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July 19, 2017

4 Tips for Training Your Dog to Walk Off-Leash in Atlanta, GA


If you’re a regular reader of our pet care blog, you might have seen our recent article about tips for walking your dog on a leash. Leash skills are crucially important to master – but this time around, we’ll be taking a look at how to walk without a leash. If Fido still needs to work on his leash etiquette, we recommend starting with our tips on leash training first. But if your dog or puppy is ready to graduate to the next level of training, keep reading for four simple tips that will make training your dog off-leash easier this summer.

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4 Basic Tips to Train Your Dog to Walk without a Leash

First and foremost, we’d like to start with a caveat: there can be serious safety risks in training your dog to walk without a leash. Our intent isn’t to frighten or dissuade you – after all, millions of people have safely and successfully trained their dogs to walk without a leash – but we do want to make you aware of the dangers that can arise.

A leash is what gives you control over your dog in case of an emergency, like a speeding car, a startling noise, an enticing squirrel, or an aggressive dog. Without the physical restraint of a leash, you will be reliant on sheer obedience to protect your dog from harm: reliant on the assumption that your dog will come (or halt) the instant you give the command. That means you need to be extremely careful – and consistent – throughout your course of training. It’s a good idea to get help from a professional dog trainer, at least when you’re first getting started, to help you identify bad habits and nip them in the bud.

With these risks in mind, let’s start looking at how to train your dog to walk without a leash.

Tip #1: Start in an enclosed space. When you’re first getting started, begin in a safely enclosed area – preferably somewhere quiet and minimally stimulating, like your back yard or another familiar environment, where your dog will have few distractions. As your dog begins to become more responsive to your commands, you can move your sessions to a more distracting and challenging environment; but at the outset, test your skills in your yard, kitchen, living room, basement, or other areas around your home or apartment in Atlanta.

Tip #2: Reward good behaviors. Rewards reinforce desired behaviors (with the added benefit of helping you bond with your dog). Running away to chase a squirrel, or to investigate an intriguing scent, is already a “reward” for your dog’s natural instincts, so you need to offer your own reward (like a toy or healthy treat) to encourage your dog to stay at your side.

Tip #3: Don’t rely on “bait.” Sometimes, what you don’t do is more important than what you do. When training your dog to walk off-leash, the most tempting and obvious route is to hold out treats where your dog can see them. In effect, the treats act as bait. While it’s critical to reward you dog for good behavior, you must avoid becoming 100% reliant on treats, because in a real-world situation – for example, a hike in the woods – your dog won’t always be in sight.

Tip #4: Start from scratch. Unless you’ve recently adopted a puppy, chances are Fido already has a few bad habits – for example, not responding to commands with total accuracy. Instead of struggling to retrain Fido with a word he only responds to 50% of the time, start over with a new word, like “come” instead of “here” (or vice versa). It will be easier and faster than “rewiring” your dog with your current set of commands.

There are always risks to training your dog to walk off-leash, like the risk of darting into the road. Use your best judgment – especially near busy, high-traffic areas like downtown Atlanta – and never stop practicing!

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Find and Hire Experienced Atlanta Dog Walkers Near You

No matter how well you train Fluffy, you won’t always be there to walk her. Whether it’s a business meeting, a surprise party, or a family vacation, there will be times when you need to find a reliable dog walker on short notice. But whatever your calendar throws at you this summer, Critter Sitters will be there to help.

With over 40 years of experience serving communities all over Georgia, our knowledgeable, dedicated team of dog walkers and pet sitters is available whenever you need us, including weekends, holidays, late nights, and early in the morning. Our trusted, experienced team of dog walkers includes:

When you need to find a dog walker fast, call Critter Sitters at (404) 973-2541 to ask about our professional dog walking services in the Atlanta area.