How to train your dog to walk off the leash

Introduction

Training your dog to walk off the leash can be a very rewarding venture for both you and your animal. The extra freedom given to your dog will allow them to get more exercise and experience a wider variety of sensory stimuli. As an owner you will feel less ‘tied down' by your dog, and will thereby be able to feel more relaxed when out with them.

This article has been written as a list of steps that you should go through in order to successfully discipline your dog to walk off the leash. Carry out each step fully and do not skip steps. If your dog responds badly to a step, work a bit more on the previous one. It is also important to use your discretion when using instructions such as these, as not all dogs will respond the same way. After all, failure to carry out instructions properly may lead to your pet's life being put at stake.

Train your dog to walk off the leash!
Train your dog to walk off the leash!
My Dog Pulls. What Do I Do?
My Dog Pulls. What Do I Do?

A great book for dog owners struggling with animals that 'pull'. I recommend that if your dog pulls you tackle this first, rather than using off-the-leash walking as an alternative.

 
Dog Training For Dummies
Dog Training For Dummies

I've always been a fan of the 'For Dummies' series, and this book is no exception. Easy to follow, a must-have reference!

 

Step 1: Walk your dog on the leash

This may seem rather obvious, but do train your dog to walk on the leash before trying anything more daring. Walking your dog with a leash familiarises them with the concept of discipline, which will carry over into further training. While fully under your control, allow them to become comfortable around other dogs, animals and anything else you can think of that may startle them. Doing this decreases the likelihood that they will bolt out of fear* when they are off the leash, so really concentrate and put a lot of effort into this aspect of their training. Finally, teach your dog to heel under any circumstances. You ideally want them to be able to walk exactly parallel to you; however, the key requirement here is that they always return to within a few feet of you when called.

Step 2: Switch to a long, retractable lead

 

If you haven't already invested in one, get your hands on a retractable lead. I believe the original was designed by a company called ‘Flexi' (many variations now exist), and they look like this:

Click on the links below to buy one of these leads (recommended, generally a better deal).  Alternatively, print out this image and show it to the attendant at your local pet store.
Click on the links below to buy one of these leads (recommended, generally a better deal). Alternatively, print out this image and show it to the attendant at your local pet store.

Gradually allow your dog to venture further and further away from you while using a lead like this, while always maintaining complete control and cutting the distance down if they are unruly. Remember to reinforce their knowledge of the ‘heel' command. This process will help both you and your dog become more confident with being further apart from each other while out.

Step 3: Let them off in an enclosed area

Without your dog, scout out a good enclosed area. It's worth spending the time to try to find a truly ‘enclosed' plot of land - no exits apart from gates - for the first few times you try this with your animal. Children's play-parks are often great for this, though go at night so as not to cause a disturbance. You should initially keep your dog right by your side, but allow them the freedom to wander as they become more familiar with their new independence. Furthermore, it is essential that you continue to train your dog to heel.

Step 4: Start walking them without the leash for short stretches

This is the final step. Start letting your dog off in exposed areas for short stretches. Try to do this near (or straight out of) one of the enclosed areas in which you have been training them, in order to ease the transition. Increase the stretch as your dog becomes more experienced, until they are able to walk off the leash for a slightly longer distance than that which you intend to take them on a regular basis. Again, the animal must still - without question - be able to heal when called.

Final tips

  • Don't take your dog on pavements or anywhere near the road: I have had a few really close calls myself because of straying too close to cars, so learn from my mistakes and stay well away from them.
  • Don't rush the process: This is your dog's welfare we're talking about, here. Take a considerable amount of time on each step. The whole process (not including training your dog to walk on the leash) should take at least 6 months.
  • Always pay attention!!: Keep your eye on the animal at all times. Consciously make an effort to remind yourself that you should be doing this.
  • Try not to go at night: Reduced visibility makes walks at night a definite risk. Saying that, don't use this as an excuse!
  • Enjoy walks!: This is perhaps the most important advice I can give. Maintain your concentration and stay focused on your dog, but try to enjoy the experience. Play with your pet, chase them, whatever you like.

That's all, folks; I sincerely hope you've managed to take something away from this article. If you are going to follow these steps, remember to remain vigilant and try and have a good time. Good luck!

