Making sure you and your dog understand each other is the first step on your journey to walking without a leash. This means that your dog can understand your cues and respond every time. The simple things like:
These are important to ensure your dog will follow your instructions. These cues need to be mastered without consistent rewards.
While recall should also technically sit under the heading of obedience, its important is paramount when it comes to walking off leash.
Recall refers to your dogs ability to respond to you and come to you directly when they’re called. This can be the ‘Come’ or ‘here’ cue or any similar word you’ve trained them to recognise. The objective is for them to come every time no matter what distraction they have around them. Because different things distract different dogs, its important you’ve both mastered this before you go to a non enclosed space to try it out.
Not pulling on the lead
Another milestone particularly for larger dogs is making sure they’re trained not to pull on the lead. The lead should remain loose as your dog walks by your side. Achieve this and you’re on step closer to loose leash walking.
Long Lead walking
Lastly, you need to train your dog to walk on a long lead without it pulling tight. i.e. your dog should stay by your side the entire time no matter what distractions are about. This needs to be mastered in all different areas, terrains, with different distractions. Try it where there are lots of birds, lots of dogs, children, people, food and so on. If you are confident they can walk by your side following your cue with a long lead and have done so for an extended period of time, its time to give it a try without the lead in an enclosed space.
No one will know your dog like you do so its important you can trust your dog to listen to your cues before loose lease walking without enclosures.
The more you practice the faster you’re likely to get there so happy training!