Good dog leash training is one of the first steps to having a well-behaved pet. Once your dog walks calmly on a leash next to you, you’ve solved many obedience problems. Lunging on a leash, trying to run after other dogs or people and constant pulling in an effort to get somewhere are some of the problems good dog leash training can fix.
After your pet becomes well-behaved walking on a leash, you might want to take him off-leash sometimes. It might be tempting to go out without the leash and walk in the same places you normally walk. This is rarely a good idea, however. The benefits of using dog leashes almost always far outweigh the fun of going off-leash without a lot of planning and preparation.
Dangers of Going Off the Dog Leash
When your dog is used to walking calmly on a leash, he’s used to feeling that way while tethered to you. Remove the leash, and there’s a decent chance that under calm circumstances with no surprises, your dog would at least stay near you if he’s well-trained enough. But in some cases, as soon as a dog realizes that the leash can’t stop him, he’ll go out of that usual range and put more distance between you.
Natural curiosity, the desire to sniff something up ahead or other reasons could cause your dog to walk farther away from you than normal. In some cases, unfortunately, a dog will even take off running. The sudden freedom may seem like permission to do so.
Even if your dog is so well-trained that he stays by your side, you can’t predict how he’ll react if another dog rushes up to him, or if a car backfires near you. For some, all it takes is the sight of a loose cat to send them hurrying ahead.
Fight or Flight in Dogs
We all have a “fight or flight” response that can kick in when we’re startled. We’ve all felt that sudden jittery feeling that results from a burst of adrenaline after being frightened or excited by something. Dogs have the same response. While a person might not take off running after a sudden start, because we can reason about what just happened, a dog’s natural instinct might be to run, no matter how much training there has been.
This is a huge risk, since it could result in a dog running so far that he gets lost, or running into the street and dangerous traffic. It’s not worth the risk to your dog to go off the dog leash on your daily walk. There are special places you can go like dog parks and other areas where going off-leash is safer. Prepare your dog for those if you want to enjoy some off-leash time, but use a quality dog harness and leash on your daily walks for safety.