Many people think recall is about calling your dog back, which it is to an extent, but having a dog off lead should actually be about keeping your dog with you in the first place.
Being off lead is like visiting Disneyland, it’s exciting, especially if they have learnt to run off and play with other dogs. So you need to start acting like Mickey, Donald and Goofy and provide your dog entertainment they don’t wish to miss out on. This can involve training, games, activities that your dog wants to be involved with.
‘Practice makes perfect and practice makes permanent’ so if a dog learns to run off for their own entertainment that is what you will be left with but if you provide them entertainment and they practice hanging out with you then this will be your end result.
The majority of dogs should be able to greet each other and play but only if it is appropriate. There are plenty of dogs out there who don’t want your dog interrupting their walks which should be respected.
When walking your dog, always keep an eye on other dogs. Are they on a lead? If they are, it will be for a reason. It could be because:
- They are newly rehomed
- They’ve just come out of surgery or are recovering from an injury
- They tend to run off and won’t come back
- They have spatial issues with other dogs or can’t be trusted with other people
There’s no point shouting ‘it’s okay, my dog’s friendly’. It is not about your dog, it’s about the dog that is on lead who may not like a dog rushing up to him and jumping on him. It doesn’t matter why the dog is on a lead, we should respect this fact by putting our own dogs on lead so we don’t cause any problems.
It’s a good idea to practice putting your dog’s lead on throughout the walk not just when there is a distraction or at the end of the walk. You should teach your dog that when the lead goes on more good stuff happens, it shouldn’t be used to stop the fun.
Another thing to remember when dogs have freedom away from us is watching them in case they go to the toilet. It’s so easy for us to get sidetracked with thinking about what we are doing for the rest of the day or taking the kids somewhere later that if we take our eyes off our dogs for more than 10 seconds, our dogs have been to the toilet. By the time you turn around they’ve finished and we haven’t a clue they’ve been. As dog owners we are responsible for what comes out of our dogs and although the Forestry Commission encourages people to ‘pick up a stick and flick it’ I encourage everyone to pick up unless its so far into a bush it’s impossible to get too. The reason I suggest this is because children are likely to step in it but also it’s about having consideration to the local wildlife. Please also be responsible and bin the bag, horses and livestock are ingesting the bags that are left behind. It’s not difficult to carry it until you reach a bin or if there aren’t any bins take it home with you!
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