When the dog is enjoying its free run, you need to be careful. Read here how to keep your dog’s attention and how to properly walk him without a leash.
Running around without a leash is great fun for most dogs. However, you must remain vigilant, as even a small distraction can cause the dog to bolt and lose sight of him. You can read here how your dog stays alert and which games you can use to improve the freedom of walking without a leash.
Slowly unleash the dog
As soon as the leash is off, most dogs race straight away. Because of this, many dogs pull and urge to be let go. You can avoid this by allowing the dog to calm down about half a minute before you let go of the leash. The dog is only allowed to start when you give the “go ahead” signal.
The whistle as a helper in freewheeling
The whistle is very popular with many dog owners because it makes a clear sound that the dog can easily hear even at a distance. The whistle is often used to call the dog back without a leash.
With a little practice, you can also use the whistle to convey other signals to your dog. A short whistle can mean “come”, along with one “place”, the double whistle “sit” or “stay”.
To ensure that the dog connects the whistle correctly, always whistle immediately after the word or hand signal. Practice each signal individually to avoid confusion.
Stay alert and outdo impulses
So that your dog doesn’t run away at the first distraction and you can no longer retrieve him, you must always watch him and be alert when he walks off the leash.
You can use these body signals to tell early on that your dog is interested in something and will probably move away from you right away:
- frozen posture
- raised nose
- faster breathing
- soft whine
Get your dog’s attention now so he doesn’t run away. You can do this with things that your dog particularly likes, such as sausage or his favorite toy.
Test signals at a distance
Free running offers the opportunity to test whether your dog has actually internalized the signals it has learned, or whether it has linked them to a situation (training) or a place (dog place, garden).
Get your dog’s attention when he’s walking off a leash by shouting “sit” or “down”. If he reacts, he has internalized the signals.
Include games in the freewheel
If the dog romps freely across the meadow, small games are ideal. For example, you can hide and let your dog find you. Yell or whistle to give your dog a tip.
Games are not only fun, they can also strengthen bonds. In this way, young dogs learn that they must never lose sight of their human. Games can also enhance off-leash walking for adult dogs.
Keep calling your dog to you
Many dogs have learned that if you walk off-leash, you will always be called as soon as game is in sight or when it is heading back home. The dog will of course be less willing to respond to calls.
It can help if you keep calling your dog over to you when you are running loose. Rejoice in his return and let him roam free again at your signal.
If you want your dog to really let off steam while walking without a leash, you can practice the “rum” signal with him. With hand gestures and the signal “boom” you first lead the dog around a tree, later around a bench and if he does it quickly, around a barn or a small pond.
If you keep your dog busy while running free, this has two advantages: your dog really enjoys going for a walk without a leash and you can always keep an eye on your four-legged friend.