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Hi all,
Our V, Clay, is 14 weeks old and we have been able to take him out for walks for almost a week. I wanted to see what the general consensus was regarding off-lead/leash walking because - as always - there is a lot of differing opinion out there. My instinct is that he is not ready and wont be for many months, his recall is good but out and about when distracted I do not trust him to listen, especially if we were in the presence of another dog. However, I recently read that it is better to get them off-lead walking asap because the older he gets the less likely it is that he will naturally want to be close to us, and so it is better to train him into it while he is young. We are lucky enough to have relatively safe, enclosed place locally to train off-lead walking if wished to do so and, of course, I would carry a pouch full of high-quality treats. I do not think he would run far from us at all, but my fear would be that he would get into a hairy situation with another dog and I would not be able to get him back to me quickly. It goes without saying that any off-lead walking would only be in safe woodland and fields - never out on the streets (ever!)

I just wanted to see what the thoughts are from people who are very passionate about their dogs - when did you let your Vs off-lead and any tips? Thanks! :)
 

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I don't know that getting them off leash early, has an impact on them staying close as an adult. That would be more dependent on genetics and the individual dog. "Close" is also a relative term.
At 14 weeks he certainly is old enough to transition to off lead. It's not difficult, but it does require some discipline on the owners part.
If you are not yet using the "Check Cord", which is basically a long leash, now is the time to start. A check cord is nothing more than a 4-6mm piece of rope/line, and a snap to attach to a harness, not his collar, a harness, on your dog. It can also be some canvas web strap material 19-25mm wide. You will tie a knot in the end, opposite the snap.
I use check cords that range from 5m to 30m in length. 10m is a good place to start.
The harness is a safety measure, because he will absolutely run to the end of a check cord and come to a very abrupt stop that will take him off his feet. A harness distributes that pressure across a wider area, and is much, much, safer than just a collar around his neck. He won't do it very often. I promise. He's not dumb.
With a 10meter cord, you will be holding it in your hand and just letting him have his head and nose to explore out to the end of the check cord. As you "yo-yo" him back and forth to you, to establish recall, you will reach a point that you are comfortable enough that you can drop the cord and let him drag it behind him. Continue with the "yo-yoing" for recall, but do let him have his head and nose for. Once you're confident, you can begin to move onto the next stage.
If you are in a big, open, field, with low brush and grass, let him go on a much longer check cord, 20m-25m and just let him run, dragging that long cord behind him. If your inthe forest, keep him on the 10m cord.
Call him back and forth and just kind of let him be a dog. You will find out what his "natural range" is during this time. Maybe it's 30m maybe it's 100m, who knows, more than likely it will be in between unless soemething really peaks his interest. It will be up to him. You will still be working on his recall, during this time. The check cord is your positive control device.
The knots that were tied in the end of the cords opposite the dog perform two function. If he does kind of "run off" in the woods, the check cord will tangled up and the knot will "catch" something and tie him in place until you can get to him. You will get really tired of untangling him. ;) It also gives you something at the end of the cord, so that the cord doesn't slip through your fingers. I highly recommend a pair of gloves, because you may have to reach down and grab the cord by hand, or step on it with your foot, as he runs by to get control of him. A glove prevents rope burns and abrasion to your hand.
I don't recommend spending a lot of money, or searching the end of the internet to find the best "check cord". The time he will be on these cords is relatively short, and then never again, unless he needs a little tuneup. A package of clothesline material is perfect. Just make sure it isn't the plastic type that has a metal, cable core for strength. You want a cloth type of material.
Once you know that your dog is 100% recall, from any distance, the you find a safe place, take a leap of faith and let him go with nothing. This is a repetitive, time consuming, process. You are imprinting on your dog pschologically that you can enforce a command at any distance.
After all of the check cord work, seriously consider the use of the electronic collar (eColllar). If you haven't considered it as of yet, you probably will, after you've untangled him for the umpteenth time. The ecollar gets your dog off the check cord a lot earlier than if only the check cord is being used. Weeks, versus months.
If you would like me to detail how to use the eCollar, and train it with the check cord, let me know
 

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Hi Gunnr,
Thank you, this is super advice :) We already have a check cord and walk him on a harness but I think we have not been using it to the potential as you mentioned. Also, ours is only 5m so I will order a longer one tonight and get him started! :)
 

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One thing I did forget to mention is "back trailing".
If for some reason you do get separated from him, or he gets scared, he will run straight back down the trail or path you just followed He is following his scent, and yours back.It's instinctive to him.
Keep him front of you to the best of your abilities, and try to not cross back over a path you have already taken. He may hit that back trail and take off.
It's actually a good way to work the recall once you recognize what is happening, and you can use the back trail to your advantage in his training. He will stop doing on his own naturally. Just watch for it.
 

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We did not leash him in our yard since we got him at 6 weeks old. We got an invisible fence after he started venturing into the neighbors yard at 6 months old. When at the dog park I call him back when he gets too far away to teach him the distance limit I want for him. There are nature trails we hike and we have never leashed him. He just does circles in front of us while we walk. He shows no signs of running away ever. I vote your starting late on letting him off leash
 

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Hi all,
Our V, Clay, is 14 weeks old and we have been able to take him out for walks for almost a week. I wanted to see what the general consensus was regarding off-lead/leash walking because - as always - there is a lot of differing opinion out there. My instinct is that he is not ready and wont be for many months, his recall is good but out and about when distracted I do not trust him to listen, especially if we were in the presence of another dog. However, I recently read that it is better to get them off-lead walking asap because the older he gets the less likely it is that he will naturally want to be close to us, and so it is better to train him into it while he is young. We are lucky enough to have relatively safe, enclosed place locally to train off-lead walking if wished to do so and, of course, I would carry a pouch full of high-quality treats. I do not think he would run far from us at all, but my fear would be that he would get into a hairy situation with another dog and I would not be able to get him back to me quickly. It goes without saying that any off-lead walking would only be in safe woodland and fields - never out on the streets (ever!)

I just wanted to see what the thoughts are from people who are very passionate about their dogs - when did you let your Vs off-lead and any tips? Thanks! :)
We did not leash him in our yard since we got him at 6 weeks old. We got an invisible fence after he started venturing into the neighbors yard at 6 months old. When at the dog park I call him back when he gets too far away to teach him the distance limit I want for him. There are nature trails we hike and we have never leashed him. He just does circles in front of us while we walk. He shows no signs of running away ever. I vote your starting late on letting him off leash
Hi, We trained our V Basic puppy commands at home, & repeated them every day for 6 weeks. After he easily came when called, we added a dog whistle to the come command, because they run far outside, & our voice cannot carry that loud. We took him outside in big field, & used the whistle for come. He came every single time. He is 4 1/2 now we can take him anywhere & he will either walk right with us or go romp off to check things out, but he never takes his eyes off of where we are. If we call or whistle for him he is immediately running back to us. I think the time & energy spent bonding with them as pups pays off tremendously.
 
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