Starting Off Leash Training

Seven to 12 weeks of age is the perfect time to start your off-leash training. In fact, it is almost the only time. This time is so critical because during these weeks most puppies will instinctively stay close to their owners. After 12 weeks, dogs become more independent and more likely to stray.

Dogs not given the experience of off-leash freedom at this age will be much more difficult to train to obey when off leash later. By starting now, you can avoid the vicious cycle caused by lack of off-leash exercise. Dogs caught in this cycle build up energy and frustration, so they run away when they are finally off leash; this in turn makes it less likely that their owners will give them off-leash freedom, and the dog's frustration gets even worse.

It is best to never develop a dependence on the leash for control in the first place. While you should accustom your puppy to walking on leash, try to give him as much off-leash freedom as possible. If it isn't safe to allow your puppy to run free in your yard, take your puppy someplace where he can safely be off leash during this time period. Even if you have a fenced yard where your puppy can be off leash, you should still take him to someplace different, so you both get the feeling of off-leash freedom. Do this even if it means driving a distance. An advantage of going someplace different is that your puppy will naturally be more insecure and pay more attention to where you are. Just put your puppy down and start walking. Do not constantly call to him; you want to establish in him the habit of keeping track of where you are without your having to call him all the time. Several times during each walk, call your puppy to you, give him a treat, and turn him loose with an "okay" to run some more. Always carry treats with you when your puppy is being exercised off leash, so you can reward him for coming.

These off-leash walks will have a special effect on your relationship with your dog. They strengthen your emotional ties in a magical way. It is almost as if you are re-creating the times when wild canines struck off on the hunt together. In any case, there are few activities a dog enjoys more than a

Taking your young puppy for walks off leash is wonderful for getting your relationship off to a good start. (Basset Hound)

chance to be free to run and explore. Even if off-leash control is not important to you, I recommend these walks for the bond they create between you and your dog.

Once you've gotten your off-leash training off to a good start, continue teaching your puppy to come when called as described in chapters 5 and 6.

Dog Owners Handbook

Dog Owners Handbook

There are over a hundred registered breeds of dogs. Recognizing the type of the dog is basically associated with its breed. A purebred animal belongs to a documented and acknowledged group of unmixed lineage. Before a breed of dog is recognized, it must be proven that mating two adult dogs of the sametype would have passed on their exact characteristics, both appearance and behavior, to their offspring.

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