's off lead most walks as he needs to be able to look about. He likes to mooch ahead but constantly goes back and forth so I can see him and is rarely out of sight. He is 14 months and recall is improving all the time. I can trust him not to jump up these days and m, unless people have food, he's more interested in sniffing grass and trees.

I do only walk him in the local dog park or nearby woods and trails. I'd never let him off in the "people park" where everyone picnics. That would be a disaster, he'd eat everything. We're working on that!

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