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Off leash exercise for your pooch

Freedom to roam and sniff around is every dog’s birthright and dream. Very often, we as owners, ignore the importance of freedom of our canine friends. Pooja Sathe shows how to teach your dog the off leash control. Off leash exercise should be an important part of the dog’s daily routine from an early age. This will help the puppy to enjoy his freedom. Also, off leash game of ‘fetching a ball’ and a good run helps to mentally and physically stimulate the pup, which is a must for every dog.

Some people are apprehensive about keeping their pets off leash. Some of their common excuses are:

Dog will run away: People often complain that since their dogs get attracted to other dogs, people walking by, or cats, besides moving objects such as vehicles or balls, they are likely to run after them and get into problems. This mainly happens because the dog is never given a chance to explore his surroundings off leash and is not trained not to chase things or moving objects. Chase behaviour: Most people complain that once off leash, their dogs chase cats, kids and other moving objects. Chasing instinct is an inborn trait in most of the dogs and is high in some. You should identify the objects your dog likes to chase and then train him not to chase them accordingly.

Dog will jump on other people: If the dog is generally friendly, he might want to go towards people and due to excitement, he might even jump over them. This happens due to lack of socialisation during his puppyhood.

Dog will never return when called: Some people are not confident that their dog will return to them, when called once off leash. This happens because initially when the dog does come back, most of us try to catch him by his neck/collar and put him back on the leash. This teaches the dog that if he goes back, he will be put on the leash and taken back home, and so he keeps staying away. But, off leash control can be taught to your dog. Here are the steps to teach the dog off leash control:

  • Start training the dog for off leash control at an early age. You can start this game in your building compound, or terrace or any other safe place, before letting your dog off leash in a big ground or on the beach.
  • In the beginning, attach a long leash (approx 10/12 feet) to the dog, and let him drag it with him.
  • Do not hold on to the leash all the time but keep a timely check on the dog. You can always get hold of the leash in case of emergency.
  • Always carry some tasty treats or the dog’s favourite toys to praise him when he comes back. In beginning, you should praise your dog for every successful recall.
  • Your body language and tone of voice should always be happy and encouraging, when calling the dog back.
  • Never try to grab your dog’s collar when he comes back, just because you feel that he will run away again.
  • Always leave your dog off leash in a safe place and not on the roads or while crossing the roads etc. Always keep an eye on the dog, when he is off leash.
  • In case the dog does not come back, do not run behind him or scold him when you catch him. This will only make the dog run away again. On such occasion, you can run in the opposite direction showing him the treats and toys in your hand so as to get his attention.
  • You have to make yourself the most interesting thing for your dog, only this will make the dog come back to you.
  • Train your dog in different possible places before trusting him completely to go off leash. In a new place, you can always keep him on long leash initially.
  • Last but very important, always walk your dog on leash in a particular area, and allow him to sniff around to his satisfaction, before you let him off leash.

(Pooja Sathe is trained under Northern Centre for Canine Behaviour and Training, UK. She can be contacted at poojasathe11@hotmail.com, Ph: +91-9820596903, 022-24165358 – Mumbai.)