How Can I Train My Dog to Go Off Leash?

In addition, if your dog is still intact, neutering can make a dramatic difference. Roaming behavior is decreased in 90 percent of male dogs that are altered.

However, the bottom line is this: Training is imperative for keeping dogs close while off leash. Exercising your dog before you train will make him more likely to relax during training sessions, and teaching him some basic behaviors will make him less likely to bolt once he's off his leash.

Training Is Key

To teach your dog heel, stay, and come when called, start in a low-distraction environment with your pet safely secured. As your dog reliably responds to these commands, you can move to areas with more distractions, such as people and other dogs. Keep your dog secured on a long line; eventually, you can graduate to a drag line, which is a slick rope attached to a harness. A drag line won’t catch on things as readily as a normal leash will, which gives your dog more freedom without turning him completely loose.

Alternatively, look for larger fenced areas for your training sessions, such as the dog park or dog beach in the early morning when few people or pets are likely to be around. Once your dog proves reliable at responding to the heel, stay and come when called commands on a long line or in a large fenced area, you can think about letting him off leash.

If your dog consistently runs away when chasing something, his predatory behavior needs to be addressed and managed. The greatest safeguard to protect your predatory pet and anyone or anything he might chase is the use of a barrier such as a leash. There are some dogs who will just never be reliable off-leash dogs; these dogs can learn to be completely content on leash when given enough exercise and stimulation and can be given the off-leash experience in safe areas, such as a fenced yard or at the dog park.

There's always a risk to having your dog off leash in a public place. An off-leash dog can dart into a busy street while chasing a squirrel or end up in a fight because he approached a dog that was appropriately leashed and caused that dog to feel threatened. Train your dog carefully, and be thoughtful about when and where you let him off leash.


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!