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How do I train my dog to be able to walk off leash at all…

how do I train my...
how do I train my dog to be able to walk off leash at all times? and do you have any tips to teach my stubborn puggle tricks?
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Answered in 1 hour by:
3/13/2018
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20,439
Experience: Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
Verified

Hi JaCustomer,

Welcome to Just Answer. My name is Jane. I have been involved professionally with dogs in the healthcare and behavioral fields for over 20 years. I’ve worked as a Vet Assistant and Behaviorist and have extensive experience in dog reproduction, as a breeder, for even longer than that.. Canine behavioral issues and training are also my specialties. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

The only way you can be sure you can walk your dog off leash at any time. is to have absolute control over him. You achieve that with obedience training to ensure he listens the first time every time. Of course, a good strong recall/com command is definitely needed. Let me give you the secret to a good recall/come command.

Many dogs don't come when called because they have learned that the only time they are called is when fun time is over. People call their dogs to them to make them come inside or to stop chasing prey (cats) or to be put on leash (end of free running time) or even crated. The only association they have with the come command is negative.

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Additionally, dogs find chase to be a highly amusing game and have learned that if they get close to a human, the human might chase them. They love a good game. So what you need to do is make coming to you more pleasurable.

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The easiest way is to reward your dog with small tiny treats and praise whenever your dog comes to you when you give the command. Do this even when the dog wants to come to you. After a few treats, the dog will associate coming to you with getting treats and praise. Outside, you will want to use a long lead. Do not drag your dog to you, but say the command and if the dog doesn't come, give the leash a short tug. Start with short distances and gradually extend the distance as your dog becomes more familiar with the command. Over time, you will reduce the treats and increase the praise until praise is the only reward. Another thing to remember is to never call a dog to you to discipline it, go to the dog. During training I don't call a dog to me unless it is going to be pleasant for the dog. I usually don't have much of a problem since the dogs quickly learn that I have thinly sliced hot dog treats just waiting for them to obey me.

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I alway recommend starting inside since most dogs are more than willing to come when inside. You can even have a helper and both call the dog to them in turn rewarding the dog for coming to you. Remember that you start in a relatively distraction free area and then add distractions as time goes by.

Another thing that is important is to teach him where he should be walking which is right next to you. Let me give you my brochure on leash training. It will help you teach your dog to walk at your side on a leash. Once you have him obedience trained completely and take him off leash, he should still walk at your side.

Leash Training ©
Dogs can be so stubborn. Don't feel bad most will pull and misbehave on the leash if given the chance. If your dog is pulling while walking then a little retraining is in order. It's a matter of getting your dog to want to come with you regardless of the leash being attached. You will get multiple answers depending on whom you talk to as opinions differ on the best method to solve this problem. Some experts will suggest a Halti (head collar) which you can try. I personally believe in establishing control over the dog with training. I use a chain collar for training purposes. For strong stubborn dogs, some trainers recommend a prong collar. They now make a harness with a chest leash clip. This can be effective for dogs pulling as it redirects them back toward the owner.

Number one, put your dog on a leash before leaving the house. Make your dog sit or lie down before leaving. You walk out first and the dog should follow you out. With a proper walk, the dog should be right at your side or slightly behind. You dog should be paying attention to you, frequently glancing at you to be sure you haven't changed your mind about where you are going. I will be using the word correction. A correction will indicate a short quick tug and release of the leash. It is meant to remind the dog that he is supposed to be paying attention to you. Initially, keep training sessions short and where there will be minimal distractions even if it is just in your yard. A walk should be fast paced and not a stop and start exercise. The dog should not be investigating, sniffing or socializing on the walk. Walk to a destination and allow the dog some time at the destination to do those things.

I use a food and praise reward system. I use almost paper think pieces of hot dog as the oil from them coats your hand and keeps the smell on your hand. Let the dog smell the treat in your closed hand. This gives your dog motivation to be by your side. He should be happy to follow your hand around the yard. Keep your leash short, but without pressure on it. If the dog starts moving away, a correction toward you should be made. Give him a treat every once in a while initially so he understands walking by your side get him treats. Try to time it so it is before he gets distracted. If he starts to glance elsewhere, give a correction and tempt him with sight of the treat. When he is back to paying attention, reward him with the treat in a low calm "good boy". No excitement to your voice as you want him calm. Repeat when you think his attention is shifting. As he gets better at paying attention to you and your "smelly hand", make corrections giving more praise and less treats. Before you know it, your dog will be walking right next to you all the time, with or without treats. When you stop, praise your dog with your voice or a few pats to let your dog know how good he has done. You can train him to sit or lay down when you stop if you want as well. This helps prevent his trying to run off if you stop to talk to someone.

Once your dog is pretty much always walking at your side, you will want to make a correction any time he stops paying attention to you. For instance, they are looking at a cat in a yard, give a correction so they look at you. if he is busy looking ahead and hasn't glanced at you for awhile, give a correction and reverse your direction. Do not stop and wait for the dog, just a quick correction and reverse and walk. They learn to keep an eye on you as well as on what else is going on. Try an be confident during these training sessions. Try not to look down at your dog but more out of the corner of your eye. Act like you are paying attention to the scenery. It sounds strange, but it does work.

Once your dog is doing well in the yard, try adding a few distractions such as family in the yard, then progress to another dog around continuing to correct if he even looks like he is going to glance at the other dog. If you wait till he is already distracted, it is too late. You have to catch him before he focuses on the other animal or person. It is a lot of work and takes lots of practice but it does work.

End of brochure.

