8 Tips To Hike Off-Leash With Your Dog
(And Not Have People Hate You)
Perhaps you have thought about walking with your dog off-leash, but scared to because your dog isn’t well behaved in public. In that case, all you need to do is to train your dog how to be obedient to you and listen to your commands at all time.
However, for you to successfully train your dog to be obedient, you must be consistent and learn how to be patient yourself.
You will have to spend a lot of relationship and training time with your dog before it can become a well-behaved dog in public without a leash. This, however, does not guarantee you as a dog walker won’t find the task of dog walking your dog off-leash quite challenging.
Here are some tips to help every dog walker cope or avoid challenges they may encounter while dog walking their dogs off-leash:
- Don’t walk your dog off-leash in restricted areas.
Before taking your dog for an off-leash dog walking exercise, you need to have prior knowledge of trails and parks where on-leash or off-leash dog walking is restricted. Failure to have prior knowledge of trails could see you parting with some bills as fine for dog walking in restricted areas. So, as a good dog walker, it is expected of you to do a thorough research and map study of the trails and parks you wish to take your dog out for an off-leash dog walking exercise or experience. A good understanding of the map will also help you in keeping your dog from harm’s way since you will be able to detect and avoid areas reserved for hunting in some walking locations.
- Offer a big reward for good off-leash behaviour
You must develop a habit of rewarding your dog with a nice treat for all the good off-leash behaviour exhibited. This will definitely help in influencing your dog’s decision in listening to your command or call in emergency situations. Let’s say, for instance, your dog which is ahead of you along a trail during an off-leash dog walking exercise, suddenly sees another oncoming dog and prepares to engage in a dog fight. If you call out to your dog to back off and come back to you, you will observe it will be relatively easy for your dog to obey your command. This is entirely because it finds the reward of a nice treat a far better experience than engaging in a dog fight. Now, that would not have been possible if you haven’t already established the habit of rewarding every good off-leash behavior exhibited by the dog.
- Keep an eye on your dog.
This is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. However, for the purpose of clarification, it simply means you should barely take your eyes off your dog during an off-leash dog walking exercise. Be watchful of your dog at all times. In other words, you will always want your dog not to stray too far from you. This way you call out to it when it begins to wander off the path.
- Acknowledge the limits of your dog
No matter how brave, smart or intelligent your dog is, you should always remember there is a limit to things your dog can do and experiences it can cope with. This can jeopardize the safety of the off-leash walking experience. For instance, your dog may find it difficult resisting the urge of chasing a prey- say squirrel, and by engaging in such chase, your dog could unknowingly run into an oncoming vehicle, a snake, etc., putting the life of your dog at serious risk. By acknowledging the limits of your dog, you will be able to know things that can stimulate it into action, and consequently being able to predict where and when your dog might have to cope with a challenge. It is also possible your dog is scared of sudden sound such as those of gunshots, thunder, etc. I advise you have your dog’s leash on it in anticipation of any of such sounds to prevent your dog from running blindly.
- Carry your dog leash along during an off-leash walk with your dog
There is every possibility of an emergency situation occurring while on an off-leash dog walking exercise with your dog. To this end, it is advisable you carry along with your dog’s leash, whether or not you are on an off-leash dog walking exercise with the dog. So, whenever you come up to an area that you don’t think is safe for your dog or is too crowded, all you simply have to do is take control of the dog’s movement by having its leash on.
- Your dog’s daily activities should include off-leash training
There are no better ways to have your dog become a well-behaved dog in public without a leash than making sure off-leash training is made part of its daily activities. It is during these off-leash training sessions that your dog gets to learn how to respond or obey your every command in public. And as have been mentioned earlier, rewarding every good behavior of the dog with a great treat or snacks is a key way of achieving this purpose or goal.
- Establish a reliable recall
Unless you have established a dependable way of calling your dog, then it is as good as useless going on an off-leash dog walking exercise with the dog. So, before you think of any off-leash adventure with your dog, it is paramount the dog comes to you submissively whenever you call it even in the midst of diversions. Things that could divert your dog’s attention include- sent, sound, other dogs, etc. It is also important you train your dog on obeying the sit back command, this is useful in a situation where you require your dog to sit aside a trail so people or other dogs could pass.
- Practice the recall
Having established the recall to use for your dog – for example, sit back, come, back off, etc., the next step will be to practice the recall in a secured area before venturing for an off-leash dog walking exercise with your dog on public trails. This can be achieved by throwing off an object, say a toy, not too far away from you and send the to go fetch it. And once the dog is halfway to where the toy, you can call it back using one of the recall commands – say come back, upon obeying the command and returning to you, you should reward the behavior with a nice treat to reinforce the behavior.