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  • Courteous K9

Are you giving your dog the right amount of Freedom?

Dog running happily

Too Much, Too Soon:

Off-leash freedom is something many people strive towards with their dogs. But how we introduce that freedom is very important. If we give too much freedom too quickly, our dogs learn not to listen to us or they can start to develop bad habits. It is a very big jump to go from always training on a 4-6ft leash to no longer using a leash at all. With dog training, it's important to take small, gradual steps towards the final picture.

When we get a new dog or puppy, we may start them on leash in the house even. Especially if they have demonstrated they do not want to come when called, or other behaviors that would warrant using a leash, such as nipping when telling them to get off of your bed or couch for instance. For these dogs, we will have the dog drag the leash in the house until they prove to us that they have earned the privilege of more freedom. We do not want our dog learning that they do not have to come when called, etc. So until we never have to step on or grab the leash to help the dog be successful in what we are asking of them, there should be management. The same goes for freedom off leash outside in a fenced in yard. We may utilize a long line (10-30ft) for dogs that are doing well outside on a 4-6 ft leash. That way our dog can be further away from us so we can see how they respond with more distractions. But, if they don't listen we have a way to follow through. Then, once that is going well, you can try dropping the long line. Now our dogs have the illusion of freedom, but again, we have something to step on or grab if our dog doesn't listen. Once your dog is listening reliably with the dropped long line, then you can move to off leash!

In general, it's important to be able to follow through with what we are asking of our dog, or at least manage them with a leash, if they don't listen. We cannot do that if they are completely off leash right off the bat. Using a long line helps give the dog the illusion of freedom but we are able to follow through if they don't listen or prevent them from developing bad habits.

Too Little, Too Late:

We can also experience issues if your dog is always constrained to a leash for a long period of time and we finally let them off. Once they do feel freedom, they often get crazy zoomies and run around with an exorbitent amount of energy and may not listen at all. So, again, it is important to let your dog experience freedom, but in a controlled manner (long line at a park, etc) or while training (leash should be loose prior to calling your dog) until your dog proves they are ready for more.

This way we can safely and responsibly give our dogs more freedom as they are ready and able to handle the given situations appropriately.

The whole purpose of training our dogs is to teach them how to safely navigate our world, and through training, we can (and should!) give our dogs more freedom and privileges.

If you are interested in discussing your training goals further, click below:

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