Find your dog’s off-leash time daunting? You need this trainer’s three simple tips

Three Australian Shepherd dogs playing together in a dog park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While it’s important that your dog is well-behaved when you walk them on a leash, even the most well-behaved dog will enjoy some time off their leash when it’s safe to do so.

While it’s good to be aware of these 15 helpful ways to get your dog to come back to you on off leash walks, it’s also worth spending some time thinking through how you can make your dog’s off-leash time more enjoyable for both of you. 

Apart from bringing along some of the best dog treats to reward your pup for good behavior, canine trainer and behaviorist Amelia Steele, also known as Amelia the Dog Trainer, has shared some useful advice on Instagram to help make your walks even better!

“Recalls/check-ins always get rewarded,” begins Steele. 

If you’ve been calling your dog a few times and they haven’t acknowledged you, it can be easy to feel frustrated. But, it’s still important to reward your dog when they do come back to you – if they receive a negative reaction, they could associate recall with a negative reaction and be less likely to come back to you in the future. 

Instead, no matter how long it takes for them to come back to you, make recall something positive. 

And, while most dogs enjoy exploring and running around off their leash, Steele explains that it’s important to make on-leash time just as rewarding. 

To do this, bring some treats with you, give your pup some freedom to explore a little when and where it’s safe to do so, and ensure that your pup gets plenty of affection and attention while they’re on their leash. 

Finally, says Steele, “If we see other people/dogs, the leash goes back on”. 

Sure, your dog might be the friendliest dog in the world and want to approach everybody they see, but you can’t control how other dogs react to yours – they may not be as friendly. Likewise, not everyone loves dogs, and they may not be excited to be greeted by a dog off their leash. 

So, for everyone’s safety and comfort, it’s important to put your dog back on the leash if you encounter anyone. And, of course, before you let your dog off-leash, it’s important to be familiar with the laws in your area. In some places, it’s required by law that your dog is on a leash when in public, or in certain areas such as on a public road. 

If your dog struggles off-leash, however, you’re not alone. To find out what one dog parent did when she struggled with her pup’s off-leash behavior, check out this article: My dog embarrassed me with her terrible off-leash behavior — here’s how I fixed it.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.