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Off-Leash Dog Training 101

A brown dog walking through a stream in a green forest.
Amber LaRock Author of Off-Leash Dog Training 101

A well-trained canine should be able to respond to their owner even when they are off-leash. Off-leash dog training can be lifesaving for a pup in many situations, so it’s an important skill to tackle in your training process. 

In this article, we’ll dive into what off-leash dog training is and how you can offer your dog the skills they need to succeed! 

Off-Leash Dog Training

Off-leash dog training is all about training your pup to follow your commands whether they are on or off the leash. A pup that is off-leash trained is reliable and consistent in a variety of settings and gives you a dog that you can trust. Off-leash training not only benefits the owner but also the dog! A pup that will come when called and follow orders in any setting is always safer than an untrained canine. 

Off-leash dog training consists of teaching your dog how to respond to all verbal commands that you would like them to know, sometimes without any reward. Since your pup will have to learn how to respond solely to verbal commands and not just a treat that is dangled in front of them, you will need to be dedicated to the process!

Tools & Requirements For Verbal Recall

Now that you are beginning your off-leash training journey, you will need to invest in a few staple tools to help your pup become off-leash trained. The tools and requirements you’ll need include:

  • A clicker
  • Harness
  • Longline
  • Reward treats
  • Time and patience
  • Low stimulation area to allow your dog to concentrate
  • Extra time set aside each day to practice
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped before you start your off-leash training, just in case they runoff. This way you will have a better chance of finding your furry friend.

Once you are able to provide each of the tools above, you are ready to begin the verbal recall process with your canine companion.

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Recall Training Process

Once you begin the recall training process with your pup, you will implement some of the same practices that you used before to help your dog master basic obedience. In order to help you achieve a well-trained canine that is reliable in any setting, let’s dive into the steps of the recall training process.

  • First, practice attaching your dog to a long lead in the ground in your hard or any other controlled area. Practice your basic commands at different distances, making sure they respond no matter how far apart you are. By doing this, you can help your dog truly learn your verbal commands with the illusion of being off-leash. Once they have mastered their basic commands, practice teaching them to come when called. Practice this at different distances until they respond at the furthest distance.
  • Continue to practice each of these commands at a distance, making sure you never chase your pup. No matter what, make sure they always come to you in order to abide by the command you asked of them, and to retrieve their treat. This will help your dog understand that in order to be rewarded, they must come to your side at any point you order a command.
  • Next, make sure that you reward each successful trick or command with a treat and a clicker sound. This will help your dog understand the positive behavior and continue to comply in the future. Having a clicker and a bag of treats will help you gain your pup’s attention in any setting in the time to come! By using the clicker throughout their training, they will recognize the sound when they are out in public in the future.
  • Once you feel that your dog has mastered each command from any distance on their long lead, try to throw in some distractions. You can do this by inviting others over into your yard, taking your dog to the park, or any other tactic that can help your dog learn how to focus through distractions. As long as you follow the same steps in these settings, your pup will learn how to tune out the chaos and focus on your command.
  • During your training, do not allow your dog to run over to every human or dog that they see. This will teach them that they must look to you before they act, and will help prevent your pup from running off in the future.

Implementing Their Off-Leash Training

Now that your dog has mastered their recall training, it’s time to put their hard work to the test! As long as you have your clicker, their favorite treats, and a leash for backup, your dog is ready to explore their surroundings with the freedom of being off-leash. 

Make sure to always stay close by during your dog’s off-leash play sessions, and you will be able to enjoy your time with your well-trained canine. A dog that is trained off-leash can safely enjoy trips to the dog park, adventurous hikes, walks through the park, and more. The sky's the limit with a well trained canine companion!

Off-leash dog training is an incredible way to bond with your dog while giving them the tools they need to stay safe. Make sure to implement the steps we listed above, and you will be on your way to having the trustworthy canine of your dreams!

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Amber LaRock

Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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