Now to the obedience training. Classes are good and should be done but you should start at home first. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html

Once he is completely trained and listens to commands all the time, you should be able to let him off leash. Most places that have leash laws do have clauses that exclude a dog that is under his owners complete control despite any and all distractions.

I sincerely ***** ***** I have helped you. Please remember to rate my service by selecting the 5 stars at the top of the screen ( rating me now does not close your question). We can continue here until you are satisfied, simply use the reply box and let me know. Thank you!

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Hi! Wow! Amazing answer, thank you! So my dog is still a puppy and I started walking him without his leash when he would follow me around still, so it’s not like he runs away or anything but these tips definitely help in case he sees a squirrel or something! Now, another behavior related question: he is a little under 6 months old and sometimes he still has accidents in the house. We never scold him when we find the poo or pee after the fact, only if we catch him doing it. Is there any way to get him house trained more accurately?
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Another question I have (because you seem very knowledgeable); murphy has severe separation anxiety and will howl and bark the entire we’re gone. Most of the time, his crate will have puke in it too. We’ve tried not paying much attention to him when we do come home, we’ve given him a frozen peanut butter Kong, chewy toys that taste of bacon, lavender essential oil rubbed on his fur and relaxing dog music playlists but he does not seem to relax and stop barking. I am worried because the excessive vomiting can’t be good for his health and I do not know what to do to make him being alone more bearable.

For the house training issue, you need a good way for him to let you know he needs to go out. Put a bell or other noise maker on the door low enough for the dog to reach. Each time you take the dog out, ring the bell. The dog will associate ringing the bell with going out and one day ring the bell to signal to you that he needs to go out. This way if he needs to eliminate and it isn't a regular time that you take him out, he has a clear signal he can use to let you know.

The separation anxiety question is a bit harder. You are doing a lot of things that are recommended but there is more you can do. One thing often recommended is to take your dog for a nice long walk before you leave, preferably 30 minutes or long. Make it a long, quick paced walk to tire your boy out.

Second is to use a low-key approach to leaving the house. Ignore your dog before you leave and after you come home for at least 5 minutes or more. If your house is like mine in the morning everyone is running around getting ready to leave. This has the dog in an excited mood and then suddenly he is alone. If this is the case, put him away from everyone, say in a bathroom until the frenzy is over.

Don't punish or shout at your dog when you come home and find he’s barked the whole time. When you do, you increase his stress level rather than reduce it. Youare providing him with small stimulating toys or toys that you can fill with treats. You might try freezing yogurt in the kong instead. If the mouth is busy he won't be barking.

Sometimes leaving a TV or radio on can help a dog with this problem as well. Also remember to not reward a dog's excitement to you with petting and affection or even eye contact. You want to show him nice calm praise when he is being calm. The best way is to crate him. This prevents injury to the apartment and protects him as well. Another thing that might help is a DAP collar. These use a pheromone to calm a dog. See one here:

vetmedicine.about.com/od/behaviortraining/gr/DAP-Dog-Collar.htm

Practice putting him in the crate, leaving the house, opening the door immediately and rewarding him with a hot dog treat if he did not scratch, bite and carry one. This teaches him that you leave but come back quickly. Once he seems to not do anything when you initially leave, lengthen the time he must be quiet for you to come back in. Change the time as well. Make it 2 minutes one time and 10 minutes another, so he never knows if you are gone for an hour or gone for 2 minutes. It helps him stay calm for longer periods of time, just be sure you reward him when he is good.

Another thing that helps is to do things that might make the dog feel you are leaving and then don't such as putting on your coat or picking up your keys. Or leave without doing those things. This helps remove things that might trigger the dog to become anxious.

These should help his separation anxiety and boredom and help curb his barking. It will not be an overnight cure and will take work on your and your family’s part to be consistent in your interaction with him. Here is a site that also offers idea to combat separation anxiety.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/overcoming-separation-anxiety.aspx

There are many other methods available such as citronella spray collar, or shock bark collars that will stop excessive barking. If you opt for a shock type, be sure to let it shock you first so you understand how low the intensity of the shock is and it is the unexpectedness of the shock that stops the barking.

Another option is medication, which is discussed on this site:

http://www.fidosavvy.com/dog-separation-anxiety-medication.html

Sometimes medication is helpful at the beginning of training but eventually a dog has to come off the medication and learn without it.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Hi! So you are insanely helpful Jane! God bless you! We got a camera that allows us to see him when we’re gone. The camera has a built in speaker so we can record our voice on our phone and speak to him in real-time. Would you advise against speaking to him through the camera when we’re not home? And for his crate, would you advise we cover it? Currently we take his soft bed out and put peepads inside because he does vomit. Do you order the D.A.P collar or the little mist sprayer from adaptil? Currently we play dog calming music, would tv be better? He knows when I’m leaving, even if it’s long before I’ve grabbed my keys. He’ll stay away from the bedroom (that’s where his crate is) and will not come when I call him into the bedroom. We also got him treats infused with melatonin but that does not really seem to be working as much.

I would not speak to him as that gives him attention. I do find that covering the crate seems to help with anxiety but some dogs will pull in the blanket and ingest it. So it is a hard call there. since he is in a crate, I'd use a plug in so you have the option of a different collar if you choose to. Melatonin takes time to start working on anxiety issues.

Now I've found that taping a normal noise such as the shower running and playing that back is more effective since when you are showering, he knows you are home and he just can't see you. Now he will know you are not home, but the familiar noises of you being home may help more than dog calming music. If the tv is on a lot when you are home, keep the tv on too. Also crating him for small periods of time when you are not going anywhere may help too.

Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20,439
Experience: Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
Verified
Jane Lefler and 87 other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Thank you so much for your help!

You are very welcome.

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