Stethoscope.

Comments 39 comments

jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 8 years ago from Scotland

Nice hub Stethoscope and well put together, welcome to hubpages, your first hubpages fan.....jimmy


funride profile image

funride 8 years ago from Portugal

No doubts this is a great first hub. I´ll share this with a friend who never achieved to pass the "walk his dog on the leash" step even though he tried many things with no success. Welcome to hubpages Stethoscope ;)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

Godd, practical advise with a great picture of a friend in glasses. Hub on!


Ryan Hupfer profile image

Ryan Hupfer 8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

Great first Hub! Keep up the awesome work :)


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 8 years ago from California

Nice opening salvo, dude. Welcome and keep em coming.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

Good hub-- especially for people with patience.

My new dog was already a year old and had been through a lot, including a shelter and foster care before we got her-- I feel I am doing really well to get her to walk pretty well on a leash. (We have deer, squirrels, jackrabits as well as other dogs.) She has improved greatly in the past four months.

Good luck on helping to fund your medical education-- If you do it here it will probably be a first. However, I'm sure you will find lots of interesting things here. Hope to hear a lot more from you.


Stethoscope profile image

Stethoscope 8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland Author

Thanks for the kind comments, guys! I appreciate the feedback!


Veronica Bright profile image

Veronica Bright 8 years ago from Nebraska

Very nice for a first hub...or ANY hub for that matter! Good Job!


starcatchinfo profile image

starcatchinfo 8 years ago

NICE EDUCATION ABOUT DOGS


Die'Dre' profile image

Die'Dre' 8 years ago from The Great Pacific Northwest

Welcome to HubPages. Love the dog pix. Lots of good tiips.


Megan 7 years ago

I like this information. It helps me with training my dog to walk with me when he is off the leash. This is helpful.


Alec 7 years ago

Its not actually to helpful unfortuantly, i have been training my dog, Missie, to walk off her lead allong side me, athough she is 6.

the problems with this are: if she does decide to bolt off a retractable lead wont do much (serosily she is strong)

and its more commands like "come on" "come here" and "stay" (and pointing so she knows where she should be going - if she falls behind)

we did this by using treats (little ones that are fairly sweet) so when we said "leave it" and she did, she got a treat. this worked for me - but again thanks for writing this

btw my dog is an american Bulldog - lovly white stuborn cow :)

sorry about my spelling i am dislexic

Alec (alec0493 (at) btinternet <dot> com


How to Leash Train a Dog 7 years ago

Thanks for a great article on leash training a dog. One thing I would just like to warn everyone about is the retractable leash. There has been some reported injuries when using these leashes with dogs that pull on them. One girl suffered some serious injuries when the leash snapped and the metal end hit her in the head... becareful.


felix 7 years ago

why would u encourage walking a dog without a leash? that's just stupid! and how can u enjoy a walk constantly worried if the dog will escape, wander off or get hit by a car, dogs are animals they cant be fully trusted, putting a leash on a dog takes less than a second, and could save its life. I am after taking dogs to a dog park and letting them go there, much safer. Plus letting dogs off leash is illegal except in your own property or designated area, if something happens you could be charged a huge fine or worse your dog could be taken away from you. Stay safe!


george! 6 years ago

to encourage ur dog to walk of the leash is a very good thing, eventually you will be able to not worry about your dog when it is of its leash once it has learnt! if you teach a dog to walk of a leash you can make it understand the dangers of trafic by making it stop at the side of a road and comanding it to cross when it is safe to do so as we have with our dog!if we had not done this then if the leash was to break by accident or the dog escaped it would be an issue as the dog would not no the road was a danger! and as it isn't illegal in most places it isn't a problem! seeing dogs save people and protect people i have full confidence in well trained dogs


dogowner 6 years ago

Thanks this page has been very helpful in my puppys training!


Maggyann 5 years ago

Thanks for your hub but (always a but!) here in the UK childrens play areas are off limits to dogs because of the poo issue as much as anything else so in the UK don't take your dog to a childrens play area and the long lease thing is becoming an issue here too as old people have been tripped up by them, dogs have gotten entangled with other dogs etc. They are fine if you are in an isolated area but are not really practical and as already mentioned by someone else you do not have total control over the dog with one of these leads.

