off lead problems

Posted by Mary-Saunders
Feb 23, 2008

I have a 16 month old collie x labrador. She is lovely natured and superbly behaved indoors and on the lead. She is excellent at basic obedience both indoors and whilst on the lead.

However, when we take her for a walk her focus is on anything but us. If we let her off the lead and she sees another person or a dog she will be off after them, and ignore any recall until she is ready to come back. If the person is on their own she barks at them and seems to be trying to dominate them.

So at the moment we are only walking her on the lead, which is no fun.

Any advice on how we sort this?

Many thanks
Posted by Blue
Feb 26, 2008
Hi Mary,
Try doing some intensive on leash recall training with a longer leash (10' is good) - so you maintain control, and can haul her in if she doesn't respond, all while simulating the freedom of an off leash experience.

Don't buy a retractable leash as they are difficult to control and you can't bring the dog in quickly from bad recalls because the rope is so small and thin and the handle so big and cumbersome. They also tend to encourage owners to "retract themselves" towards their dogs, where we want the dogs to come to us!

Start of by doing the training on the short leash, if she is completely reliable with that, start giving her longer and longer leashes. You want to start training in a low distraction area, and then for every foot of leash you give her, once her recall is reliable in low distraction, do some training in a high distraction environment before moving onto another foot of leash freedom.

This way you always can control her response to your recall, and it establishes that there are consequences to her not coming on first call - no freedom and praise.

Rewards should only be given for successful recalls, high rewards are food, play session or re-release to freedom after a minute. Quiet low-key praise can be given for recalls that are successful on the second call. If it takes three calls to call her in or if you have to haul her in, just hold her in for a minute or two - no praise, and then go back to one foot less of freedom and start training again.

I hope this was relatively clear! I'm feeling a little sleepy right now! (more coffee required...).

If you have any questions feel free to ask,
Posted by Mary-Saunders
Apr 3, 2008
Thank you for your advice Blue, I have been following it and she is getting better. How do we go from the stage of having her on a long leash to no leash at all? Do we just try it and see?!