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Letting Your Dog Off The Lead For The First Time

Letting your new dog off the lead to go and explore the smells and sights on a walk is an exciting experience for both of you. You may find he runs around completely uninhibited, exploring his newfound freedom, or he may be more reserved, nervous and in need of reassurance.

Training your dog to stay with you off the lead is all about repetition and rewarding. Always bring a handful of doggie treats when out with him so that you can reward him every time he returns, but keep them out of sight to make your dog work for his reward.

Begin with your dog on the lead
Begin with your dog on the lead

Begin On The Lead

Your dog will be distracted by all sorts of strange scents and noises, as well as other dogs and people. It is important to keep him occupied so that he doesn’t wonder off. Begin by running through all of the commands that you have taught him (sit, stay, come), but this time on the lead and in a place with minimal distractions. Your garden is a good place to start.

The most important command at this stage is “stay”. Be persistent with this command by bringing him back every time he wanders off. Once he is staying as commanded, you need to begin using the “come” command shortly after “stay”. If your dog is slightly reluctant to come you can give him a gently pull on the lead. Remember to give him a treat and lots of verbal praise immediately after he responds correctly to a command.

Always reward your dog when he comes back to you
Always reward your dog when he comes back

Off The Lead

Once you feel confident with the way your dog is responding to your commands on the lead, it is time to let him off. Choose a quiet place (away from traffic) and run through the commands once more. Give your dog the “sit” command, followed by “stay”, and then remove his lead. Before you let him go, remind him of the commands, walk on a short distance, and then allow him to go and explore.

Stay in regular contact with him by calling him back and praising him with treats, verbal praise and touch. Your dog may run off a few times during this process, but it is important that you do not run after him, as he’ll think that you are playing a game. After the initial burst of energy he is likely to return. Call him back and don’t panic. Have confidence in your dog, but be authoritative, as he must learn to respect you.

Every time your dog comes back reward him with plenty of praise, fuss, and a treat so that he wants to return next time.

Open your arms and use a happy voice to encourage him back
Open your arms and use a happy voice to encourage him back

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