Personally I don't care how well trained a dog is it should never be off leash near traffic.


bb 5 years ago

thanks for the advise it has really worked for me and my puppy


katie 5 years ago

i dont no how to walk my tho dogs of a lead


DOGS 101 profile image

DOGS 101 5 years ago from Planet Earth

I just recommended this article to a fellow hubber who wants to train his dog to walk without a lease. I recommended this article because I think he could use the valuable information you have shared.


Johnny Parker profile image

Johnny Parker 5 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

Thanks for the recommendation 101 - will take the dog to a disused tennis court today and do some exercises with him


Morgan 5 years ago

@Felix I wouldn't walk my dog in public busy places off of the leash, as it's illegal here, but when I take my dog to the spit, she needs to be able to walk off of the leash, there are many dogs there that can chase after sticks, balls and other dogs, it's sad to see your dog wanting to participate but can't because their on leashes, plus decline is always good for a dog.

I have a 7 year old Dalmatian, however she looks and behaves like a 3 year old, she's easily excitable and overly friendly, I'm going to start doing this but with treats as Dalmatians and most dogs are completely food orientated.


... 5 years ago

tried this befor but my dog ran away


Victoria orlandi 5 years ago

Hi my dog bites the leash what do I do


jeremytorres profile image

jeremytorres 5 years ago

Nice pics and great article.


doglover 4 years ago

Plz answer... Can you use a rope instead of a retractable leash?


pesky 4 years ago

Retractable leash is terrible tool. I have a bully mix and have never used a leash to establish off leash walking habits. On leash is to introduce obedience. If your dog obeys you and respects you.. He can do off leash much quicker. A Retractable leash doesn't allow for any communication between you and your dog on a personal level.. Also try that leash with a dog over 60lbs. They'll snap the line. Not a good suggestion in my opinion.


erica 4 years ago

The thing is, people who want to walk their dog off leash will prob try to do so anyway, so might as well give some useful information on how to do it the right way instead of leaving them in the dark which will probably prove more dangerous. And even if you feel safer keeping your dog on a leash, it can't be a bad idea to teach them how to heel while off it, just in case.


Bill 4 years ago

Walking your dog off leash is a great idea if you're in your own yard or in enclosed PRIVATE area. Otherwise KEEP THE DOG ON A LEASH!! Unless you want to wind up paying medical bills for other dogs or worse, children or other people, you're a fool for doing this. We met 2 dogs off leash in a public park. 3 days in an animal hospital with internal bleeding and $2200. in emergency medical bills later, the owner is rethinking his decision to walk them "off leash" less serious altercations have also happened in the neighborhood with confident dog owners who could "control" their dogs, until the dog decided not to listen to the owner. Don't be a fool and endanger others! You may end up paying a lot more for it than you think. As much as you think you can control your dog off leash, you CANNOT.


unknown 4 years ago

can u do this without treats???


Stokie52 4 years ago

My dog for some reason has a total dislike for other dogs at times and always on a retractable lead or a normal starts vigerously pulling on the lead to get closer to the other dog. I have also tried training my dog (caine) to walk off his lead in the past but if he sees a cat or a dog or something he doesn't like then he will bolt after it completely ignoring my commands, any advice on how to stop him doing this?


Romi fione 4 years ago

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Romi fione 4 years ago

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cal 98 4 years ago

thanks for the advice it was good help :)


neamra876 4 years ago

This advice is good but I'm not sure if i would be able to carry it out because my dog is a crazy hyperactive german shorthaired pointer who isn't the best behaved. Thanks for the great advice it is actually working.


sweetdream 4 years ago

This wasn't that helpful because I pretty much have already thought of this information but one neat detail was the leash


bob 4 years ago

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eveln 3 years ago

oook


Greta 3 years ago

I am at a point with my dog where she will walk off the lead fine, until she sees another dog, and sometimes another person. Other dogs particularly, she seems to lose all control of her senses... Other than that, she is awesome. But, this article has reminded me to have patience and persistence, and that it can take some time to build the trust needed. Thanks for that!

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