Having the ability to allow your dog the freedom to be off the lead and to exercise freely has to be one of the absolute joys of owning a dog.
To see them running free and totally for fun has always been one of the greatest feelings for me as an owner.
To see your dog actually being a dog and doing the things that make it the happiest is one sure-fire way that you are building that great bonding relationship.
As a Greyhound owner, it has been especially fulfilling seeing my dogs run for fun and not for someone else’s profit.
How To Keep Your Dog From Running Away
That said, as an owner, it is easy to let your dogs run free. It’s the getting them back that can be the hard part.
We all know someone who has had a dog run off and it has happened to me several times with different dogs over the years.
It’s truly a very frightening time too for us owners as once our faithful hound is untethered, they are on their own and can get into all kinds of scrapes, mishaps, and dangers.
We as owners have a duty to keep our dogs under our control at all times so if you have any doubt about letting your dog off the lead, then you need to read on.
As we have established so far through the articles on here, we have to have a relationship with our dog that makes them see us as the pack leader.
If for any reason our dog still doesn’t do this, then letting them off the lead is a massive No No!
Simply put, if our dog still has issues with where they are within the pack, your home, etc, then their behavior off the lead can not be assured.
They will act as they feel fit to do, not the way we want them too.
We want them to run free and then come back to us, don’t we? Of course, we do.
The thought of this not happening is a major cause for concern.
That is why we may have to go back to basics before we can safely allow our dog off the lead.
This takes time and patience and lots of practice.
And it starts in the home.
Take a look at Teaching Dog Recall-Some Easy Tips and follow those steps before moving on to getting our dog to walk on the lead and when you have those two disciplines boxed off, you can progress to this one.
That said, assuming we have done this and we are happy with the outcome, we still have a long way to go.
Finding that outside space can be a challenge but we need space to make this work and sometimes depending where you live, you can find designated dog exercise areas and in Cornwall where I live, there is a really neat place near Newquay where you can book a large enclosed field or paddock for around £5 an hour and your dog can have a great time exercising and these sort of places can be exactly the sort of safest ways to continue your training with your dog.
Dogs are always much easier to train when they have been exercised. They are usually empty, happy and tired and this is when they are at their most complicit.
I am always an advocate for safe training. It has to be your priority too as at this stage, even if your dog is coming back to you in the home or your garden, we are not sure if they will when out in the big wide world in an alien environment with other sounds, smells, and distractions.
The absolute two best pieces of equipment we need to achieve our goal here is food and a very long leash.
Treat or reward training is a positive way to reinforce good behavior from our dog. They love to please us and getting a treat or tidbit is vital to let them know that they did well.
I always treat my dog for pretty much anything they do that is good. It’s a way of saying thank you to them. The treats are small, but they mean a lot to him and as a result, he is a lot calmer and happier and he knows, I am the Alpha.
The long leash has to be around 20 to 30 feet in length and can be connected to your dog’s collar so that you are retaining controls. Like this one here, they are relatively cheap to buy.
In simple terms, you allow your dog to get around 5 to 10 feet from you by loosening your leash( slacking) and then call them back to you. When they come back, give them a tidbit and praise them.
And repeat. Do this for another 6 to 10 times. Each time you do, reward and praise. The tidbit doesn’t have to be very big here, we don’t want to overstuff our dog so use your common sense.
Once we are confident the 5 to 10-foot distance works, we can move on to the 15 to 20 feet distance.
Again, we do exactly the same. Allow our dog to get that far away and then use recall and treats, in exactly the same way.
We then move onto 20 to 30 feet in distance and repeat the process again.
I would do this entire program several times over the course a couple of weeks before I would advise the step of actually allowing our dogs off completely.
I have done this approach with my Greyhounds and it has always worked, but I have done it exactly as stated here for 2 weeks before I progressed to the final step and even now, I am wary of other dogs and distractions being around.
All dogs are different and you will find your way with different breeds, but seeing as Greyhounds are the fastest of dogs and if they run off you have zero chance of catching them, I feel this approach has been the safest for me and will undoubtedly help you too.
Building the distance and trust at a pace that suits both of you is very important and helps you bond with your dog too.
All dogs are different in their mindsets too. You want your dog to be able to make positive choices for themselves too and reward-based training is not a con for them.
It is a way of positively reinforcing a good and required behavior for our dogs and as long as they are not in any way put into any form of harm or pain by doing this, then that can only ever be a good thing.
You know by now from reading my articles that I in no way condone ANY kind of pain-related training.
It simply does not work and I don’t care what some “experts” say, in 99.99% cases of domestic dog training for ordinary people and dogs, reward training and positive reinforcement is the ONLY way to go.
In time if you do this safe approach, you will find that your dog will always come back to you.
I have a great and simple cheap recipe for dog treats and it might sound a bit grim, but bear with me!
I buy Pigs liver from my local butcher. Any liver will do. It is very cheap and extremely good for a dog.
I take it home and blitz it in my blender and then pour it out onto a plate and it looks like a giant red frisbee!
I then pop it in the microwave for around 3 or 4 minutes and it cooks it and it comes out looking like a giant flat hamburger!
Let it cool and then break it up into tin bits and hey presto, you have a really great and nutritious training aid!