Developing Off-Leash Communication

woman walking her dog off leash on a trail

Developing Off-Leash Communication

off leash communication with your dog

Precise and quick off-leash communication with your dog is an excellent goal for any dog owner, even if they never intend to let their dog off the leash in public. Training to this level is evidence of a highly trusting relationship; the handler knows how dogs communicate with humans and how to communicate with dogs.

We must always consider safety throughout the dog’s life, and safety is a prime concern in training. Remember, whenever you let your dog off leash outside your house, you increase that dog’s risk of being harmed or lost. Training mitigates but does not entirely cancel the risk. A dog in training is technically untrained. Training begins when I meet the dog and ends when we stop engaging.

My 15-year-old dog, Mydee, is still in training. When he was young, I constantly tested him on following instructions around distraction, and he was very predictable and paid attention. Now that he is older, he is experiencing mental decline, so some things that were very safe in the past are no longer safe for him, and being off the leash in public is one of those things. 

Like Mydee, some dogs should not be allowed off-leash in public. Dogs new to your family should never be allowed off the leash in public. Your fenced-in backyard is fine in most cases, but walk the perimeter with the dog and watch them to see if they look like they will try to escape the yard. For the first four weeks, I am outside with them when they are out; sometimes, I use a long line. Going out with your dog is a good habit to develop, and I encourage you to stay out with them instead of putting them out alone. Dogs who practice nervousness or antisocial behaviors or have extreme sound sensitivity, high anxiety (including separation anxiety), and aggression should not be allowed off the leash in public for their safety until those issues are addressed.  

I always say structure is vital to a successful relationship with a dog. By structure, I mean demonstrating to your dog that you control the timing of events and their immediate environment. We use that control to create clear boundaries and expectations for our dog’s behavior, and your dog learns you are dependable. We first exercise structure at home, which naturally spreads outside the home. Most people see play as a way to bond, but play can also reinforce structure; play at the same time every day with a clear start and end to the session will reinforce your control of the timing of events. 

Then, the owner must understand and learn to influence your dog’s emotional state, energy levels, intention, understanding, and willingness to perform requests, cues, or commands. You must easily communicate the concepts of “yes” (I love what you are doing, keep doing that!) and “no” (please stop what you are doing right now and pay attention to me.) This requires practice taking cues from the dog’s behavior and clearly communicating your ideas to the dog. Before letting any dog off the leash, the owner must be able to give and take information with the dog efficiently.

Other concerns to consider include the right location for practice and working at the right pace—not too fast or too slowly. A good training program will help you address these issues.

Again, letting a dog off the leash in public is always more dangerous than keeping them on the leash

As a professional dog trainer, I’ve developed systems to make understanding and communicating with dogs logical, easy, and fun. This system will make your dog choose you over the rest of the world. And when your system is right, your dog will choose to follow your instructions and engage with you in any situation. 

My ultimate goal is not to let my dog off the leash in public but to help you develop a relationship with your dog that makes the leash unnecessary.  

To learn more about the Argos Dog Training programs we have to offer, click the link below or reach out to us today!