Unsecured areas can be an unpredictable environment for dogs, but allowing them time off leash gives them physical and mental exercise that is necessary for their health and happiness. It is natural for dogs to run, play and explore their surroundings, so it is best to allow them that freedom while minimizing the risks associated with being off leash. It also prepares them for times when they are let loose unexpectedly, as dogs who are rarely let off leash tend to make the most of their freedom from ‘captivity’. Conversely, dogs who are trained in off leash behavior often stay closer to their handlers and are more willing to promptly return.
One of the ways we establish off leash control is by using behaviors as rewards. Scientifically this is known as the ‘Premack Principle’, named after researcher Dr. David Premack, who formulated the theory. According to him, more likely (and less preferable) behaviors can be used to reinforce less likely (and more preferable) behavior. In human terms, your parents allowing you to go out with friends after cleaning your room would be an example of the Premack Principle. They used your adolescent desire to go out with friends as a reward for engaging in the less likely behavior of cleaning your room. Applied to off leash dog training, it means rewarding your pet with the freedom to sniff and explore after it gives you attention by ‘checking in’. Checking in is different from coming when called, as your off leash dog is expected to come close to you frequently, even without being asked to.
By starting the training in small, controlled spaces, and then moving to more open areas with greater distractions, your dog will be conditioned to perform the desired behavior of checking in and staying within your control. Both you and your dog will gradually gain confidence and know how to respond even in very distracting environments.
After successfully completing the program with our experienced dog trainers, you will not only have greater control over your dog’s behavior, but also be able to deal with other common problems such as excessive barking, growling, aggression, destructiveness, biting, chewing, scratching and housebreaking. You will also master the basic commands such as ‘Come’, ‘Sit’, ‘Down’, ‘Stay’, ‘Look’, ‘Wait’, ‘Quiet’, ‘Off’, ‘Release’, ‘Drop It’ and other instructions every well mannered dog should know.